The Shyness Project

When Shyness Stands in the Way of Love

Doug was my very first blogging friend.  He welcomed me into the blogging world and was always more than happy to answer any questions I had about blogging.  He allowed me to write my very first guest post too which helped me get started.  I’m very grateful for his friendship and hope to make a visit to his farm in Iowa the next time I’m in the area.  I asked if he could share some of his journey of overcoming shyness for my blog, and within a matter of hours he had a response ready for me!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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My journey out of crippling shyness

Looking back, there are several   things that contributed to the shyness that gripped me throughout my days in school and into adulthood

I hated my name.

I  thought my ears were too big.

I was small for my age, wore glasses and  felt like a nerd.

My  mind would freeze at the thought of talking with a pretty girl.   I can count on one hand the number of one on one conversations I had with girls throughout my high school years .  Laugh all you  like, but if you struggle with shyness you know what I’m talking about.

Quick story.

When I turned 16, I remember thinking if somehow I didn’t get a handle on this problem, I was destined to turn out just like a guy who worked for my dad.  His name was Lowell Smock.  Nice guy, hard working,  but still single @ age 40.  I DID NOT want  to turn out like Lowel!

I wanted to date…..There was this girl in my homeroom I really wanted to get to know.   Problem was she sat with all the popular kids in the back of the class room and I sat in the front row, chewing on my pencil, ready to dash out the door, the moment the bell rang.   I felt like I was trapped between two  large black jaws of a vice….A life of singleness on the one hand and the crippling shyness that gripped my life on the other.  So I did the impossible.  I looked that girl’s phone number up in the phone book…over the course of several days I worked up the courage to dial it.  Her mom answered.  I remember writing out my conversation on a piece of paper.  Wonder  of wonders, when she got on the phone, I was able to stammer out my request to go to a movie..and she accepted!    Only went out on that one date because I didn’t know what to do the next Monday @ school.   She obviously had a good time because she came up to me in the lunch line.  I panicked, got out of line and left the cafeteria.  She had no idea what was going on in my head.  We didn’t talk again for 5 years.  Talk about a loser.

The next 4 years were pretty quiet.  I  did begin to go out socially after I graduated high school.  Tried every trick could imagine….asked my female cousins to set me up, went on double dates w/ friends..etc. Probably went out with a dozen girls…  I got tired of the mind games.   I got to a point of real desperation and actually cried out to God….I was not a religious person.  I honestly didn’t know if there was a god….. but I was sick and tired of the mind games, and the fear that still controlled my life….

Few weeks later, I happened to bump into that girl I had called on the phone for a date when I was 16.  She’d went away to college but came home after a semester.  She was working as a waitress in a pizza joint.  I was with my buddy Chuck that night..He said to me after she waited on our table,  “If you don’t ask her out, I will”  (He knew about my earlier panic attack with her back when I was 16). So I did…I asked her if she would ever be interested in hanging out…she said she would….and eventually became my wife.

Shyness continued to dog me until I entered my early 20’s.   At this point, I opened up to an older friend my struggles and asked her if she could help me.  Just opening up my struggles  to her did a lot to give me hope.  , I would encourage you to find someone you can trust…a mentor who you respect and seems to have their act together….you’ll be surprised at the difference that will make.  If you don’t have anyone in your life..feel free to  leave me a comment, I would LOVE to mentor a fellow shy person.   You do NOT have to live your whole life filtering everything through the “filter” of shyness and fear.

I believe shyness is rooted in how we think about ourselves.  It’s like we have a record  in our mind with grooves in it, playing the same old negative messages.

With the help of my friend and mentor, I began to literally cut new grooves in the recorded messages  of my  self -talk.

Thirty years later, I  still have  “moments” when some of that old stink’n think’n rears it’s ugly head, but it no longer controls me.

And finally, thank you Brittany for this opportunity to share my story.   DM

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*To read more about Doug’s journey, I recommend you visit this link.

This is the first post I read of Doug’s when I started blogging and my comment on his post started our yearlong blogging friendship.  I was nervous to write to him and leave a link to my blog because I didn’t know if that would be welcome or not, but I’m very glad I did.  He has become a great friend and it’s been a pleasure getting to know him.

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21 thoughts on “When Shyness Stands in the Way of Love

  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing. I like that you specified, “but if you struggle with shyness you know what I’m talking about.” People who aren’t shy just don’t get it. They think it’s simply a matter of deciding to do it and doing it and in a way it is, but it’s obviously not that easy or so many good people wouldn’t feel trapped. Like you said, your mind literally locks up when you get into a shy-situation. You can go from being the most clever person in the world with your friends to being a stammering fool in front of a pretty girl or whatever.

    • Yeah the hardest thing to do when you feel shy or anxious is to “just do it”. It certainly isn’t as easy as it sounds, even though it is often what you have to do when you’re trying to overcome your feelings. Thanks for reading and writing Amory!

    • Amory, appreciate your affirmation! Yea, that brain going into freeze mode is not fun (or funny) when you’re the one experiencing it. Funny you should mention clever, when I’m relaxed and feeling normal, I can be very quick witted, fear has a way of shutting all of that down.

  2. Barbara Markway on said:

    That is such a great story! I, too, was very shy and never dated. No one ever asked me out. I don’t know if I seemed aloof? But in grad school I finally got up my nerve to ask out a fellow grad student. Best risk I ever took. We’ve now been married over twenty years. Thanks for sharing your story, and for being Brittany’s blogging friend from the start of her project. I know she’s valued your support.

    • I hope Doug sees this! It’s pretty cool that you guys both have similar stories.

    • Barbara, you’re welcome. I know a comment thread is not the place to tell your story in detail, but I would love to hear the details of how you working up the nerve to ask out a fellow grad student :-) Kudo’s on 20 years of marriage. That is not an easy feat in this day and age.

  3. It is great to hear about other people’s story!
    Dating can be difficult. We need to be proactive. And when you are shy, it can be tricky. Might sound corny, but… I really think there is somebody for everybody, somewhere out there. :)
    Thank you Doug for sharing this.
    Thank you Britt for puting this together.
    Looking forward to reading other inspirational stories.

    • It is! I really enjoy reading the guest posts too when I’ve been collecting them. Even though I’ve gotten to know the people over the course of the year through the blog, it’s something else to be able to see some of their stories organized like this.

      Haha it’s not corny, I’m with you there too. :) And Doug’s story is a good example of that! He and his wife have an amazing relationship and I remember I couldn’t help but smile when he told me they still have that “spark”, even after all these years.

      Thanks Vee, I look forward to reading them too once I get them and to sharing them! I like this month!

    • Vee, this is the third time I’ve tried to leave a comment for you..computer is acting up on this end. (so Brittany) could you delete a couple of the attempts if they show up ) Thanks :-) Vee, you’re welcome! Dating was such an emotional “minefield” for me. There has got to be a better way. (and there is….it’s called friendship first….doing things in a larger group w/o all of the romantic pressure/ getting to know the real person)

      • There has got to be a better way. (and there is….it’s called friendship first….doing things in a larger group w/o all of the romantic pressure/ getting to know the real person) –> Very well said, Doug! I agree.

  4. It’s a wonderful account, Doug, and it must have taken such courage to find your way to where you are now.

  5. You’ve come so far, Brittany! Keep fighting for the life you want!

  6. Good story. Keep it up. Thank you for sharing. :)

  7. Great Story i always think of it for myself nice post excellent :)

  8. I’m struck by how similar my story is to Doug’s. My name is very unusual where I live, and I felt as though people saw me as an outsider because of it. I also hate my ears. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to date-if anyone asks me out, I presume that they’re mocking me (which they probably are).

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