I’ve always considered myself a rather shy person. This is because, in social situations, where I see others around me chatting to each other with ease, I am filled with a sense of dread, and a desire to just be with those I know really well.
This has made my life a lot more unfulfilling that I would like it to be. When I went from Primary School, where I knew a close circle of friends who I felt at ease talking to, to a new and much larger group, I literally froze.
We had an icebreaker initial activity I recall in which we were to find someone near us, and tell them interesting things about ourselves. Not much came out of my mouth, but in my head all I could think was “I’ve got nothing to say. Let me out of here!!”
I sat alone for a vastly greater time than I wished to. Perhaps to others I appeared a snob. This was the so far from the truth. Inside, I knew I was caring and extremely accepting of other people – all other people. However when someone saw me, and smiled at me, I was flat out returning a weak smile, and not averting my eyes.
I have read many books and sought even professional help for my shyness.
I feel, at 37, I have finally made peace with my introverted nature. I have met many people who seem extremely self-confident who have also revealed to me some of the same crippling thoughts that I thought I alone had experienced. Of course, I know extroverts too, and I envy how easily they can mix, and their lack of self-consciousness.
The best thing I have found is actually a method completely without analysis, and does not follow any of the recipes I have found in self-help books! It’s made up of:
1.Enter one socially uncomfortable situation a day. Even if this is saying something droll like “It’s hot today, isn’t it?” Sometimes, once the ice is broken, you will feel more at ease and comfortable talking about something else!
2.The second approach is simply a “just do it” approach. Sometimes, I have forgotten to wear my watch. Inside I am thinking “just ask that person for the time”, and then another part of me says “no…” and then “go on, just ask them for the time!”. A rather redundant parley of conversation starts in my head. And then I say to myself “just do it” upon which I blurt out to an unsuspecting individual “excuse me, would you have the time, please?”. They glance down at their watch, reveal the time, and you’re done!
Shyness is something the great majority of us probably experience. Some people are just better at hiding it. It isn’t even a bad quality. Being introverted isn’t worse than being extroverted – it’s just another style. However, if you find shyness crippling, remember avoidance makes it worse and overcoming it gets easier and easier! I can say this from practice!