The Shyness Project

How Things Change with Time and Practice

My first class this semester, Art of the Cinema, started this past Wednesday morning. I took a seat in the middle of the room next to a guy wearing a newsboy hat in the beginning.  Looking around the class I wasn’t sure if was going to talk to anyone or not.  After sitting there a bit I finally asked the guy if this was the right textbook (if you don’t want to ask if this is the right class, you can always ask about the textbook to start talking to someone) and he smiled and said yeah. I introduced myself then and we shook hands.  He said his name is Jamison.  We talked a little from there.

Then class started and the teacher had us all get up out of our seats and go against the back wall to make a u-shape.  He had each of us introduce ourselves, say why we’re taking the class, and tell something we wouldn’t normally tell a stranger.  That last part made my mind race with what I could say that was revealing but not too revealing.  I didn’t have to go until near the end though and realized a lot of people were just giving a fact about themselves, so I said I love to go out swing dancing, which isn’t what I would tell someone I just met anyway unless it somehow came up.  I wasn’t nervous one bit funnily enough.

Then he had us go up to 5 people and introduce ourselves and shake hands, though I think I met at least 7 people.  Then he had us form a group of 7.  People scrambled to form groups and soon one girl and I were off to the side trying to find a group. Luckily 4 other people came over to us, then later another guy came so we became a team.  We then had to come up with a team name and were assigned a segment of film to focus on and present, and we got movement.  He had us all exchange names and numbers.  Then we watched The Aviator for a bit and he had us write notes about the director and about the elements of film we observed.  At the end he wanted us to discuss what we wrote with our group, but only the girl on my right and I actually discussed it and the others didn’t say anything.

He had us pick a spokesperson to tell the class what we discussed then.  All the other groups went, and they each had confident, outspoken speakers who had a lot to say and obviously had some film background. It was a little intimidating listening to them.  Then he looked at my group, waiting.  We hadn’t designated a spokesperson, and all the others kept their mouths closed and stared ahead.  I waited a bit, then finally spoke up and talked about how the director was really pushy and controlling but also very determined to make his movie despite all the people who told him he should quit.  I talked about how he gets what he wants too, like in the scene where he gets the girl and the scene where he gets the clouds he wants for his movie background.  I also said how I really liked the music and costumes because I love swing dance and it made me want to be there back in time.  I heard one of my group members whisper, “She nailed it!” to his friend after I finished speaking.  The teacher remembered I had said that I liked swing dance, and asked what my favorite scene from the movie was.  I couldn’t think of one so I just said I liked the scenes with the jazz music and the singing.  (Now the whole class will have it engrained in their minds that I love swing dance!)

I didn’t feel nervous at all when I spoke for my group.  It was a big auditorium, like a mini movie theater, but I just didn’t feel intimidated for some reason.  I wasn’t nervous before the class even and to introduce myself to Jamison like I did initially.  I’m probably not going to see him again because we have assigned seats now, but it was good to break the ice with someone.  After giving several presentations in Toastmasters and my speech class last year, as well as introducing myself to several new people, these  things are much more natural for me.

Are there any things that used to make you nervous that you don’t feel nervous about as much or at all anymore?  What has helped you?


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34 thoughts on “How Things Change with Time and Practice

  1. Barbara Markway on said:

    WOW, Brittany! What a difference a year has made for you. I love how you overheard someone say, “She nailed it!” I think it’s good to look back sometimes so we can see the changes we’ve made. Sometimes in the day-to-day business, we forget how far we’ve come and forget to give ourselves the deserved pat on the back. Reminds me of when my son was young and people would see him after awhile and they’d say, “He’s gotten so tall.” When I would see him every day, I wouldn’t notice. But those half-inches add up! Keep on growing, girl 🙂

    • Thank you Barb! 🙂 A lot can change in a year! Life after high school is really different too. It’s so much easier to be yourself once you’re out of that environment and away from all the hierarchies and labels. Thanks for your comment!

  2. You always have a great entry Brittany
    I like to invite you and give you this 🙂

  3. sounds like a great first class. Sounds like there are several in your class who could use some “shyness training” 🙂 You asked if there is something that used to make me nervous, that doesn’t now ? Humm…I still get the butterflies when I stand up in a large group to present, even after 30 yrs. the difference now is before the fear would keep me quiet. Now, I know it is just part of the experience. In fact one of the things on my bucket list is to give a presentation in front of a group of at least 5000.

    • It went really well! Yeah maybe, though I don’t blame them at all for not wanting to speak up. I think most people would have been intimidated, and I’m not sure why I wasn’t because normally I’m sure I’d feel the nerves too. The guy who whispered that I nailed it is actually a pretty loud guy, though he did say he is shy when it comes to speaking in a large group. And the other guys were all friends and not really paying attention to the movie and taking notes, so I think they probably felt like they had no idea what they would say. I knew I had some good points to make that hadn’t already been said so I was fine with doing it. 🙂

      Yeah that is definitely always going to be a part of the experience, no matter who you are! The thing that makes you special is that you don’t let the fear keep you from doing it, which is great. And that sounds like a great goal Doug, good luck! An audience of 5000 would certainly be very terrifying but I know you could do it! Thanks for your responses!

    • Barbara Markway on said:

      Any idea what you’d want to talk about?

      • Barb, as far as what I’d talk about….It could be on any number of different topics…as long as I feel passionate about it. I have given a 45 minute presentation on “how to write your own bucket list” several times. Lots of laughs, some personal stories from my younger days as a workaholic, priorities, what is leisure etc.

  4. Good for you, Brittany! I think just forcing yourself to do the things that scare you stops them having so much control. Something I found helpful was advice from a voice and breathing coach who said you cannot talk to fear because it is such a primal instinct and does not understand English. The only thing it understands is physicality. So rather than trying to talk yourself out of feeling nervous you just accept that you have butterflies/sweaty palms/ speedy heartbeat and focus on breathing deeply into your belly. It works every time for me. You’re doing fantastically well – Keep on challenging yourself to be the best you can be!


    • Thanks Cat for your thoughtful response! Sounds like good advice, sometimes you really can’t talk yourself out of being nervous and just have to accept it. And as for your blog, take your time with shifting your focus, and just do whatever you want to do with it. It’s ok to not know exactly and to just post whatever is on your mind from time to time, that’s what I’m doing at the moment. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Good job Brittany! I’ve been following for a while now but i’ve never commented.
    You’re really brave and do things that i shiver to even thing about! You inspired me and little by little i’m becoming more confident.
    thanks and keep it up

    • Thanks Emmie for your comment, glad to hear from you! I’m honored to have inspired you. These things can definitely be very anxiety arousing and it can be difficult to manage your thoughts and emotions. Thanks for writing!

  6. Good job Brittany! I’ve been following for a while now but i’ve never commented.
    You’re very brave and do things that i shiver to even think about. you inspired me and little by little im becoming more confident.
    thanks and keep it up!

  7. My job pretty much ensures shyness is eradicated in my mind; I wouldn’t last two minutes without my attitude!

  8. Fantastic job Brittany and well done for standing up! I find those kinds of things absolutely terrifying and I like how the teachers/presenters/whoever force you to go and talk to people because I never would otherwise. It’s a great technique and I find a lot of people are just as scared by it as I am.

    Last year I did a work presentation to a group of fairly important people, which I was really scared about doing, but when it came down to it, I really nailed it better than I could have imagined even in my wildest dreams! I felt fantastic and even enjoyed it. I don’t know how I went from terrified to confident but it was the best feeling ever.

    That’s not to say next time I have to do a presentation I won’t go back to being nervous and make a total mess of it 🙂 But at least I know I have done it once.

    • That’s awesome sleepydwarf! Sounds like gave a wonderful presentation! It’s great to have positive and encouraging experiences like that so next time you give a presentation you can remember the success in the past. Not to say you still won’t freak out about the presentation, but it helps! 🙂 Thanks for sharing that and writing!

  9. It seems you’ve discovered that it’s easier to do some of these “scary” things once you realize that 90% of the people you’re with are as scared or more scared of it than you are – that goes a long way toward making it easier. Then you get to be the impressive one! Nice job!

  10. Great job Brittany. It was an inspiring post. Yes, it’s always good to break the Ice with someone. But that is the only thing I am not good at. I can’t start the conversion with another person until that person make me comfortable. You are really a brave person, we all need to learn lots of things from you. 🙂

    • Britanny, I just want you to inform that I pass on a blog award called “The Versatile Blogger Award” to your blog. You can check my blog’s latest post for more details on that one.

      • Thanks Arindam! Practice helps with that, I used to get really anxious about starting a conversation with someone I didn’t know and there are still times when I get nervous about it, but now that I’ve done it enough it seems much simpler. All it takes is one comment or question really. And thanks for the award! I appreciate it. Thanks for writing!

  11. Congratulations! I totally know how you feel. Public speaking has always made me nervous, but a few years ago it would have just been a terrifying experience where I would literally be shaking and wouldn’t know how to articulate anything I wanted to say. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have to.

    I knew the only way to get better at it was to get used to it through practice. I would practice extra hard before a class presentation and think of answers to questions I might be asked. It does get easier and even though I’ll always feel a bit nervous before presenting in public, things have a come a long way. As it has for you it seems 🙂

  12. Clap! Clap! Clap! I can imagine myself in the very same place listening to and in awe of that pretty girl who loves swing dance.

  13. Oh, god. Reading your post, it reminded me college and in particular an english class where the teacher made us do the same thing. I remember how nervous I was and how I hated it. For some reason, I felt relieved it went so well for you! None of my teachers do that anymore, probably because there are too many people in my classes. And I must say, I am glad I do not have to go through this anymore. ^^

    “Are there any things that used to make you nervous that you don’t feel nervous about as much or at all anymore?” –> Good question. I shall think seriously about it some time. Perhaps I should make a list and look at it when I feel I am not making any progress.

    • Yeah in my other classes this semester we didn’t have to do anything like this and it has been much more lecture-based. It’s interesting that I just had to do this for this class. Glad you don’t have to do it anymore!

      It’s a good thing to think about as I know you’ve made a lot of progress as well. It’s not a straight path as we’ve heard from Barb, but progress is always progress. You can feel great and in control one day and then the next feel like you’re losing control. Just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks for writing Vee!

  14. Nice post i lobe it I invite you here my friend for lauching 🙂

  15. Nice report and I am sorry it took me awhile to get to read it, but it was well worth the stopping by to check in and it sounded interesting

    I am working on asking for help, I need to learn how to make money – I have avoided this issue all my life but now need to pay off my child’s medical bills so my partner can eventually retire and we will have some funds to live on. I have come to the point of overtly asking for help, which just scares my socks off.

    So far I think I have gotten my server modem fixed and several new folks on my Wise Ears facebook page so my site will go out to more people to use my professional listening services.

    I am writing on lots of blogs, now that I do not have to do it from my cell phone – that is a hard way to blog

    I only took one class in swing dancing for an afternoon and it was quite fun. I also loving doing Dances of Universal Peace…

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