So, I am basically going to now spurt out everything related to this topic without much format so brace yourselves!
I have always been the kind of person who labours under the labels of 'shy', 'introverted', 'quiet', 'socially awkward' and I am not sure if I suddenly became like this but I am more swayed towards the idea that I was born this way (*baby, I was born this way*) and it is just my character. You may be wondering what kind character it is that I am talking about so I think that I will quickly define it (you may be able to tell that I am rather inarticulate).
I would describe myself as the kind of person who sits on the sidelines and watches and analyses situations but doesn't get hugely involved. In the company of people who aren't close friends or family I only speak when a question is directed towards me or I feel confident enough to do so - this is usually when I haven't thought about speaking because thinking of doing something makes me a bit nervous about doing it as I worry myself too much to be able to do anything. Around friends I am totally fine but I am just not a huge talker in group situations. Also at my most shy, which was when I was in school, I remember blushing having to answer my name in the register which is just crazy.
Then I remember Secondary School being quite a challenge. I was never bullied and I had a much better time than many but I was one of these 'wannabe' types and I was so desperate to fit in. I started straightening my hair in Year 9 and I remember once me and my friend were searching on Youtube 'how to become popular'. But people would always say 'why are you so quiet?' and when you are asked that you just go red and smile or apologise which is really dreadful because it is not your fault - the one asking you should apologise as they are being ignorant and making you uncomfortable. But I did have an amazing circle of friends, who I should have been more grateful for, and I could be myself around them. I also remember the horror of doing presentations in front of the class - that 10 minutes of mumbling, red faced and feeling the eyes of 30 bored teens burning into you (teachers, please, reassess your teaching strategy!) and that week before knowing you had to do it and that feeling of physical sickness just before you have to go up and present it.
Since starting college things have become much better because you have so much more freedom and people aren't constantly judging you or telling you to starting shouting out every thought which comes into your head. The first year was quite scary but I had my best friend with me so it wasn't too bad but now I'm in my second year I have made friends (which I never thought I would do) and I feel more confident. I have also found that the Church has been an amazing help in that everyone is always so eager to talk and encourage you so you don't feel so alienated. I even went to Church on Christmas Day alone and really enjoyed it which is something I never imagined myself doing - as well as volunteering in a charity shop every week and travelling into town alone.
So, I do have a few tips to do with shyness and not 'dealing with it' but how to stop it from controlling your life:
- Don't over think what you are going to do or you probably won't do it
- Don't try to be anyone else
- What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger (keep that in mind during those presentations)
- Be grateful for your friends and devote your time to them, not trying to fit in with the 'cool kids'
- If you are having serious problems at school/college/uni/work talk to a loved one or teacher
- Don't agree to things you really don't want to do
- Ignore the people who will be nasty because you are quiet
- If there is something which builds your confidence, do that a lot (be it volunteering or sky diving)
- Put yourself in a situation which is outside your comfort zone just so that you can say that you have done it and if you found it liberating you can always go back and do it again
- It is ok just to go and read alone if you feel out of your depth
I hope you enjoyed this post even though it was long, depressing and rambley. I would love to hear your thoughts on shyness and whether you have experienced anything similar. Also, you can always email or tweet me on the addresses in the sidebar.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to insult anyone who is an extrovert - it is just as natural as being introverted.