On Friendships and Shyness
“One thing about high school is that you learn who your real friends are.”
That’s what my friend Annie said to me and 2 of our friends at lunch today.
I’ve never had a big group of friends. At times, I’ve had none. Other times I’ve had one or two. Now I have about 4 true friends who I’ve really opened up to and can rely on, and a few others that were once close but I’ve sort of lost touch with. I know a lot of people from being on my school’s tennis team, from joining school clubs, and taking classes. But it’s hard to find those true friends that will stick with you over the years and that you can have really deep and honest conversations with.
So you may be wondering, what does The Shyness Project have to do with friendship? Quite a bit, actually.
I’ve read through a ton of books on careers. And I’ve also done a lot of those exercises that are included in the book to help you find the right career. I remember one of the exercises was to write about some of your happiest times, and after reading over my response, I realized that a lot of my happiest times were because of friends. Good friends can boost mood, confidence, and happiness. And all those things can really help me with confronting my shyness. The more support that I feel like I have, the more confident I am likely to feel when I’m doing something outside my comfort zone.
As good friends as they are, I have only told my mom about this project. She was the only one I opened up to about this when we were going on a walk one day before the new year. I was really nervous to tell her about it, because by telling her I was basically taking the first step to committing myself to follow through with this. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone else though, not even my brothers, dad, or closest of friends.
Why? Embarrassment, I suppose. I don’t think anyone else realizes that I have as much anxiety and worries going on in my head as I do. I think they see me simply as shy and calm (a lot of people think I’m “calm”, if only they spent a day inside my head!). And I don’t want to tell them otherwise because I don’t want them to look at me differently or to feel sorry for me. I think it would surprise them that I have a lot of difficulties with basic things like making a phone call or striking up a conversation with someone. One of my friends, who is the one I’d say I’m the closest with, does basically know how hard these things can be for me. I don’t think I’ve gone into as much detail with all the negative thoughts and anxiousness though. I’m just really not comfortable talking about my shyness to friends and even family. I’m very sensitive about it, and whenever someone says “She’s so shy…” like I’m not even there, I feel ashamed and my eyes start tearing up, even though I usually hide it well so they have no idea. I’ve had others ask me why I’m so shy, and again I get teary eyed and can usually only manage a smile, even though I don’t feel like smiling much. I really don’t know what to say to that, so I say something brief or say I don’t know. Plus my eyes tear up unfailingly every time something like that is brought up, so it’s hard to say much when you’re trying to force back tears without anyone noticing. It makes me feel the worst when someone says something like that after I feel like I’ve done a good job of being outgoing. It crushes and frustrates me, and makes me feel like my efforts weren’t even noticed. I don’t know why people have to make comments about others’ shyness/quietness. Do they realize that it might be something they are sensitive about and would rather not talk about? Do they do it to make themselves feel better? I would think that it would be a lot more thoughtful for a person to just try engaging that person in a conversation rather than just pointing out their shyness.
This blog is the most honest public writing I’ve ever done. Usually this kind of stuff is only seen by me in my private journal. But now I barely write in there anymore, because I feel like I can open up here. After telling my mom, the next major step was making this blog and having it be public. I felt like once I did that, there was no going back. And thanks to support from the unbelievably kind and supportive bloggers I’ve met so far, I’m more determined to keep going forward.