We all know the wallflowers — the shy people who stand quietly alone at parties but still seem somewhat interested in meeting people. Why else would they be there?
Many of us have probably even experienced wallflower moments or are wallflowers. You may not have realized, but even this author is shy - depression and anxiety certainly don't help. Shyness seems to be a pretty natural occurrence, though it can also be looked down upon in this society. It’s hard to get by in many areas of life if you’re too quiet, not outgoing enough and fear rejection. Some experts have realized how painful shyness can be and have delved into the reasoning behind shyness.
What is shyness?
Bernardo J. Carducci, a psychology professor, is the director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast.
He said shyness can be defined by excessive self-consciousness, excessive negative self-critical evaluation and excessive negative self-preoccupation.
“Shy people tend to be overly concerned with their sense of self and they tend to evaluate that sense of self in a negative way,” Carducci said. “When you’re overly concerned with yourself, when you’re overly self-focused, that kind of gets in the way of social performance. As a result of that, shy people fail to respond because they worry that anything they do is going to be evaluated negatively.”
Shy people are also hypercritical, he said.
“In a sense, what they do is they take themselves out of the game,” Carducci said.
Shyness is different from people who want to be alone, he said.
“Shy people truly want to be with others,” Carducci said. “Introverts are individuals who prefer to be alone. Shy people feel that they have to be alone because they don’t know what to do.”
There are different forms of shyness, and he said there is a “continuum of anxiety.” There is situational shyness, normal shyness, social anxiety disorder and social phobia to name a few.
Situational shyness is when a person is only shy in certain situations, like when meeting a celebrity. Normal shyness is the typical wallflower – they go to social events but are held back by shyness.