The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Month 2 Rekindling Friendships”

Lunch Disclosures

Lately there haven’t been a whole lot of opportunities to raise my hand in front of the whole class.  On Thursday I raised my hand a few times but since we were on the computer for those classes the teacher just came by and helped me one-on-one. It’s still been good practice though asking for help when I need it instead of trying to figure out certain things on my own so I don’t have to ask.

I spent lunch with a close friend Thursday.  We talked about general things at first that weren’t too personal, like upcoming dances, volunteer work, the weekend, etc. Eventually she brought up the topic of her weight again and she thinks if she loses so much weight that she’ll be more confident and self-assured.  I told her again that she didn’t need to lose that much weight, but if she really wanted to lose some weight she should do it safely.  I suggested exercising more and eating less, but not to the point where you’re starving yourself.  She said she’s really sensitive about her weight and easily upset.  I decided now was as good a time as ever to open up to her that my insecurity is my shyness and I’m really sensitive about it.  I told her how I dislike being called shy and every time someone says that to me, even her, it makes me upset.  I’d been meaning to sort of confront her about this for a while now since I’d heard her go on about that I’m “too shy” or “I wish you were more out there”, etc, and it’d always hurt my feelings.  I finally brought it up though, even though I was afraid of “making something out of nothing” by talking about things she’d said to me a while ago.

She said she didn’t know I was sensitive about it and that it hurt my feelings, and apologized and gave me a hug.  I went on about it and said there are a lot of good things about shyness too and it doesn’t have to be seen as a weakness. I said I was trying to work on things like talking to strangers and raising my hand too.  I told her that I work hard to be outgoing, and I wish I was just accepted by her.  Hopefully she’ll understand now that her sensitivity to being called fat is like my sensitivity to being called shy.  Since I started this project though, I have become less sensitive about it and have started embracing more of my shyness.

Japanese Restaurant- First Sushi!

Today I went to a Japanese restaurant for the first time after school!  Yesterday my friend Sue, our new friend Charmagne, and I all randomly decided that we would go out to eat sushi tomorrow.  I’d never had sushi before and I wanted to try it.  (I tend to stick to familiar foods, but I’m trying to be more open to new foods.)  So we made plans, and went today!

We went to a place called Suruki’s and I got chicken teriyaki and we all split this sushi called Mighty Dragon.  The food came pretty fast, and the chicken teriyaki was really good!  I thought the sushi was ok, not great but not bad either.  I’m glad I hadn’t just ordered sushi though, because I think if I had too much of it I would have gotten sick of it.  I tried using chop sticks a couple of times too since it was the second time I’d ever picked up chopsticks.  I was pretty bad at using them but eventually picked up a piece of chicken and ate it.  After I accomplished that, I decided I could go back to using my fork.  🙂

We took a few pictures and it was fun.  I mostly just hang out with Sue at school and it was good to hang out with her outside of school.  And it was good getting to know Charmagne better too.  I’m glad I can finally say that I’ve tried sushi now, even if it’s just the rolls!  🙂

Lunch with Maria and the Topic of Dreams

Today I had lunch with a friend, Maria, who I needed to catch up with.  We’ve hung out once at Berkeley this year, but other than that we haven’t spent nearly as much time together as we used to.

So we made plans through Facebook, and we decided to go off campus to Jamba Juice, even though I hardly ever go off campus because I don’t want to risk being late back to school.  But she suggested we have lunch since her weekends are busy, so I said that sounded good and it was set.

Oddly enough, I had a dream this morning that I had forgotten that I was supposed to meet her for lunch.  It was such an interesting and relevant dream to me that I wrote it down as soon as I woke up.

In the dream, it started off that I was looking for my hotel room so that I could take a shower.  Apparently the whole school was staying at this hotel, which was a weird hotel because it was located in some ordinary department store.  I wandered all around the store, opening different doors, but I couldn’t find my room.  I saw some really fancy rooms with huge green lounge chairs and other elegant furniture.  I even walked into a big dark room where there was a taiko drumming performance as well as some fire performance.

While wandering around, I ran into one of my teachers and he walked around with me trying to find my room.  Then my teacher suddenly changed into my tennis coach and instead I was walking around with him.

As we were walking through the store, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to meet Maria for Jamba Juice and I felt really bad.  I didn’t know how I could have forgotten since I’d been thinking about it in the morning.

Then wouldn’t you know it, I ran into Maria at the store and she was with another friend Alyssa.  Maria’s eyes were all watery and she was mad at me for not showing.  I said I was really sorry and I didn’t know how I had forgotten, but that I’d make up for it.  After much apologizing on my part she said it was alright and then me, Maria, and Alyssa walked outside down a path, and my coach just disappeared.

Once outside, we ran into another one of my friends Sue.  It was a beautiful sunny day and there was a huge grass field up ahead.  We all started running as fast as we could on the grass, playfully and happily, and then Sue got tired and stopped so we all stopped and sat on the grass.  We then played some game where we knocked some big inflatable beach ball around, but it didn’t really have a definite shape and was changing form a lot.  It seemed like a really good day though.

Then I woke up at 6:30am.  It’s funny how so much of what was on my mind was in that dream.  Last night in psychology our lecture was on dreams and sleeping after we took our exam.  After I got home I meant to take a shower, but had forgotten, so I felt like I needed to take one.  And yesterday I had talked with my friend Sue and another friend Charmagne that I don’t know as well about going to a festival with a parade. They were saying that there are these taiko drummers in the parade and I was looking at pictures of them.  I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget about my lunch plans made over the weekend with Maria, and I recently reconnected with Alyssa, so that’s where they came in.  It was really interesting to me.  I even felt bad when I woke up this morning, like I had actually forgotten.  But then I remembered that I was meeting her today, so I showered, and then wrote “Jamba Juice” on the back of my hand so I would be sure to remember.  I decided it would be a funny thing to share with Maria.

So we met up at lunch, got in her car, and went to Jamba Juice.  I was going to pay for my own when she caught me and insisted on paying as a treat for my belated birthday.  We each got a smoothie and split a chicken wrap, which was pretty good.  She drove back to school and we ate lunch in her car, since she doesn’t like having to worry about being late either she said.

We talked about spring break plans, my psych exam yesterday, and some other things.  I told her about how my class yesterday was about sleeping and dreaming, and then told her about the dream I’d just had and how it related to everything I was thinking about.

She thought my dream was funny and that it was really cool that I could remember that much.  She told me about some of the dreams she’d had, and I told her some of my other ones I’d had before.  I talked about what we had learned in psychology the previous night too, and we actually ended up talking about dreams most of the lunch period.  It was an interesting conversation; I always like hearing about other people’s dreams.

Then the bell rang signaling the end of lunch, so I hugged her, thanked her for lunch, and headed off to my class.  It was good spending lunch with her today, and I’m really glad that I didn’t actually forget to meet her!  Haha.   🙂

Calling Colorado

I tried calling my friend Brian last Tuesday night to try and catch up with him, but he didn’t answer.  Brian moved to Colorado last summer and I miss him a lot, he’s truly a remarkable guy.  He’s very enthusiastic, funny, and an all around great person.  I’d only called him a few times after he moved though, and felt like I should call him again soon.  I think the last time I’d talked to him was September, so I was nervous about calling and jotted down some ideas of things I could talk about if for some reason my mind went blank.  Yes, admittedly I make those little lists of ideas a lot, and they can be helpful.

The next night the phone rang at 10pm, and I didn’t get to it in time.  I saw that Brian had just called, and I hesitated about calling him back right then.  I wondered if I should just wait until the next day, since I usually try to go to bed at around 10pm.  I knew we’d probably be talking for a while, since the previous phone conversations I’d had with him had lasted 3 hours on average, a time remarkably long for me.

But I decided heck with it (I’m noticing I’m deciding this more often now) and called him back.  I smiled as the phone was ringing, and didn’t feel an ounce of nervousness in me, strangely enough.   (I guess it really does help to press send right away before I can start thinking about what I’m doing too much. )

I heard the phone ringing several times, and I almost thought I might get the message machine, when I heard that familiar enthusiastic tone exclaim “Brittany!”  My smile got even bigger and I said “Hey Brian!”  He said he got my message last night after work at around 1am so he didn’t want to wake me up and call me back then.  He asked me what I had been up to tonight, and I told him I’d gotten back from my psychology class about an hour ago.  I told him that the class was going well and about the two friends I’d made, Patricia and Rose.  I even told him the whole story of how I started conversations with them when it was dead silent.  I made the story humorous and he was laughing at my descriptions of how it was so quiet in the room that I felt conscious of my breathing.

He told me all about how his latest job was going. We also talked about Colorado and his life there.  Being in a different state away from all his friends has actually been a good growing experience for him.

I told him about my choice of community college, and he explained his college journey again to me, which I’d sort of forgotten.  Before he had been encouraging me to go straight to a 4 year school because of the experience, but now he was realizing that in a way he’d been a transfer student himself and he still had a lot of fun.  He said he understands better now and thinks I’m making a good decision.

We also talked about travelling and exploring the world, and we got excited thinking about it.  I told him how I really wanted to travel outside the US and experience a new culture, because I think there’s a lot to be learned from other cultures.

Before I knew it, it was midnight, and we had been talking for 2 hours.  I felt a swollen lump on the side of my throat and my arm was numb from holding the phone up to my ear for so long.  I enjoyed talking to him so much that I didn’t want to stop, but I finally said I had to get going, and that it was really nice talking to him.  He said it was good talking to me too, and we agreed that we should stay in better touch.  We said goodnight, and after I hung up I smiled and realized that I hadn’t even looked at that list I’d written out earlier.  🙂

A pic with Brian two summers ago.

Flippin’ Through Old Yearbooks

For some reason last week I’d been feeling a little distant from some of my friends, so I decided to look at my old yearbooks to cheer me up. I had some really nice messages in there that made me feel emotional. It was kind of sad realizing that a lot of the people who wrote to me I had grown more distant from, and I decided to send messages to a few of them to reconnect.

There are a couple of observations that I made about my yearbooks. In 6th grade, my book was pretty empty and the messages I did get were something along the lines of “Have a great summer”, which in my mind is the equivalent of, “I have no idea what to write to you so I’m just going to say something really generic.” 7th grade I had maybe 3 messages that wrote something personal and nice, while the others were general and very brief. 8th grade I had more messages than before, but still not a whole lot.

My first year of high school was a bigger shift in messages. I had a couple of really nice and lengthy messages, some even had been decorated and had little pictures attached in there. A lot more people wrote to me, and I didn’t get that “have a great summer” thing much anymore because I mostly just had friends sign it. Sophomore year I got more detailed and lengthy messages, and Junior year my yearbook had even more and was packed. Looking back at those yearbooks made me realize how I must have been changing over the years. It seemed like each new year I opened up more about myself, and had closer friendships. I’ve been closer with different people different years though, and it’s interesting looking at all the changes.

It was good reading through all those messages again, and even though it seems like I have a lot fewer friends than I did last year, I realize that the ones I’m spending my time with right now are the closest friendships I’ve had. So yes maybe I have fewer friends that I’m seeing regularly, but sometimes less is more. The others are still my friends, it’s just been harder staying close to them because some of them have moved, some have a new circle of friends, or we just haven’t been hanging out as much as we used to. I did reconnect with quite a few friends this month though, and I’m glad I’ve done that.

Walking and Talking with Annie

Last Saturday afternoon I hung out with my good friend, Annie.  We spent most of the day walking downtown and talking for hours.  I was opening up to her about one of my experiences from last year that I hadn’t really told anyone else about other than my friend who had been there with me during that time.  I was so fixed in telling my story that I didn’t even notice where I was walking.  I was surprised that I was able to talk about it so openly, when last year I couldn’t have brought myself to discuss it.

I’ve felt really close to her lately and have been daringly open with her about a lot of my opinions and various things.  She in turn has opened up to me about a lot of things that I didn’t know about.  We’re very different personality wise- she’s very extroverted and bubbly, while I’m introverted and reserved.  But we share a lot of the same views and get along wonderfully.

I’m really glad that we’ve gotten so much closer.  At one time we could be confiding in each other and revealing our deepest thoughts, and the next we could be laughing so hard that we can’t breathe.  She’s a really unique person, and I’m really lucky to have her as a friend.

Friday: Frisbee and Swing Dance

Last Friday was a pretty good day.  I went to play Ultimate Frisbee after school and had a lot of fun.  It’s mostly guys who play at the high school and they can get very competitive, but this time they passed to me and I enjoyed it much more.

I even joined in on this frisbee target game that I thought I would stink at and would embarrass myself in front of all the others, but it turns out that I was actually pretty good at it and nearly won!  I surprised myself and apparently the guys watching, who my friend told me were very impressed with me.  After frisbee we took a lot of fun pictures, and we laughed a lot.  🙂

After frisbee I went home and got ready to go out swing dancing.  My close friend Angela and her boyfriend picked me and my brother up, and we headed out an hour and a half for the dance.  It’s a long ways to go, but considering our town is too small to have swing dances, it’s better than not going at all.

Swing dance had been one of my main ideas on how I could talk to enough strangers last month, but it turned out that I didn’t get to go in January and had to find other ways to meet people.  I thought it would be easier to make small talk at swing dance, but that night I found that I felt really friendly in the beginning of the night, and later on more reclusive as I became more tired.

I did introduce myself to many people though and gave out a few compliments on cool-looking ties and an awesome handlebar mustache.  The guys were quite appreciative too, and when I told one guy that I liked his tie, he responded by saying, “Well I’m really glad I wore it then!” with a smile.

I got asked to dance quite a few times in a row in the beginning, and soon became aware that I had to stop dancing at some point and grab some water.  Some dances I sat out and watched.  Sometimes I simply just wanted to sit out because my legs were sore, and other times I felt shy and had a harder time finding someone to dance with.

One guy asked me quite a few times, and even when he didn’t ask me I could tell he was trying to out of the corner of my eye.  I asked one guy who I noticed hadn’t been dancing at all and had just been standing in the corner, smiling at the dancers.  He said it was his first time ever dancing, and we talked about swing dance and how fun it is.  He seemed pretty happy that I asked him, and he was sweet.

We went out to eat afterwards and that was fun too.  We had some interesting and unusual conversations.  We were hoping to see our usual waitress, but she wasn’t there so we met someone new.  She was pretty nice, and we all liked her.  I suggested that we should write a note to leave with her tip to try and brighten her day a little.  On a napkin I wrote, “Thanks for being such a wonderful waitress Jenna!  Tell Amy the swing crew came by!  Hope you have a good night!” And then Angela added illustrations of the food we ate in monster form, and we left it with the tips and headed for home.

It was a wonderful day, even though it hadn’t started that way at school and I didn’t feel better until frisbee. 🙂

Making the Call

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends, especially on the weekends.  I think the best thing I can do is just say yes to invites and arrange hang outs with friends.  Everything else seems to happen pretty naturally.  I also need to reconnect and catch up with those who I haven’t talked to in a while.

Earlier in the week I decided to call up a friend who I hadn’t talked to in a while to try and arrange to hang out this weekend.  Even though she’s my friend, I still felt a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I was concerned about calling out of the blue and wasn’t clear on my plans for the weekend and what I wanted to do.  I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do sometimes.

I called her up, and I ended up getting her answering machine after one ring.  All that anxiousness was for nothing, I thought.  I noticed she was online for Facebook, and I could have easily just messaged her there, but I decided to try calling again.  This time the phone rang longer and she answered, explaining that her phone had died and was recharging.  She had a pretty busy weekend, but we found a day where we could meet up.  I had said yes earlier to an event and she was going too, so we decided we’d see each other then.

Email or Facebook is a lot easier for me, but I think it’s better to call people at least every once in a while.  It can be nerve-racking for me, but it’s hardly ever gone as bad as I think it will.

Wednesday’s Heart to Heart

So far this week and weekend has been a really good one.  I’ve had some deep heart to hearts with close friends and a lot of honesty has been expressed.

Wednesday started off well. Before school started I walked to the senior locker area where some of the people I know gather in the mornings, like usual.   My close friends usually aren’t there in the mornings, but there are some people there who I’ve talked to before.  Often a circle of two gets formed, and as I walk over I often find it difficult to “get in” the circle.  I don’t know them as well so no one usually looks over at me or greets me until I tap someone on the shoulder and say hi.  But this time was different, a girl who I don’t normally talk to much, Alicia, waved to me right away when she saw me approaching, and I smiled and waved back.  I entered her and the other girls’ circle, even though I’ve hardly talked to anyone that she was with.  She complimented me and said I looked very pretty today, and cool with my sunglasses. I said thank you and smiled.  I talked with her and some of the other girls in the group until the first bell rang.

It was a good start to the day, and I appreciated the compliment and Alicia’s friendliness.  Sometimes I just wander around the school to waste time in the mornings because it’s hard to enter those group conversations with the people over there that I don’t know too well.

At lunch I had a heart to heart with one of my close friends.  We didn’t see any of our other friends at lunch, so we decided to wander off on our own to someplace where we hadn’t sat before, and ended up sitting on the bleachers at the side of the tennis courts.  She had told me the day before about how she’s been feeling excluded by some of our other friends, so I brought her a banana muffin from the batch I had made earlier in the week, and told her that bananas are supposed to boost happiness.  She smiled and hugged me, and said thank you.  She confided in me that she’d been feeling really depressed lately and had spent the last few days crying.   She’d been having some dark thoughts about herself, and I tried to convince her otherwise not to think those things.  I told her that I care about her a lot, and that I like how she’s usually always smiling and friendly to everyone.  She’s very caring and selfless.  She said she appreciated what I said and wishes she could talk to me more often because I always make her feel better about things.  (I’m currently one of those rare teenager in the world who doesn’t have a cell phone, but still, I borrow my mom’s a lot and she can always call me there.)  She said she’s always tries to please people and be the nice one, but she feels like she’s been taken advantage of and people don’t really care about her.  I told her I used to do a similar thing in middle school, and in 6th grade I was really taken advantage of.  I told her all about the bullying and teasing, though I thought I had told her before.  But she didn’t seem to know about it.  So I told her about how I had always tried to please people and let people walk all over me.  In return I was picked on every day for being too quiet/shy, and for not knowing the popular rap and r&b songs on the radio, and for not wanting to wear pink skirts like them, for not being “cool” enough, etc etc.  I didn’t go into everything that happened, but talked about some of it.

I mentioned some people that I thought would be great to spend more time with and get to know better.  She agreed and said she wanted to get to know those people better too.  Before I knew it the lunch bell rang and I realized I still had half of my lunch to eat.  I decided I would sneak some food in class later, and we walked slowly to our next classes, hugged, and parted. She was in my thoughts the rest of the day though, and I hoped she’d be all right.

Brainstorming for February

So it’s February now.  I’m going to continue going out of my way to talk to strangers because I’ve learned that most people are happy to talk with me.  It feels awkward making the initial conversation starter, but that’s really the hardest part and once that’s over with it’s a pretty enjoyable experience.

As I’ve said before, my focus is on friendships and relationships for this month.  (My project doesn’t really have to be divided up into months, but for now it’s helpful for keeping me on track so I can address everything I want to work on within the year. )

So first off, I brainstormed some ways shyness can affect friendships.

-sometimes you feel on the outside of a group of friends, and don’t feel as close to the others as some of your other friends are because you spend less time with them or talk to them less

-may end up turning down invitations to parties or social gatherings because you don’t think you’ll fit in with the group and have a good time, may feel pressured to participate in party games or dancing and singing

-difficulty with confrontations: suppress feelings and pretend like everything’s ok and wasn’t something worth bringing up even though it had been bothering you

-sometimes feel like you can’t think of anything to say, listen too much and don’t add something to the conversation

-avoid talking about topics that are too sensitive for you and avoid revealing much about yourself, don’t always let others really get to know you

-fear of embarrassment, criticism, looking foolish, or making a mistake can keep you from taking any risks

-can keep you from calling up a friend and arranging to hang out

-can cause you to lose touch with friends, either ones you don’t see much anymore or ones that have moved

-sometimes difficult to stand up for yourself and your values, and even to stand up for others because you don’t like conflict

Those are the things that I think of when it comes to how my shyness could be affecting my friendships.  So looking at that list, I could spend more time with friends, accept invitations to parties/social invitations, confront friends if something is bothering me, add more to group conversations, reveal more about myself to friends, take some risks and worry less about embarrassment or criticism, call up friends to arrange getting together, reconnect with friends who I’ve lost touch with or haven’t talked to as much as I used to, and stand up for myself and others and be open to facing any conflict that may come out of that.

I think all those actions will be beneficial and important to take.  In the months before I decided to pursue this project, I started getting really obsessed with reading, especially with books on careers.  As a high school senior, I’ve felt a lot of pressure on me to answer the question “What do you want to do?” and I’ve been trying to figure that out.  I was getting so into it (and so stressed out about it) that a lot of my weekends were spent in my room, reading and writing all day, going through exercises from the career books.  I felt like it was important, but at the same time I felt like I should be spending some time out with friends too.  But I didn’t feel like just calling people up and seeing if they wanted to hang out.  It was hard for me to break away from my reading and call up a friend, so often I didn’t.  I felt shy about calling even.  It was relaxing having no plans, nothing set for the next day.  But then when people asked me what I did that weekend, I didn’t have much to say.  I felt like I should have done more with my time.  It’s easy for me to spend a weekend at home reading or studying.  When I don’t have any plans, there are no pressures and no worries.  I need some time to myself to do homework and read/write, but I need to spend some time with friends too.

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