From the Archives: Let’s Talk about Shyness.

Despite a certain famous lasagne-loving cat’s notion, Mondays are great. I love Mondays. A fresh week, a fresh start, a fresh perspective. Whatever it may be. In particular, Monday lunchtimes give me the opportunity to catch up on my favourite blogs, having many bloggers publicising their posts the previous Sunday evening or early hours of the new week. Akin to a new episode of your favourite US series popping up on Netflix come October and January. I digress.

One Monday lunchtime, I was catching up on Kemi’s blog and the following excerpt from her “The ___ Friend” post struck a chord with me:

“Anyone that has grown up quiet or shy knows how much it can seriously plague you and hold you back. Now, with age and experience, I think I’m pretty fine in this area if I’m being honest (although never perfect). But if we rewind back a few more years – I did eventually reach a point where I became just so sick and tired of having these traits dictate my life.”

It reminded me of much of my adolescence where I spent fighting being a shy individual in the bid to showcase to my peers the outgoing person I truly was. It reminded me of the instances in school and college where I was lost for words, whether that was stood in front of my fellow classmates to deliver a presentation or turning to the teacher after a group discussion to share our findings. Ultimately, it reminded me of the post I had written on my old blog when I was a teenager.

Using the wisdom that comes gratis with time and age, I learnt more about myself and how to coach oneself in manifesting confidence. I love being around people and the energetic atmosphere I can feel within my surroundings, I love the challenges I find myself in and the ability to work with others whilst communicating effectively to achieve a mutual goal.

You may feel what no one tells you is that it is a case of trial and error in finding what works for you: the audience, the places, the situations. However, it seems I had written about this very journey almost seven years ago. As parting words, we all have it in ourselves to adopt a confident nature. It is up to us to rise against the adversities of being shy and knowing we can defeat the setbacks it may throw across our paths.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Let’s Talk about Shyness.

I believe there are two kinds of confidence:

  • The ability to be comfortable with yourself.
  • The ability to be comfortable with others.

Scattered throughout my blog, I have one pep talk post after another, trying to encourage people that it’s completely fine to be all “hey, I’m fabulous, flawless, sassy, fierce, and I know it!” I always talk about “the ability to be comfortable with yourself” and not much about “the ability to be comfortable around others”. It’s not a topic I’m a fan of because I absolutely hate it. I hate being shy and I feel as though it’s a massive setback in my life.

After watching Sammi’s video and reading Zoe’s post, it got me thinking about it and opened my eyes that I’m not alone.

Like Sammi, when I had reports sent home, teachers always commented on how quiet and shy I was. I don’t think I knew I was like that until I was in Year 7. Report after report said the same thing and I realised I was more quiet than other people in my classes, but it didn’t get me down. I was a hard working student, but I wasn’t much of a talker.

* * *

I feel as though my shyness stopped me from making friends. I was always worried what people would think and would make such a fuss about being around others. It’s not that I didn’t want to be around people, because believe me, I did! It’s the fact I had to put myself out there and I felt really vulnerable. Looking back, the worst they could have done was say “no, we don’t want to hang out with you”. After all, it was only secondary school and not The Hunger Games!

I remember talking to my Mum about making friends because I was feeling really lonely and I said I “sort of made a friend, but we don’t hang out during break time.” The friend and I would sit next to each other and talk from time to time. Hey, we even switched phone numbers! My Mum encouraged me to phone the friend. Following her advice, I phoned the friend and nervously asked her if I could hang out with her and her friends the following day and she said yes. After that, the group and I become super close best friends throughout the remaining years at school. What really sticks out to me like a sore thumb is that I had to PHONE her. It would be no different to asking her at school, but my shyness convinced me that it would be different in every way possible.

* * *

Back in my first year of college, I worried about fitting in, making friends, etc. because it was a place full of people I didn’t know. I wanted to put myself out there, but it seemed so daunting and I ended up being on the outside, looking in and I hated it. If it wasn’t for my shyness, I would have made friends much quicker.

When I had to do PowerPoint presentations in ICT, I would freak out so much. The idea of talking in front of, wait for it, approximately THIRTEEN people who are near the same age as me scared me so much. Maybe it was the fact I was being filmed and it was a “peer assessment” (this means the teacher and a randomly selected student from the class give you feedback), but being shy was such a huge setback for something so important.

I will admit I am still shy. Not as much as needing to phone people if I wanted to talk to them and having my Mum hovering in the background, but nevertheless, I am still shy.

Whenever I have to deliver a presentation to the class, I use a sheet of paper with my notes on it and don’t bat an eyelash to the people sat quietly and listening to me. I’m not even exaggerating, I put it up against my face and read every word carefully. I hear my voice quiver and know that everyone can sense it, they know I’ve unwillingly turned the “shy” switch on and I’m no longer that person who laughs at everything. I’m just a shy girl using a wafer thin piece of paper with notes scribbled all over it as a shield from the class.

A few weeks ago, I had to build up the courage to ask a sales assistant at River Island where the watches were because I couldn’t find them after doing a few laps around the shop. I then realised that isn’t me. It’s not something I usually do. When I go shopping and need to ask a sales assistant something, I can do it effortlessly. After this incident, I knew something wasn’t right.

* * *

I’m happy to say that I’ve now made a few friends and engage more with people than I used to. I’m not going to let my shyness dictate my life because “I’m fabulous, flawless, sassy, fierce, and I know it!” Shyness is a tiny hurdle from what you want in life. You need to jump over it and then you’re one step closer to achieving your goals.

As previously stated, Sammi’s video and Zoe’s post helped me so much and gave me the push I needed. People are just people and they can’t make you nervous. I’m taking it step by step, but I’m slowly banishing that shyness from my life.

It’s an awful thing to have and I don’t want it in my life. I don’t want it to take over me and make me live in that shell I broke out of years ago, because I love being outside of it and living in that shell of shyness stops me making myself noticed.

So, here are a few things to remember:

  • You’re not alone. Many people are struggling with it and they know what you’re going through. They’ve been there and got the tee shirt.
  • Know that the shyness doesn’t control you and can’t control you. Do what you want and know it can’t stop you. By that, I mean: You won’t know what will happen if you don’t do it, instead, you’ll just wonder “what if…?” So in the words of Nike: “just do it”. Easier said than done, but just do it. It doesn’t need to be a massive thing, it can be a tiny, ordinary thing, but the fact you did it will feel amazing.

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