The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “anxiety”

Shyness: From Weakness to Strength, and Fears to Excitement

Hello Readers, today I’m sharing a guest post from a lovely 18 year old reader. She resonated with my posts and reached out to share her story with me. Enjoy and feel free to write to her!


Shyness: From Weakness to Strength, and Fears to Excitement

Shyness is something that I know really well. I have lived with it all of my life. I used to think that it was the worst thing about me, but now, I can see that it’s not so bad after all. I can live with it and I don’t have to let it take over my life. Most of the time now, I can talk to people without feeling shy, or scared. I can give oral presentations in class without freaking myself out. I can ask people for help if I need it. Not everything is easy- I still sometimes hesitate a lot before doing something because I feel shy- but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.

It used to be something that affected my life in the most negative way possible. I wasn’t just shy actually, it was more than that. I also had an extreme form of social anxiety called selective mutism. It made me unable to talk in any setting in which I felt uncomfortable. This means that I wasn’t even able to speak in class, chat with my friends, order my own food, etc.

This haunted me until 5th grade, when I finally decided to speak up after I changed schools. But still then, I was labelled as “shy and quiet,”- and I hated it. I didn’t have a lot of friends, only spoke in class if I really had to, kept everything to myself, avoided family gatherings or public events, hated talking on the phone, and panicked so badly at the thought of oral presentations in class.

The turning point came in 10th grade, and that is when I finally decided to change. I joined a volunteering club at school with a friend and forced myself to participate in activities with kids, elderlies, and homeless people. That is when I first realized, “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all. I can interact with people!” I especially enjoyed and felt comfortable with kids. I had such a great experience that that summer, I applied to a volunteering position at a summer camp outside of school. There, I unexpectedly learned not only to interact with kids, but also with the staff and volunteers who also worked there. I had such a good experience that in 11th grade, I decided to continue with the school volunteering club even though my friend wasn’t doing it anymore. I also tried even more activities.

That year was my last year of high school. I was really determined to overcome my shyness. I started feeling okay with doing class presentations. I started talking to more classmates and made more friends as well. I began to talk and ask questions to my teachers when I was unsure of things. Before I left the school, I wanted to show everyone that I wasn’t “just the shy girl” and that I was more than that. I thought that the perfect way of doing this was to perform my best at my last oral presentation and impress everyone. I worked my ass off, but unfortunately, it did not turn out like I expected. My partner let me down, and I was really upset at it. But something good came out of it.

After crying about it for a few hours, I gathered up courage and went to speak with my teacher Ms. S. As it turned out, not only was I allowed to make up for it, but Ms. S was also the first person other than my parents to really notice my shyness, tell me her own experiences, and give me advice on it. She told me that she knows how I feel and that she knows it’s hard to put myself out there, but that if I don’t do it now, it’s going to be even harder later.

And I took her word for it. When I came to Cegep (college), I tried even harder to overcome my shyness. At first, I simply worked at feeling comfortable speaking in English and making new friends. Then when I was a bit more adapted to the school, I started talking to teachers. After that, I also started getting more involved in clubs and activities. Currently, I’m working at talking with more people and just being more open in general. I even voluntarily participated in a Science Fair, became vice-president of two clubs, and joined the public speaking club.

Along the way, I also met a teacher, Ms. R. She became my mentor, helped and supported me, and convinced me that I could go beyond my zone of comfort by doing all these new activities. She even shared her own shyness story with me, and this really surprised me as I never would have ever suspected that she felt shy too sometimes. Once again, like Ms. S, she told me that the only way to “overcome” this was to put yourself out there. And I quote the word “overcome” because it’s not really about overcoming shyness. It’s about learning to control it and deal with it, and not let it take over your life. Whatever you do, you might still feel shy, but you’ll still do it despite the fact that you feel shy. You want it more than you are afraid of it. And once you’ve succeeded at whatever you want to do, you’ll feel so great about it, and it’s simply going to motivate you to do more and strive for the better. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what made me realize that I can be so much more than just “shy and quiet”.

2015 Has Been an Awesome Year my surprise, I have accomplished and brought back almost everything I wanted to in my vision board so far. I firmly believe a key part of this success was intention setting- I wanted it to be an awesome year, so I made a specific plan for how I wanted to make it happen.

This year I’ve really cultivated an active lifestyle. I’ve gotten back into dancing regularly, have been playing tennis again with a consistent partner, and I’ve started playing a new sport- ultimate Frisbee. I’ve made an effort to start cooking more of my meals. I have looked out for new experiences, such as going to a mosque to observe a prayer, going to a goth club, and exploring outdoor cliffs barefoot. I’ve developed more of a positive outlook, have reduced my stress, and have increased my compassion for others. Now that I’m in a healthy and stable place, I have been better able to be a rock for others who have not been as fortunate. I’ve learned how to let go of things that weren’t meant for me, even though it is still not easy.

Something that has really helped me get back on my feet is that I’ve started putting myself out of my comfort zone again. I’ve gotten reacquainted with that feeling of discomfort that I get when I first take on something new. Some of the things I’ve been doing have included driving more places and on my own. Even though I still have fears with driving, particularly at night, I have gotten braver with this and have managed to keep calm. Another thing I’ve done is continue to show up to ultimate Frisbee even though I felt like I was one of the worst players there at first; now through consistent practice, I’m a valued player. I also have gone out of my way to participate in class again, and I developed meaningful relationships with two of my professors by going to their office hours. Through adding on a Counseling and Social Change minor as well, I’ve realized that I want to focus my efforts on becoming a counseling psychologist.

I have also prioritized working on and maintaining my mental health this year. I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from doing yoga- it has helped me sleep better, have better posture, and feel much calmer and composed. Recently I’m trying meditation as well to see if I can add in that practice. I feel much more emotionally stable, happier, calmer, and healthier now.

I think having a regular exercise schedule, and making it fun through activities like dance, ultimate Frisbee, and tennis, has really made me a happier person. Occasionally, I do fall back into old patterns and anxiety does creep in, but overall I’ve been doing really well. From here, I would like to focus on babysitting my nephew every two weeks (or at least more often), learning how to be more comfortable on a bike, improving my confidence and voice level, and continuing to work on managing my emotions. I am thinking of making another vision board for the rest of the year for what I would like to add in to my progress. I hope you all have been taking care of yourselves, and that your year has been a good one so far!

Aspirations for 2015

Before I share what I am striving for in 2015, I’d like to recap on some of the main positives from 2014 despite all the challenges it presented to me.

Positives of 2014:

  • Pushed myself academically taking some heavy course loads and learned a lot that broadened my perspective
  • Started dying my hair and experimenting with colors for the first time
  • Became more independent living far from home and made close, intimate connections
  • Became a much more open-minded, accepting, and educated person
  • Became genuinely kinder and more giving

For 2015, one of my main aspirations is to take back control of my anxiety. I would like to change my thoughts from being an instinctively pessimistic thinker to an optimistic thinker. I won’t lose my awareness of reality, but I would like to try and combat my negative personal thoughts more and try to work on them so they help me more than hurt me. I’ve heard if you can change your thoughts, you can change your world. So that is one of my main goals this year. Here is a picture of what I am planning for 2015. Each bubble will have to be taken on one at a time. I hope you all are doing well and that if 2014 wasn’t one of your best years either, that we can make 2015 a good one!


The Challenging Year of 2014

We all have our lowest points. Mine was Spring 2014. It definitely wasn’t all bad, but the hard times were indeed hard. I learned a lot and have been changed by it, but it did come at some big costs.

Before it started, I had had an incredibly rough first month at my new college away from home. I had a horrible roommate situation, and each day and night was so chaotic, noisy, and uncomfortable that I lost a lot of sleep, weight, and sanity. It was nearly impossible to do well in school and I was pretty distressed. And for the first time, I experienced the feeling of not having a home. I spent many nights wandering out on my own as late as possible in avoidance of the dreaded circumstances I might return to at my apartment. After a month of fighting with housing, I finally was able to move, and was very relieved.

By January, I had adjusted to my new school fairly well and had made some good friends. For this next semester, I was excited to challenge myself again by helping start up a brand new organization in addition to going to school full-time. Taking on this addition turned out to be a lot more stressful than I anticipated, however. The organization was pretty disorganized and I found this to be very stressful because I wanted to do a really good job but didn’t know what they wanted me to do. In addition, I was really worried about the programs I was expected to come up with and run. I kept imagining the worst occurring and the idea of presenting to a large group something I didn’t feel ready to present made me feel physically sick. I began experiencing intense and unrelenting anxiety throughout the semester. I couldn’t stop the thoughts and negative images from spinning about work and I felt like a prisoner to my own mind. Anxiety was rearing an uglier, more physical head than it ever had for me in the past. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed for panicking so much about the public speaking and for not being able to control my anxiety.

When it got to the point where I knew it was seriously affecting my health, I went to a school doctor and counselor. I was given some medication to try, but I started experiencing bizarre and uncomfortable effects. Then one day in class, I suddenly felt like I was about to black out. The edges faded black and I stumbled to the front to turn in my test before collapsing onto a bench outside. I wasn’t able to move for fear of passing out and was in such a distraught state. I ended up missing both of my midterms. My friend Matt came to my rescue when I called him and he helped me walk to my classes so I could explain to my teachers what happened. Even though I was thankfully able to make up my tests, it was a very scary experience and something that had never happened to me.

The rest of the semester was spent going back and forth between doctor’s appointments until it was figured out what was going on with me. My friend Elin took me so many times without hesitation and stayed by my bedside when I had to get an IV. I was extremely grateful and appreciative for her help. Ever since the near syncope, I had experienced constant pain in my head and had difficulty walking since I was so dizzy. I was told that I was experiencing vertigo and eventually it was determined that I had developed migraines with aura. I did my best to take it easier the rest of the semester, and was relieved when the job ended and I got to go home for summer break. Somehow I managed to keep my grades up even with all this going on. I did end up running my programs still, and they went great, and ended up being much more low-key than I had anticipated them being. Since then I’ve had some time to recuperate and I am feeling better.


  • Sometimes you do have to remove yourself from a stressful situation if it proves to be too much
  • Anxiety and Stress is serious business and can really hurt your health
  • My anxiety got out of hand, and I need to build better mental barriers and work on controlling it again
  • You can see a beautiful side of people when you are at your lowest point

I’ve Been Missing In Action but I’ve been Growing!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and have been on WordPress, as you all have noticed I’m sure.  In my last post I discussed how I was wrapping up my first year of community college.  Well, it’s November now and I am in my second year of community college and have been living away from home in an apartment with friends as of a few months.  In this short period of time I have grown a lot and have become more independent, and have faced some of my fears and learned that they weren’t as bad as I thought they would be.  For one, I’ve been driving a lot more on my own than I used to.  Granted, it’s been a lot easier because I have a GPS I can use now, but I’m a lot less hesitant to go out somewhere I’ve never been before.  I’ve gotten lost a few times, but I’ve managed to turn myself around and find my way even when the GPS loses reception.  I’m proud of myself for that, and I do feel a lot more independent and capable.  Sometimes I really enjoy driving even, especially when the songs are good on the radio.

Living in another city for the first time has been a learning experience as well.  I only moved about an hour and a half away from home, but considering I’ve always lived in the same small town for the past 19 years of my life, it’s been a significant experience for me.  Thanks to swing dancing, I already knew a lot of people here, but I’ve also made some new friends and overall I’ve been very happy.

I also entered my first full-on relationship several months ago, which is something I didn’t think I would be ready to do because I had had some bad experiences with dating in the past that had made me hesitant to get involved.  Even though it is over now, I had a great experience and learned a lot from getting to know someone on that deeper level.  The experience showed me that dating could be fun and that your friendship with the person can still be maintained afterward if you ended on good terms.  Dating can certainly still be a little scary, but I definitely have a better perspective on it than I did before. On reflection, I think it’s amazing how much our initial experiences can shape our views, and I’m glad that my perspective has finally shifted in this area.

Again, sorry for not keeping this blog up-to-date these past few months, but I hope you all have been doing well and have experienced some personal growth over this time too!   If you’ve learned anything new or feel like you’ve improved in one area of your life, please tell me about it in the comments or in an email as I’d love to hear about it.  Enjoy your week!

First Class Blogger Award

I recently got an email that I was selected to receive the First Class Blogger Award!

The description was as follows: Your blog was chosen by a committee of three bloggers who feel The Shyness Project exemplifies what a great blog can be. It is our belief that first class blogs are more about the effort and time the owner puts into their blog and less about its page rank or number of visitors it gets. 

Thank you!  To see the other first class blogs selected, go to this link.

Several bloggers have given me miscellaneous blogging awards as well, such as the Versatile Blogger Award, Lovely Blog Award, Candle Lighter Award, and so forth.  Thank you!  I really do appreciate it.  Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog and think of me for those awards.

Leaving Voicemails After Hours

After I had called Kaiser and had dealt with all that confusion, it was after 5pm.  I knew most places would be closed by now, but I still had 3 more places I wanted to call while I had momentum.  I knew I would be reaching voicemails at this point, but that actually made it a lot easier for me to call.

So I called a physical therapy clinic and left a message, asking if there were any Occupational Therapists there that I could interview.  I left a similar message as I had just left for the head of the department at Kaiser so it was much easier.

Then I called another physical therapy clinic, and left a message there too.  I wanted to see what places had Occupational Therapists since I knew they might only have Physical Therapists.

Then I called a psychology clinic and left a message for a psychologist who actually specializes in anxiety disorders.   I thought he would be an interesting guy to talk to since I have an interest in that.

Leaving the messages after the last confusing call was a nice break and a good way to ease into talking with more people about arranging the interviews.  I was nervous for the return calls that I expected would be coming the next day though.

First Time Calling for an Informational Interview

I had planned on making my first call right away, but found that every time I thought about doing it I was filled with a lot of dread. I just didn’t want to think about it. So I put it off a day.

The next day, I prepared myself to make some calls. I used the internet to research various places I could call to ask for informational interviews and wrote down the numbers.

When I was ready with the first number (Kaiser hospital) and all I had to do was press send, I felt my heart pounding. I couldn’t bring myself to just push the button though, and the longer I waited, the worse it got. Eventually I put down the phone and went to the computer. I googled “phone phobia” and came across a variety of postings by people who have phone phobia. Reading other people’s fears helped me, and made me realize how much harder a lot of others have it even. Some can never bring themselves to do it, or wait weeks.

After reading others experiences, I felt comforted. I picked up the phone again and held my thumb over the send button. I still hesitated. But then as I was shifting on the couch, I accidentally pushed send!  The phone was ringing!  By then I had no choice but to let the phone keep ringing and prepare to talk with someone. I didn’t mean to push the button like that, but it got the job done!

I wasn’t taken to a person though, and instead had to punch in all these different numbers to get where I wanted to get to. Then all of a sudden the phone was ringing again.  A lady answered, and I said my spiel. To my dismay, soon after I had finished talking and she had begun to talk, the call somehow got lost. I had to call again!

So I called again, punched all the different buttons again, and got a hold of the lady again, saying I had just called and the call got lost. I repeated what I had asked earlier.  She told me that she didn’t think there were any occupational therapists I could interview in this department. My heart sank.  I wasn’t quite sure what to say then and was confused on why there weren’t any occupational therapists I could talk to. She said she would connect me with the operator then and maybe he could help me.  So I agreed, and the phone rang again, then a man answered. I gave him my spiel again, then heard nothing on the other end, then found the phone ringing again! I didn’t know what was going on or where I was going to be taken to next. It seemed like the operator didn’t know how to help me either.

The phone was answered by a lady who I thought was the same lady I originally talked to and had connected me to the operator, and after verifying, I learned it was her again! I wasn’t getting anywhere and neither of them knew how to help me. It was kind of stressful and confusing. It wasn’t what I expected to happen. Eventually she said that she would transfer me to the head of the department where I could leave a voicemail. So the phone rang again, then I got the voicemail message. Luckily beforehand I had written out a few different scripts depending on whether I got a secretary, the person, or the voicemail. I looked at my voicemail one and left my message, repeating my name and number twice and being sure to go slow. I was told I wouldn’t hear back  until Monday.

That first call didn’t go as smoothly as I had thought, but I managed to get through it. The hardest part was just making the call in the first place, which funnily enough I finally was able to do because I accidentally pushed the send button. If this doesn’t happen though, in the past I have had my brother or mom push the button for me since sometimes I really just can’t bring myself to do it. I get nervous as I hear the phone ring, but at least I’m finally making the call.

Taking a Leap- Ziplining and Mechanical Bull Riding

My dad’s work was hosting a family fun day, and my family and I chose to attend.

Right away when we got there, I saw that a zipline structure had been set up near the entrance.  My heart raced at the prospect of going up that high and dangling in the air by a harness.  My mom hurried towards the structure though, eager to give it a shot, and she dragged us with her.

The line was short and I didn’t have but a minute or two to protest or change my mind.  My mom had me go first because she wanted to watch and learn before going on (thanks a lot mom).  So with a fluttering stomach I allowed the harness to be put on me, and waited at the base of the long staircase for my turn to walk up.  The gear felt tight and I began to feel a little light headed at the prospect of what I was about to rush into. I have mild discomfort with heights and I don’t like going fast, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about ziplining.  I hoped I wouldn’t faint.

When it was my turn to go, I trudged up the countless metallic silver stairs, getting further and further from the ground.  I kept going until I reached the top, trying to not look down and see how high I was.

Once I got to the top, the man operating the zipline attached a clip to my harness and instructed me to stand on the circular platform.  Then once I was standing on the platform, he removed the barrier blocking the edge of the platform.  The way was clear and I nervously looked down below.

“What do I do now?” I asked, uncertain.

“Anything you want,” he said. “You can walk off the edge, jump off, whatever.”

I gulped. I’m not one to just go off an edge into the air at a high elevation.

I exhaled.

Then I jumped.

I went sliding down and across the line, feeling like Batman going after the bad guys.  It wasn’t as gut wrenching as I thought it would be, and I could see it being more fun once you get used to it a little.  When I reached the end of the line, I stopped a little short, but there were several guys there who helped me down.  I ended up whacking my face with my hands and knocking my sunglasses off when I landed from the force, but other than that it went smoothly.  At least now I can say I’ve been on a zipline.

Then the rest of my family went too, and I think they had a good experience as well.

Later on we all rode a little mechanical bull that was set up too, which was something they had offered at my grad night but I had been reluctant to try it.  I thought it might be embarrassing if I couldn’t last long or got thrown off right away with everyone watching.  But my family and I all did it, and I lasted a good amount of time, and it was kind of fun actually.  Luckily there wasn’t too big of a crowd around and that helped.

My brother and I also rock climbed later on, and I’ve done that before so it wasn’t new to me, but still it makes me a little nervous being up that high and having to take leap of faiths now and then.  I fell once trying to get to a rock but luckily the slack was kept tight and I didn’t drop too far.  I eventually reached the top and rappelled back down.

All in all it was a day that took me out of my comfort zone, but it was great to be able to experience some new things.  I would do them again!

Try New Things

Although I have yet to write on my blog about this, I have been making an effort to try new things lately.

Even though I’d like to say I’m an adventurous person, the truth is that I’m not really.  At least, I don’t think I can say that I am right now.  I like routine and certainty more than I’d like to believe.  I often do a lot of the same things, because I know I’ll enjoy them and be comfortable with them.

And I especially like to eat a lot of the same foods.  In elementary and middle school I’m pretty sure I had the same lunch everyday- crackers & cheese mix and apples or grapes.  Even in high school I ate a lot of the same foods, with the addition of a sandwich for lunch, then apples or grapes, and then crackers or chips.

This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s perfectly ok to like routine and to like simplicity.  But for this experiment I want to see what it’s like to try some new things.  I want to switch things up a little.  I’m an open minded person when it comes to attitudes toward most things, so that should at least help me in my goals.

I have already tried several new things just by starting and running this project as well as in other areas of my life, but I think a time focused on this goal will be beneficial.  Fear of the unknown can be a contributing factor to shyness and anxiety, and by trying new things I think that could bring about a lesson or two on the unknown.  Some of these endeavors will put me outside of my comfort zone and may be things I don’t like, but it will be interesting to see what I find and come across.  There are a lot of opportunities out there to try some new things and switch up daily routines.

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