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Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?

Updated: Nov 18, 2021


You love hanging out with people, getting to know new people, and just being around people. You love to laugh with others or tell jokes and to get to know them and their story. Staying busy is your favorite thing to do, versus sitting at home on the couch. You want a friend group or want to be able to attend more things, but something holds you back from creating it or being really involved. People know you as being cool, calm, and collected but you feel anything else when put in a social situation.


Public speaking or walking into a roomful of strangers seems terrifying. Eating in front of people is a no-go. Dating seems like a lot of work and you struggle to get to know new people one-on-one. Even making eye contact or going to school or work can seem like terrifying things to you.


You love being around people but sometimes you also feel this nervousness or fear. You may feel butterflies in your stomach, clam up around new people, have sweaty hands, a dreadful feeling, or just feel scared to go out of the house. When you do go out, later on you find yourself reviewing every word.”Did I let the other person talk enough?” “Why did I say something so dumb?”


Sometimes it seems easier to stay in even though you know that going out would make you feel better. That fear holds you back from attending things that are new, seem high-stakes, or even sometimes going to an event you’ve previously attended. You have safety nets in place such as going with friends or only staying an hour, but fear makes it hard to try to leave the house.


Sometimes you worry about events for weeks before and are so anxious in the hours leading up to the event. Afterward, you may spend a lot of time worrying about how you acted and what you said or did.


But I’m an extrovert, you say to yourself, how do I know if I have social anxiety?


How Do I Know If I Have Social Anxiety As An Extrovert?

Social anxiety can affect anyone, regardless or whether you like being around people or not.

Social anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders.


You may have social anxiety if you have difficulty in any of these areas:

  • Dating

  • Talking to new people

  • Making eye contact

  • Entering a room

  • Going to parties

  • Eating in front of others

  • Starting conversations

  • Going to school or work

You may be afraid of:

  • Being the center of attention

  • Being judged by others in a social situation

  • Accidentally offending someone

  • Being embarrassed or humiliated (and showing it)

When in social situations your body may have:

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Tight muscles

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Stomach cramps or diarrhea

  • Feeling out of breath

  • Feeling “out of body”


If you find yourself with symptoms from these lists, it is likely that you have social anxiety, even as an extrovert that loves being around people. You need social interaction but it is also the thing you fear most. Extroverts are typically people-pleasers and want to be accepted by others. Extroverts' social anxiety tends to be around how people perceive them and what they think about them.


What Causes Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety can have a few different causes. It could be from having an overactive part amygdala which is a part of your brain that controls your fear response. It could be from having a family member with social anxiety or growing up watching a parent with anxiety and how they acted. Or growing up with a controlling or overbearing parent who didn’t allow you to attend events or made you think danger was around every corner when you did.


It can be from trauma, past bullying, abuse or teasing that can make going into social situations seem scary and unpredictable--even though the terrifying situation is long over. If you were shy as a child, this can also be a factor in social anxiety. It could be from feeling inadequate, being afraid of being criticized, or fear of facing criticism.


Social anxiety can come from many different sources and it can be good to work with a therapist to determine where your anxiety started and how to work towards resolving the social anxiety.


How Can I Work Through Social Anxiety So I Can Get Back to Being A Happy Extrovert?

Working through social anxiety can seem daunting at first. It can seem so much easier to stay at home watching Netflix versus facing your fears, but it is so important to your happiness as an extrovert that wants more in their life.


I want you to envision the life you want 6 months from now, a year from now, or even 5 years from now. Is it having a lot of friends? Being busy with people? Having met the right person and settled down together in a happy life? Therapy and working through social anxiety can help you get to those goals and dreams that you have as an extrovert.


How Do I Meet My Extrovert Needs While Having Social Anxiety?

The first step is to realize you have social anxiety, then to begin to handle that so you can find less challenging extrovert situations and then work your way up to the scary ones. Therapy can help you develop coping skills that will help you in your anxious moments, a plan on how to start gradually tackling less anxious situations until you feel confident to handle more situations, and identify thoughts that contribute to social anxiety. For more information of how to calm social anxiety, click here.


If you are an extrovert reading this to help a friend, click here to learn how to help them without becoming their caregiver or codependent.


Ultimately, social anxiety and being an extrovert can occur together, but they don’t have to stop your life. You can begin to take control of those scary situations, your responses to them, and begin to feel more like yourself and more in control.


Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.


Please email wthc@willowtreehealingcenter.org to inquire about services today.

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