The Shyness Project

On calling someone shy or quiet

In Lit class my teacher was talking about a group presentation and randomly asked for people to raise their hand if they talk a lot. One guy I talk to J and several others raised their hand.

He then asked others to raise their hand if they’re quiet and don’t talk much.  I kept my hand down, and J said “Raise your hand!” and I was like heck no techno and told him that I had talked the whole time during our group discussion.  I thought, I don’t care what you think, I don’t have to identify myself with that anymore if I don’t want to, even if you think I’m in denial.

It’s a situational thing, and depends where I am and who I am with.  There’s no need to keep making the fundamental attribution error anymore and keep calling me quiet just because you see me as being that way in class.  I just like to actually listen to what the teacher is saying and like to get as much of my work done as possible so I have less to do at home.  And if I don’t have friends in that class and most of the class is grouped up, I’m content to just sit and get my work done rather than chatter.

Being quiet isn’t a bad thing, I know, I am just so tired of hearing that and having people tell me what I am.  Talk to me more if you want, I’ll talk back for sure.  So what if others do think I am quiet and shy?  Well, there’s nothing I can do about that, and they are free to think whatever they want to think.  It hurts and it’s frustrating that others may think of you in a way that you’d rather they didn’t think of you, but it’s ok.  I’m probably overly-sensitive about it, but maybe I am not the only one.

Well, I just googled it, and I am definitely not the only one who feels hurt when people call them shy or quiet.  Go figure.  If you didn’t know that making a remark like that could hurt someone’s feelings, hopefully you’ll now know for the future.  These are all worth taking a peek at.


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19 thoughts on “On calling someone shy or quiet

  1. Having people think of you in a way that you would rather not identify with is difficult. People will always think what they want regardless of the truth or how the person feels. You might be over sensitive simply because you are trying to improve yourself. Your Shyness Project may not go so smoothly or be noticeable for people who don’t realize your new effort.

    The important thing is what you think. I’m glad you googled it and found that you aren’t the only one. Whenever we go through things (anything) we can take comfort in knowing someone else either went through or is going through the same thing or even something worse. The reason I say you can take comfort is because being a strong person like yourself, you know if they are dealing with it; you can too. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

    I once heard that God doesn’t put more on us than we can successfully bear. Besides all that I wrote… People could care less most of the time if the things that come out of their mouth hurts someone else. Have a great Memorial Day and I hope what I wrote made sense.

    • Thanks Tom! 🙂 It is difficult, but I’m glad that his comment didn’t actually bother me and that’s why I stood up for myself rather than agreeing. I’ve actually been less sensitive about it since the project, since I’m starting to see that some people just don’t really know me. It’s just that I still think it’s something I wish people wouldn’t say about others and I kind of wanted to spread that awareness to anyone who happens to come across this blog.

      Definitely, that is one of the things I’m learning from this project. It’s easy to say that, but harder to really believe, and I’m getting better at it. It’s good to know that others have gone through or are going through similar things to you. That’s why I think opening up about this for others to see is not only good for me but for anyone else who might take comfort in that they aren’t alone. Thanks, I appreciate that.

      Yeah I guess not everyone really cares about how their words might hurt others, but I hope they try and be somewhat courteous. Thanks for writing, and have a great Memorial Day too!

    • I’m a “shy” person myself. I do not know why it didn’t dawn on to mention it before. I guess I never really think about it unless I turn out to be the center of attention. You know, when you say something and there is more than 5 people in ear shot. Public speaking brings out my timidity. I hate to use that word but I feel fear grip me, my voice changes and I feel like everyone is ready to criticize my every word. One on one I am fine, even with two or three others. Any more and I’m uncomfortable.

      I don’t know why I am like this. I’m a great listener, I give great advice (because people actually use it and come back for more), so why am I so self conscious? Only God knows…

      This doesn’t have anything to do with being shy, but I posted this awhile back and I would love for every female who can read to read it. (

      If you so desire, leave a comment. Thanks Brittany.

  2. Thanks for sharing that you are a “shy” person Tom, I wouldn’t have known that if you hadn’t mentioned it. I understand what you mean, and I think that I mostly become aware of my shyness in the larger group settings too. I have a harder time speaking up when I know a bunch of eyes are going to turn to me. I’m more of a one-on-one, or small group person too.

    I don’t know why I’m like this either, but I think it’s a combo of nature and nurture, as most everything is. I think being a great listener and giving great advice are both very admirable traits, and I’m glad that you can see those qualities in yourself. I know that I really appreciate it when people really listen to me and take an interest in what I’m saying.

    All right, I will go check it out! Thanks again for your comments Tom! 🙂

  3. Glad you stood up for yourself. Every little victory counts, young lady. Good job!

  4. I was thinking of your project here last night and I came to a conclusion; this would make a great reality program! Seriously, there are actually programs out there that help, not exploit, people.
    You could fashion a show like the Biggest Loser, that brings people with a common goal together and challenges them to overcome whatever has been holding them back. I’m not suggesting shyness is a major defect, but some people have so much anxiety they can’t leave their homes!
    You could help change all that. just think about it. I’d reather see a show like this than some fluff piece like Cake Boss!

    • Good idea Hook, I’m glad you were thinking about it! I don’t know much about it, but isn’t the show Challenge Day like that? I think a show like that would be pretty cool to watch though, as long as people were comfortable exposing that much of themselves on camera, which I imagine would be tough. I don’t know if I’d want to make a tv show but maybe I’d make some sort of program like that where I can help people. This blog is a good step in that direction too, and probably a book would reach even more people. I think for now changing my own choices is the only way I can make any sort of impact, and hopefully that will encourage others to make their own changes with things that they believe have been holding them back. I mean it doesn’t just have to be about shyness, it could be weight, phobias, insecurities, ambitions, etc, anything that has been bothering you. This is one of the ways I’m hoping to make a difference though, and getting emails and comments where people say that I’ve inspired them to do this or try that has been pretty awesome. Thanks for writing Hook, I like your thinking!

  5. kindamixedup on said:

    I guess the problem is not being called “shy” or “quiet” /per se/, but to be called so repeatedly AND the fact that then people think, since it’s so difficult to get to know so-called ‘shy’ or ‘quiet’ people that they — for some obscure reason — think that there is nothing more to us than being shy and/or quiet.
    Quick book suggestion: The introvert advantage. Have you heard of it and is so, have you read it? It made me change the way I approach this issue (i.e. being “shy”, “quiet” or “introverted” and whether or not it is a good or a bad thing).

    • Yeah I think hearing it repeatedly is the problem, and that it sometimes seems to be said as if there’s something wrong with you. I don’t think anyone really ever says “Why are you so loud?”. And yeah, it seems like once you are called that it’s all that the person sees and they just don’t see all the great things about you underneath the surface perception they might have.

      Thanks for the book suggestion, I just requested it from the library. It’s cool that it changed your approach, I like it when books do that. Thanks for your comment Vee!

  6. I hate it when people call me shy or an introvert, my dad also used to call me shy when I was younger and it made me very cross, just because I do not find interest in talking all day long does not mean you idiots have to call me anti-social or whatever, and it is people I greet and help with school work who say that ANGRY:@.

    • I’m sorry your peers keep calling you shy, I know it’s very frustrating. 😦 The next time someone says that to you, perhaps try letting them know that you’d rather not be called that and that their commentary is hurtful? It may not help if they are otherwise thoughtless people, but it might keep some who actually care from saying it.

  7. There is something else which irritates and depresses me sometimes..Even people who r of my age talk to me as if i am a CHILD… Instructions like dont be shy, speak to my friend when we meet him etc … Makes me feel like a Shit

    • Yeah I would definitely feel the same way if someone said that to me, though sometimes when people make comments like that it just shows me pretty quickly that they aren’t people I’d feel comfortable around and would want to spend more time with. Hopefully you can find people who are more thoughtful and you don’t have to spend too much time with those who aren’t willing to listen when you explain how their comments makes you feel.

      • Shy people like me and you will never be able to project ourselves as ‘ normal’ or ‘smart’ like others…I have always felt discouraged and gave up even trying to come across as confident / talkative..I meet every new person with the hope of making him believe that iam a ‘normal’ guy who is sociable..But i always end up getting labelled as shy/quiet/scared one, as usual…

        I have read all your posts in this blog…Reading the experiences of your first day at college and the way you mingled with others or made friends, made me think that you have actually succeeded in growing out of that ‘shy/quiet’ label stuck upon you all your life..But then suddenly i hit this post …..Why is it that people like us always will get stuck with this label even aftr trying hard to be different ? What is making people think of you as ‘quiet’ even when you talk a lot ?

        • I think if we think of ourselves as “shy people,” then we probably will have a hard time feeling confident and unrestricted. That’s why I stopped identifying myself as “shy” and would talk to people about how their comment made me feel if I was ever called shy again. (The word carries a lot of baggage.) It helped a lot, and those people usually felt bad, not knowing I was hurt by their comment, and would make an effort to not say anything like that again to me. Having a genuine interest in getting to know others helped me in my effort to reach out to others and I don’t hear comments like that much at all anymore. I do hear comments on me being more quiet though, and I tried to fight that for a long time, but really, I suppose I do have a softer voice and more “calm” mannerisms so I’ve come to be ok with that, as long as it’s not my overarching identity.

          Thank you for taking the tremendous amount of time to do that, that is awesome! Yes this post was written in my last year of high school, and I realized after I graduated that high school was a much tougher time to escape the restrictions and labels others tried to impose on me. College was a whole new ball game to start anew. A lot of the people I was around in high school were quite extroverted and more than just a little dramatic as well, so in comparison to them, of course I seemed different. But I’ve realized that’s ok now, because I don’t have to be a super energetic and loud person that I once felt bad about not being in high school. I think the “shy” label is often used without much thought by people who don’t know you well and haven’t put much thought into it, whereas “quiet” seems to be more about mannerisms and how “loud” you are with your voice or movements. That’s what I’ve come to think so far at least, I’m sure it all depends on your experiences and the people you come across though. Thanks for your thoughtful post! You got me thinking this morning, and that’s always a good thing. 🙂

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