The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “change”

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!

The Secret Note

A lot has happened since the first week of school, and it would take several posts to go over it all, so I’ll give an overview.

Basically, college has been great.  Even though it’s community college, I’ve managed to make several friends and I’m meeting some interesting people (interesting in a good way!).  I’ve hung out with a few of them outside of class after initiating we do so through a text or at school and what not, and that’s brought me closer to them.  Yuli, K, and Johanna I’ve all gotten to hang out with outside of school and I like them a lot.  I’m making several friendships in each of my classes and have made an effort to talk to as many people around me as I can.  Some of those people I may not become close friends with, but it’s good to have a friendly classroom relationship with them I think.  Facebook has been of course helpful for getting to know some of them better.

I’ve found that the few times I’ve been on my own for lunch, I can’t help but want to talk to the people around me.  It’s like I’m in “friend mode” all the time now and I can’t turn it off.  Even when it’s a quiet area like a study hall, I secretly hope someone will not be too invested in their homework and will try to talk to me.  It’s kind of funny.

The first time I sat on my own at a table I witnessed a guy come out of the cafeteria with a lunch he just bought and ask to sit down at a table where a girl was sitting doing her homework.  She smiled and said of course.  He sat there quietly, munching on his lunch.  She kept studying. At the end, when he finished his lunch and packed up to leave, he slipped a piece of paper over to her, and walked away.  I couldn’t help but watch her open it. I saw her expression change from a neutral look to a big smile and she laughed out loud and shook her head and just kept smiling, and reached for her phone to text her friend.

What did the note say?  Did he compliment her?  Did he leave his number?  Did he thank her for allowing him to sit with her or wish her luck with her test?  I wondered what the note said and smiled, feeling very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to see that.  The note seemed to totally make her day and it was so cute to witness.  I got the feeling that it was just a friendly message meant to brighten her day, and I just thought that was really cool.  I wouldn’t have minded if he had sat next to me!

Then a girl comes and asks if she can sit next to me, and excited I say “Please do!” She sits next to me, and I keep fumbling through my notes for a little while, and she looks at her phone.  Inspired by the incident I just witnessed, I start talking to her, asking her about the pizza that she got to start.  She was friendly and it was easy to keep talking to her, and we talked about college related things a while.  Afterward she said it was really nice talking to me, and I resisted the urge to ask to swap facebooks, and simply said it was nice talking to her too.

That is just one story of many, but I do need to get on to a new goal soon so I won’t be able to post a lot of the other ones.  I am planning to write a *book* though and will be able to include a lot more in there!   The new year is approaching quickly, and 2011 is coming to a close.  It went by so fast!

Deja vu- The first day all over again

Usually, there is only one first day of school.

For me, however, there were two.

I am taking classes at two different community colleges. I’m doing this so I can get all the classes I want my first semester instead of only having a few options as a new student.

My first day at one of my colleges was great, but how was the first day at my other college going to go?  The butterflies returned at the prospect of having to go through the first day of school all over again.

Soon enough, the time came and I set foot in my first class of my first day at this college, my Career and Life Planning. I was looking forward to it because I think the subject of career choice is fascinating and I’m hoping this class will help me figure out what I want to do. I’ve already done so much research on my own, but I hope I’ll get something helpful out of this class.

I talked to the girl sitting next to me right away, and she was really friendly. In class, an activity started where we had to go around the room and find someone who fits one category on a space, like someone who loves music, or who had a leadership position in school, or who volunteers. It seemed a little silly to me at the time but I know the teacher was just trying to get us all acquainted with each other. I briefly met a majority of my classmates, and even won a candy bar for being one of the first people to turn in my sheet with all the squares filled out with signatures from each person in the class.  Woot!

Next, I headed for my Intro to Sociology class. When I entered through the doors, I saw that every seat in the class was taken. Every seat. I had no choice but to sit on the floor, so I did. Soon others came in and had to stand or find somewhere to sit on the ground as well. The room was packed with people hoping to add her class. The teacher is supposedly one of the best Sociology teachers this college has ever had, and she’s won teacher of the year awards. I was excited at the prospect of getting to learn from her, and was hoping I’d be able to add.

We all waited a little while, but there was no sign of her. But then, the door crashed open and a tall white haired woman charged forcefully down the aisle to the front of the room, yelling for everyone to put away their cell phones, and ranting that if she ever saw one out again she’d kick the person out of the class. Several people looked offended and astounded, or slightly spooked, and I could tell that some people would drop. She continued to say that she would not tolerate any talking once class begun, and anyone who talked while she was talking would be asked to leave. There are no excuses in her class, nothing can be late, and there are no make ups. Her tests consist only of essay questions, because she doesn’t believe in multiple choice tests. There would only be three tests all year, and 3 research papers.

I had read that she tries to scare people away the first day and comes off as really strict and tough, but that she is actually one of the most caring teachers on campus. Her attempt to scare us didn’t work on me, and I happily added my name to the add list when she said anyone who showed up today and wanted to learn she would teach.  I had emailed her before asking to add, and she had first sent back an automatic message that said she had over 100 people requesting to add and that she wasn’t giving out add codes before class.  I wrote back saying that was a ton of people and clearly shows what a sought out teacher she is, and that I was hoping to add but I’d probably have to try again another semester.  I said I was hoping to take her class because I’d heard she was an excellent teacher and I wanted to learn what Sociology was about.  To my surprise, she wrote back saying it was her last semester, and she said to come to the first class and introduce myself and she was sure that I had a pretty good chance of getting in.

I was a little nervous to approach her after the big scary image she had presented of herself, but felt like since I had said I would introduce myself, that I should. After adding my name to the add list, I said, “Hi my name is Brittany, I emailed you over the summer about adding your class, and I said I would introduce myself, so I wanted to be sure and do that.” I held my hand out and we shook hands and she smiled and touched my arm and said she was really glad I made it to her class and was going to add. She asked if I’d gotten the books already and I said that I had, and I was looking forward to her class. It was a nice friendly exchange and probably made a good first impression on her.

Next I had speech class. I started talking to the lady next to me, Heather. On the first day we were given an assignment to interview the person next to us in class, so we ended up interviewing each other and another woman joined our group too since there was an odd number. Heather’s a mom of three teenagers and I learned some miscellaneous facts about her. The following class we would have to introduce our partner to the class, so I tried to find out some things that I thought would be interesting to share.

All in all the first day of this college went well too, though my previous first day was even better in my opinion. It was a good day though and I was glad to be done with both of my first days!

I Wore a Dress to School!

On Friday I finally decided to wear a dress, and it was the first time I had worn a dress to school since…well, preschool I guess, back when my mom got to dress me.  (After that in elementary school I rocked leggings until I was 7!)  Supposedly it was going to start raining again on Sunday so I figured Friday would be my last chance to really dress up for a little while, and wanted to end on a high note.  (though I’m still going to keep dressing nice)  I had looked at this dress in the beginning of April and told myself by the end of the month I would have the confidence to wear it to school, and I finally did wear it.  I worked up to it by wearing fancier tops and skirts first.  I know for some people wearing a dress to school is no big deal and is an easy decision, but considering that I used to dress as simply as I could so I wouldn’t get any attention for my clothes, it’s a good improvement for me.  I didn’t want to wear shirts with words on them either because I didn’t want people trying to read my shirt, especially if it said something embarrassing like “Kiss Me I’m Irish” (I’m not even Irish!) or something about cute boys that my mom would pick up and try to get me to wear.  I still think that’s embarrassing though, haha!

But back to the dress.  I decided the night before to wear it since the weather was getting really hot.  That morning though, it turned out to be really windy and a little cold even.  Why the weather always tries to make my plans more difficult I don’t know, but I was still determined to wear that dress.  My mom tried to talk me out of it though and thought I should change into something else, but this time I stood my ground on this and told her this was going to be one of my last chances to do this.  Her doubts hurt my confidence a little bit, but I walked out the door to the car, no turning back.

I was a little cold, and I did feel a little self-conscious, but I put my sunglasses on and walked through the halls telling myself that I looked nice and to remember to focus on what other people were wearing.  I did have to keep my hands down just to make sure the wind didn’t try to pull any fast ones on me though.  It certainly would have been easier and less nerve-racking if there was less wind and the dress was a little longer.

While walking to first period one of my girl friends said I looked nice today and one of my guy friends resonated with a “You do look really pretty!”  Another friend turned around and saw me and exclaimed “Oh my gosh you look so pretty!”  So that was a nice reassurance to hear in the morning, and I told them they all looked nice too.

On my way to fourth period, I had to pass through a crowd of people in the quad.  Maybe it was just my imagination, but it seemed like one of the good-looking popular guys I passed looked at me longer than someone normally would when you’re passing them, like with interest or something.  And it seemed like one of the popular pretty girls was giving me a glaring look.  It was kind of funny, and not something I’m used to.

When I saw my friend Annie at lunch, she did a double take when she saw me!  She exclaimed that I looked really cute, and then said these past few weeks I’ve been dressing really cute.  I thanked her for noticing and told her I was trying to dress more confidently.  She asked where I was getting all these clothes and I told her that I’d had them for a while but never wore them to school or anything, the only time I’d worn some of this stuff was at swing dancing.  She said she wanted to start getting some cuter clothes too since she feels like she’s been wearing the same thing for a while now.

Although I did feel self-conscious whenever I was walking, it was sort of fun standing out and looking pretty at school.  I didn’t wear any make-up and most of the time I don’t bother to wear any anyways, but I still felt pretty in my dress.  It was a bit of a pain because I had to be so careful with it, but it was worth it.

On the left: Not a dress, but one of the many notorious outfits my mom put me in.  And on the right:  What I wore yesterday, taken afterschool when it was finally nicer and less windy!

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.

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.

First Conversation with a Stranger!

Today was a pretty busy and fun day.  I went on a private tour of Pixar Studios with my parents, thanks to my dad’s friend’s neighbor, who got us in and showed us around.  It seemed like a really fun place to work, and I can see why so many people dream about working there.  It was interesting hearing about what happens each day and seeing all the storyboards and clay figures that were the starting points of some of their movies like Toy Story 3.  I got to ask him some questions and learn more about what it takes to work at Pixar and what it’s like.  I’ve always loved art classes, and it seems like it’d be fun to work there, but I’m not sure if animation or art is something I want to go into as a career.  There’s always been two sides to me: the artsy, creative side and the altruistic, want to help people side.   I’m not sure which side I’m going to go into, but lately I’ve been leaning more towards the helping people side.  I’ve been considering Occupational Therapy and a few other things.  It’s hard to make a decision at 17 what you want to do with your life though, and since I have a variety of interests it’s hard for me to just pick one thing and be certain of that decision.

After Pixar, we went to Ikea, then Rite Aid, and then Sam’s.  And guess what?  Today I had my first conversation with a stranger!  🙂  As I was checking out of Sam’s with my family, I handed the elderly guy(named Tom) our Sam’s card, and he scanned it, and started scanning our other items.  I had noticed earlier that Sam’s didn’t seem too busy today, so I finally asked, “Has today been a pretty quiet day?” Tom laughed and said it hadn’t been, and yesterday and today had actually been pretty crazy.  I told him I was surprised because the store didn’t seem too busy,  but I guess the check out lines must be busier.  And he said yeah, it’s been pretty busy.  My dad then made a comment that he remembered this guy always gave the best food samples when he used to work in that area, and the man laughed and said that his boss complained that he was giving out too much food in his samples, and that he was just supposed to give out a tiny bit and not a meal.  I asked him when they gave out samples, and he said they only do it 4 times a week now, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.  He then went on to say that he was glad he was done with the samples though because he was actually getting paid better working at the check-out.  I told him that the customers were probably sad to see him go, since he always gave out good samples.  He laughed and then said he didn’t know about that, and handed us our items and we smiled and said have a nice day.

It was a good feeling afterward, and I felt like giving someone a high five or something, haha.  At first I was hesitant to talk to him because I wasn’t sure how good his hearing would be and if I would have to shout to talk to him, but it turns out that he had pretty good hearing and understood me just fine.  I was glad that we got him laughing and smiling, and it made me smile too.  So now at least I’ve gotten the first conversation out of the way, which is good because the first one is always the hardest I imagine.  I’m going to start keeping a tally to keep track.  🙂

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