The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “being outgoing”

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!

Source: http://www.amightygirl.com/courage-roar-wall-quote

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”.

Making Friends In Class Again

Last semester, I didn’t make a whole lot of new friends.  I did, however, become closer friends to the people I had met before in this area, thanks to the fact that I now live a matter of minutes away from them versus an hour and a half.  I got to know one dance friend whom I’d always thought was really nice much better, and we spend a lot more time hanging out now.  I also started carpooling with another dance friend, and we shared a lot about ourselves during our car rides and became much closer than I expected.  I hope we remain good friends even though we can’t carpool this semester.  I also became very close to the person I dated, and we’ve remained close since.  I did manage to make one friend in my Accounting class as well, which was really nice because he was very helpful throughout the school year and made the class much more enjoyable.

This semester I would like to do a better job of making friends through my classes though.  My mom suggested I try and have at least a 3 minute conversation with one new person per day, but I think that would be too much for me.  I do have the mindset that I will try to talk to and get to know at least two people every time I’m at an event or social setting though.  And I do want to try and make at least one, preferably two, friends in each of my classes.  I’ve noticed that I enjoy a class much more when I have a friendly face to talk to each class period.  It’s hard to make the initial “move” to talk to someone new, but almost every time I’ve done it, I’ve been glad I did and the other person is appreciative and receptive.  I just need to remind myself of this when the nerves overwhelm me and keep me from getting someone’s attention to introduce myself.  I’ve been through this many times before though, so I know I am capable and know it just requires saying something, no matter if it’s a question about the homework, the textbook, or the class in general.  As the picture says, I will put myself out there this school semester!

Tennis with Sarah and David

It’s been a few days since I’ve written, mainly because my days have been sort of uneventful.  But today was fun, I went to meet my friend Sarah and her boyfriend David, who I’d never met before.  I thought it might be a little awkward with someone I don’t know, especially since they’re a couple, but it actually wasn’t awkward at all.  David was really nice and easy to get along with.  We were planning to play tennis in my town, but all the courts were full, so I went with them in their car to the courts by them.  He’s a really good tennis player, and Sarah’s gotten pretty good too.  We played for an hour or so and then headed back because I had to pick up my brother from the library.  Then I introduced my brother to them and we all went out for pizza and got a better chance to talk.  We talked about Star Wars a lot, mainly because I knew that was something Sean could talk about and I knew David liked Star Wars a lot too.  I also asked David about his traveling experiences, and he had some pretty interesting stories.  I shared some of the stories my brother Andrew had told me when he had gone to other countries too.  It was a fun day, and I hope we can all hang out again sometime.

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