The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Miscellaneous Musings”

Painfully Shy

A neon green package arrived in my mailbox on Thursday.

I hastily tried to open it.  Soon enough, I pulled out the book, Painfully Shy, by Barbara and Gregory Markway.  I eagerly glanced inside the book to read the message written to me with my mom.

The message was very kind and is one I will always love and treasure.  Her closing line was “You have a gentle charisma that shines through in your writing, and I also saw it in your Icebreaker Speech.”

This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a book sent to me.  I’ve never even had a book signed before!

I have only gotten to read a little bit of her book so far, but I’ve already been hooked and have sticky notes on several pages.  I love reading the stories of all the people Barb has met working as a psychologist in particular.  And I love reading about her personal experiences with shyness and anxiety too, and getting to know her even better through the book.

Barb found me thanks to a comment I made on the Quiet: The Power of Introverts blog.  She contacted me and asked me to send her an email, so I did.  It was then that she told me that she could relate to so much of my blog and wanted to send me one of her books that shared several of her experiences.  She said she doesn’t think I am painfully shy anymore, but that it might give me some ideas for my project .  I was flattered and told her that would be awesome.

She’s been very interested in my project and has been a pleasure to talk to through email.  It’s been great emailing back and forth and we’ve become fast friends.  (I can’t help but write book-length emails to her every time!) I’m very honored to get to know her!  She is one cool lady who I’d love to meet in person.  So go to her site, and fill it with lots of good comments.  She has really great, thought-provoking posts!  I can’t wait to read more of her book!

Barbara Markway, Ph.D., is a psychologist and author. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including: the New York Times, Washington Post, Today Show, and Good Morning America. Her first book, Dying of Embarrassment, has been named one of the most scientifically valid self-help books in a study published in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice.

Stylish Blogger Award

Thank you gmomj for the Stylish Blogger Award a few weeks ago!

According to gmomj’s post I need to write 7 things about myself.

Then I am to pass the honor on to 15 other bloggers and tell them about the good news.

Here are my 7 things, written just for you:

1) I love swing dancing, especially lindy hop.  I wish I was able to go more often and could actually take lessons, but my town doesn’t have too much going on like that.

2) I have two older brothers, Andrew and Sean, who are 11 and 8 years older than me, respectively.  Despite the large age gap, we get along wonderfully, and I am friends with many of their friends.  My young age is often forgotten (and sometimes not even realized) because I get along with and relate to people older than me very well.

3) I would like to write and publish a book one day.  It would be amazing if I could turn this journey into a book so it would reach more people who are struggling with any of the things I’m going through and could bring more awareness about shyness and anxiety.

4) I think it is incredible how blogging can connect you with so many people, and how some of the connections you make feel like real friends.  I would love to meet all of you in person, I really would.

5) I love movies and books.  I like escaping reality from time to time and getting wrapped up in someone else’s story and world.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot from reading especially.

6) I am having a really really hard time choosing a college major, as well as a career.  I think it’s a huge decision to be making at 18, and I don’t know how others can be so sure of what they’ll want to do in the future.  There are just so many choices, so many possibilities, that it’s hard to just pick one.  Especially when you’re trying to figure out what your ultimate “passion” is, and at the same time choose something that you think you can support yourself and a future family off of.

7) I would like to travel to many different countries.  I’ve thought of studying abroad, teaching English abroad, volunteering abroad, and so forth.

Now, go check these blogs out!  The writers are awesome, and I’m grateful to have met them through this blog:

It’s Always the Quiet Ones

Sometimes people have preconceived judgments or assumptions about shy or quiet people.

I remember an instance like this in my 9th grade health class, for example.  I didn’t really have any friends in this class except for a person or two that I would occasionally partner up with, and most of the class was divided into distinct “groups”.  I mostly did my work quietly while the others around me would get in their social group and talk all period.

A new girl came to our school, and ended up sitting behind me.  I was sort of friendly at first, but then the more annoying she got the more I withdrew.  She would stroke my back weirdly from time to time or pull on my hair even when I told her to stop.   She was loud and wasn’t afraid to make offensive remarks about people it seemed.

One day, she asked me something like, “You know, the quiet/shy ones are the ones most likely to commit suicide, or shoot their classmates.”  I was flabbergasted (yes, I said flabbergasted) by her comment, and was angry at her for even thinking that, let alone saying that to me.  Just because a few people who have been shy or quiet have been the culprits of school shootings or have committed suicide doesn’t mean that being shy or quiet makes you more likely to do something like that.  Also, shyness is not necessarily linked with low self-esteem, depression, or anger.    I have a fairly healthy self-esteem yet still feel shy.  Sure sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll embarrass myself or get those anxious thoughts, but really it’s all because I want to do well.  I like who I am, even if I do want to improve myself.  I’ve always been one striving for personal growth, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I’m not depressed, though I have felt down from time to time like all people do.  I’ve never felt any hostile feelings toward others; nothing is bottled up or repressed.  And I don’t think it’s fair to assume that someone is feeling any of those things just because you see them as a shy or quiet person.  It’s not “always the quiet ones”, as some people like to say, even when they’re just joking.

What do you think?  Do you think it’s fair to assume the shy or quiet ones are “up to something”?  Does that comment ever annoy you when you hear it?

Some interesting discussions I found about it here:

A Solitary Walk


This week has been my spring break from school, and unfortunately it’s been raining hard all week so I’ve mostly stayed indoors.  I’ve been reading a lot though, and have a lot of books checked out on shyness as well as some other books that I’m simultaneously reading (I read too many books at once).  I did meet up with some friends for volunteer work at school on Monday though, and did some work for my internship yesterday and helped the client see where his water usage was going.

Today was finally a sunny day though, at least on and off it was, as it’s been raining today too.  After spending my morning reading a book on shyness and taking notes, I decided it was a good day for a walk.  So I got dressed and asked my mom if she wanted to go with me, but she didn’t really.  I was thinking of calling my neighbor to see if she wanted me to take the dogs today or not, since she was home today.  I was sort of hesitant about calling, but then just pressed the button and did it without feeling any nervous symptoms thankfully.  It turns out that she didn’t want me to take the dogs today since she was going to take them, but at least I asked.  I gave myself a little pat on the back afterward, haha. 🙂

I wondered if I should just stay home then and not go walking, since my mom didn’t want to go and I didn’t need to take the dogs today.  I decided to go out on my own, even though it’s been a little while since I’ve walked around on my own and I prefer to be with people or the dogs.  I feel more self-conscious when I’m on my own when it comes to exercising.

As I walked and all these cars drove past me, I did notice that I felt kind of anxious though and couldn’t focus on my thoughts as well as I would have liked.  I felt like each person passing by in their car was watching me and I was very self-conscious about my movements and expression.

I made eye contact with, smiled, and said hi to every person I passed though, and they each said hi back to me, or nodded or smiled.  I walked until I reached the park, and then ran a lap around it and walked some of it.  I went over to pet a cute dog  that was going crazy with excitement trying to go over to me, and I talked to the owner (and the dog) for a little while, said it was nice to meet him, and then moved on.  I ran up the hill on the way home, and by the time I reached my court I was really out of breath. I saw a neighbor who I’d never spoken to before at the stop sign, and he started talking to me and I talked to him for a little while.  He said he had seen a girl running in the pouring rain yesterday and asked if that was me, and I said no and that I wasn’t THAT dedicated to running.  The rain was madness yesterday, it was bad enough that I had to drive in it, but I wouldn’t go running in that weather. I felt good after my walk/run and shower, it’s amazing what exercise can do for you.

Apologizing for Shyness

Sometimes people feel a need to apologize for others’ shyness.  (or their own)

I distinctly remember in 8th grade when we had to do a self-defense unit, and my teacher said “Brittany doesn’t talk” with a smile to the instructor who was complaining that I didn’t yell loud enough when practicing attacking her in front of the others.

The sad thing is that I had that teacher for two years and thought I had talked to him quite a bit, especially the year before.  I was quiet in his class, but I talked to the friends I made, so I wasn’t silent.  That was the class where I went over and introduced myself to a girl who had just moved here from Brazil and was by herself.  Ever since then we’ve been good friends, and at one point the closest of friends.

People often would say that I don’t talk, even when I’ve talked to them or talk to my friends.  I guess they mean I don’t talk as much around them.  Because in every class I’ve been in I have talked, just maybe not enough to be considered talking to them I guess.

I’ve let some things slip that I later kicked myself for though too.   Last month I told a stranger that my neighbor’s dog Dexter was “just a little shy” when the other dog Penny raced up to the stranger while Dexter hid behind my legs.

I don’t know why I did that; I didn’t have to justify his behavior.  So now if that happens again I won’t say anything about that, and if they ask, I’ll simply say that he likes to take his time getting to know people.  When you apologize for shyness it makes it seem like a bad thing, and you’re also labeling that person (or animal in my case) as shy, making them think that they must be shy then.  It’s important to be careful to avoid doing that, as it has a greater effect than you might think.

From Teenager to Adult

Today is my 18th birthday, and it’s been a pretty good day.  I got some really nice gifts from friends and family, and I appreciate those who wished me a happy birthday.  I guess I’ll have to update my age on my “about me” page now!  It still hasn’t quite hit me that I’m 18, but I’m sure soon I’ll get used to it. I’ve come a long ways over the years, and still have a lot more growing to do.

My brother Andrew called me tonight, and we caught up on what we’d been up to.  For some reason I mentioned that I had a blog going that was a one-year project, and he was interested in seeing it.  I couldn’t bring myself to say what it was about, but said that it was a personal blog and I wasn’t sure how he’d react to it so I hadn’t told him about it before.  I think that came off wrong though and he misinterpreted what I meant.  I just couldn’t say the words “shyness project” because I was afraid I’d get emotional, and wasn’t sure what kind of response I’d get.  It was a start to telling someone about it though.  I’ve hesitated to tell anyone because I don’t want my writing to become too careful or restricted. I want to be able to be honest about how I’m feeling and what I’m doing.  I’m sure he’d be supportive, but like I’ve said before, I tend to avoid conversations about my shyness except on here.

Elective Fair Rant

Today out of the blue a few of my friends and I were asked to volunteer at the Elective Fair Booth for Webpage Design class.  I didn’t really want to do it, but we said we would.

The elective fair was alright, I talked to some people about what you learn and get to do in the class.  I saw a few friends and talked to them too.

One tall, skinny, and geeky guy came up to our booth.  I recognized him from my cooking class freshman year.  He started talking to my friend, and I got annoyed with him right away.

Some of the students in the Sports Med class had made a scene in the middle of the gym and were acting out that someone was injured and needed help.  This guy commented on that and asked my friend (in a heckling tone) why she wasn’t out there acting in the middle of the room, saying “not your thing huh, you don’t like being the center of attention.  You’re so quiet in class.”  Then he turned to me and said we had been in cooking together and that I’d never said a word and was like her, and that we probably got along well.  He was being really annoying, obnoxious, and straight up rude.  All the while he was smiling too even though he was being so randomly rude.  I smiled at him but in my mind I couldn’t believe what a cocky jerk he was and why he would just come out of the blue and rant on that.  I didn’t feel any shame though, which was great.  I just thought, “What a jerk!”.  I guess he thinks he’s so much better for being so talkative, but I think he’s pretty arrogant.


Well today’s date is pretty cool.  It’s supposedly a lucky day, and was apparently the senior skip day for my high school, though I didn’t even realize it.  I wouldn’t have skipped anyways.  I think the only classes I noticed that people were missing from were 1st and 6th period, especially 6th, where there were only like 10 of us out of a class of 35 or so.  It was a pretty easy day, it mostly consisted of watching movies and listening to guest presentations.

After school I walked Penny and Dexter again with Sean.  I had Dexter on one leash and Sean took Penny on the other, and this worked much better.  Still they got their leashes tangled up sometimes because they both wanted to be next to each other and sniff this and pee on that.  It was really cold outside, and it started sprinkling for a lot of the walk, and raining harder near the end.  We walked for nearly 2 hours, and my legs feel a little sore now.  I think the dogs had a good time though, despite some of the coldness and wetness we had to endure.  I gave them treats afterward and they seemed pretty happy.

Other than that today was pretty uneventful, unlike yesterday where a lot was going on.  But I did make some observations today.  As I was walking to my 6th period class today, navigating through the crowds, I thought to myself “Everyone’s concerned about themselves, they don’t care what I’m doing.”  This seemed to help me relax and worry less about where I’m looking and who I’m looking at.  I never know if I should stare ahead when passing by people, or if I should make eye contact and attempt a smile or something.  I usually think too much about it and worry about how I’m coming off. Reminding myself not to worry about it helped though.

Thoughts and Realizations

So far, I’ve noticed that having this shyness project and keeping this blog has been encouraging me to go outside and do things each day.  Having a blog keeps me motivated to do something every day, and I’ve noticed I’ve been a lot busier and more active than I normally am. Usually I’m content to just stay at home all day and read, go on the internet, or write.  I still do some of that stuff, but not as much as before and I’ve tried to fill my days up more with things to do.  I  notice that keeping busy and putting myself out there has been increasing my confidence.  I also notice that certain topics like careers and majors are something that I can easily talk about and go on and on about.

I’ve made a couple of phone calls in the past few days to friends I haven’t talked to in a while, and I’ve noticed that it’s a lot easier if I just pick up the phone and dial their number right away and hit send.  Sure maybe my heart will start beating really fast, but taking some deep breaths and looking myself in the mirror and reminding myself that I am confident and well-liked helps me relax a little.  The longer I wait to call someone the worse it gets, so it’s better to just do it quick without too much thinking.

The more I’ve been interacting with people, the happier I’ve been too.  I can honestly say that I’m doing great right now when people ask, whereas earlier before this project in late December I would shrug and say I was alright.  I spent a lot of time off on my own reading and writing, and didn’t spend much time trying to interact with anyone.

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