The Shyness Project

1st Night of Psychology

Well what do you know, the first class went great! 🙂  I was so worried about it and imagined myself having trouble talking to people in my class, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!

I got dropped off at the college 20 minutes before my class began, and immediately went to the list posted in the center of the room where students were crowded around.  I figured this was the list that showed all the class numbers for each of the classes.  When the crowd whittled down a little so I could get close enough to the list, I scanned for my Intro to Psych class and soon found it.  I asked one of the ladies that was crowded around the list if that room number was upstairs, but I got no response, and she left.  I felt a little embarrassed, but I don’t think she was ignoring me on purpose, she must have not realized that I was talking to her.(even though I turned around and faced her)  Anywho, I went upstairs to where I thought the class would be, and eventually found it even though the room numbers were scrambled and were not in order.

When I entered the class, it was dead silent.  About 10 people were already seated, and no one was talking or making any kind of noise, not even ruffling papers!  I scanned the room trying to figure out where to sit so I could be in a good position to talk to some people.  I decided on the 3rd row, and sat next to an older lady.  My first thoughts were “Dang, it’s so freakin quiet in here that I’m never going to get a conversation started!”  I was conscious of my breathing even, that’s how quiet it was.  I felt awkward.  I then decided to ask the lady next to me if this was the Intro to Psych class, and she smiled and said yes.  I then started talking to her about the textbook that we both had out and asked if she had read any of it yet, and she said she hadn’t and asked if I had, and I said I’d read the first chapter.  She then asked how much I had to pay for the book and I said only a few bucks because I got it online.  She said she got hers for around $10 at a thrift store or something like that.  I then told her about the other classes I was taking and she told me about some of the classes she’d taken.  She said she’s 50 years old and has been trying to get all the requirements to get an AA degree.  She smiled a lot and was really nice and friendly, I’m glad I sat next to her and started talking to her.

Then another girl came in and sat next to me, and asked me if this was the intro to psych class.  I smiled and said yes, and that I had actually asked the same question earlier.  I then asked her if this was her first psych class and she said yeah, and that she needed it as a nursing requirement.  She wants to transfer to a nursing program.  I then showed her my schedule and talked about classes that she liked or ones that were easy and she gave me the teachers’ names.  She and the older lady also use ratemyprofessor.com, so we talked about the reviews for this teacher and the other teachers that I was going to have.  She was really nice and friendly too.  The girl’s name was Rose, and she actually knew the other lady next to me, Patricia, from a Spanish class, so we were all talking in our row so no one was left out, which was great.  Everyone else in the room was still pretty much silent, but after we started talking it wasn’t weird being the only ones talking, and as I mentioned that I got the book for cheap online a guy in the front spun around and asked me how much I had paid for it, and I told him only a few bucks off of the internet.

Soon the class started, and the instructor, Mrs. Jaimez, introduced herself and said she had a PhD in psychology and first worked as a psychologist, and later decided to become a teacher so she could spend more time with her kids.  She said she enjoys teaching more anyhow.  She then said that she wanted each of us to introduce ourselves, say something interesting about ourselves, and then say why we were taking the class.  I felt a pang of nervousness in my stomach, but was glad that I had at least talked to the people next to me already and had already been talking and introducing myself before she made us do it to the class.  Rose looked at me and raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, as if to say “oh great” and I smiled.

She started in the front row and eventually it got to the third row and Patricia introduced herself and accidentally repeated why she was taking the class twice out of nervousness I think, but she pointed that out aloud and got some laughs.  The interesting thing she said about herself was that she works on the clavicle of the back or something like that.  I’m not sure exactly how she put it, but she pointed to her lower spine.  Then it was my turn(oh boy), and I said “Hi my name’s Brittany, I like to play tennis and go swing dancing.  I’m taking this class because I think it sounds interesting and I want to learn more about psychology.”  I did my best to speak loudly and clearly, and I think I was understood.  Then Rose went, and said she’s pregnant and due in August.  She said she’s taking this class because it’s a requirement to get into a nursing program.  Then all the 50 something people went, and when one lady said her name, Ann Healy, in a beautiful British accent, I knew that must have been my friend Emily’s mom.  I thought Emily was thinking of taking the class, but I didn’t see her there, and I didn’t expect her mom to be taking it.  I wondered if the mom would know me if I went and talked to her, since I’d never met her before and hadn’t hung out with Emily too much.  But during the break, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see her standing over me and she said she knew I was Emily’s friend and I told her I thought she was her mom.  I also said that I thought Emily was going to take the class too, but it turns out that she really wanted to volunteer at the library and ended up with a shift on Wednesdays, so she couldn’t take the class.  We talked about the class and she said a cousin had taken the class and really liked it.  She then said she was heading outside for the break and left the classroom.  I got some papers together on my desk, then decided to head down to the bathroom.  When I was at the sink washing my hands, Emily’s mom came out of one of the stalls and washed her hands too, and she started asking me about my tennis season.  I told her it had ended a few months ago, and she asked if I missed it, and I said not really because the weather’s been so bad and I have so much more free time now so that I can take these college classes.  We then talked the rest of the way back to class, and returned to our seats on the opposite side of the room.  I started talking with Patricia and Rose some more until the class started up again.

So for the actual class, it was alright.  She pretty much lectures from powerpoints and you have to really listen to what she’s saying to have good notes, because her slides are very brief and won’t tell you much of anything.  She seems nice though, I think some of her tests will be tough and I think I’ll have to spend a lot of time studying and reading the chapters assigned each week, but it should be ok.  She encourages participation and offers a lot of opportunities to participate, and I thought it would be great to raise my hand for something since I was already on a roll that night, but my shyness got the best of me and I kept my hand down, despite repeated efforts in my mind to “answer the next question”.  The next question came and went, and I found some excuse in my mind not to answer it.  For example, some of my thoughts were: I don’t want to answer that one because it’s too hard to explain, I’m not sure how to word my answer so it sounds like something I’d say and not what I just noticed in my textbook, The answer I have might not be what she’s looking for, Someone else already said the one I was going to say and anything else I say already sounds too similar, yadda yadda yadda.  My mind really needs to shut up sometimes.  But I’m so proud of myself for making 2 friends in my classes, and becoming friends with Emily’s mom.  I had a lot of good conversations, and was able to be friendly even when everyone else in the room was silent and sticking to themselves.  Normally, I’d be one of those people.  I’d be doodling, flipping through the textbook, anything to avoid making eye contact with people and attempting conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d WANT to talk to people, I’d want to make a friend, but I’d feel so awkward that I would just keep my eyes glued down rather than attempt something that could cause embarrassment or awkward lulls in conversation if I couldn’t think of what else to say.

So all that worrying was for nothing.  I did great, and I’m really happy with myself.  When 2 of my other classes start next week, hopefully they’ll go just as well, and I won’t be stressing out as much as I was this time.  But realistically, I know I’ll worry.  I just have to remind myself how well this experience went and how past experiences have gone well too.  My perception of the situation controls how I feel about it, so if I can think to myself that the class will go fine and that there’s no harm in talking to people and if I don’t it’s not the end of the world it should help.  Having expectations to talk to people makes me more nervous because I don’t want to let myself down, but they’re also helpful for me because I like to fulfill goals.  I feel a sense of pride when I set out to do what I want to do.  Unfortunately when I don’t fulfill my goals, I often feel sad and ashamed that I couldn’t open my mouth and say something to the person next to me.  So I have to be careful not to be too hard on myself and put extra pressure on myself, because that could very well backfire.

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