The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “confiding”

Revealing Insecurities

On Saturday, I talked to my friend Brian for the first time in several months.

At first it was light talk.  We talked about the summer and possibly meeting up, but it didn’t sound like it’s going to work out for this summer.  I told him about my previous weekend and how high school was ending and it was a very emotional time. We said some funny things to make each other laugh and got caught up on what had been going on lately.  I almost felt like the conversation was too light to merge into the deep end of conversations though.

After he told me that his parents were moving to Colorado and I asked if he was going to stay in Colorado for a long time, I asked him, sort of daringly and a little randomly, if he had any dreams or goals.  We had some honest conversations about that.

I asked if he had any insecurities, and brought up my biggest insecurity being my shyness and how I have been labeled that way a lot in the past.  I said how I felt like I was always being judged that way and that’s what people thought of me.  I started tearing up and had to blink rapidly so I could collect myself.

He told me that when he was younger, he was very shy and was labeled that way.  He thinks at my age, 18, I’m going through a lot of changes and it’s a difficult time.  He said he’s changed so much over the years now that he’s 26.  He’s so much more outgoing now and a completely different person than he was when he was 18.

He went on to say that he’s never once thought I was shy at all, even when he met me for the first time at my brother Sean’s graduation.

I thanked him and was really feeling emotional now and misty eyed.  My voice changed and was a little more wobbly.  I could still speak thankfully but I had to hold myself together to not start crying.

I gathered myself and told him that’s how I think people see me.  Over the years some fellow students have called me shy, teachers have made comments that make it sound like they think I am shy or quiet, and so forth.  He said they just don’t know you then if they think you’re shy.  I agreed and said I think they may just see me in a few situations and then infer from that that I’m a shy person.  He said shyness isn’t a bad thing, but he doesn’t think I am shy.

He said that I’m just a really good listener and that I really care about what people are saying.  If that’s mistaken for shyness, then that’s their problem.  He said we’re friends and I know you and I never thought you were shy.  He thinks it’s so rare and so good that I listen and care about others as much as I do.

I asked him if he had any insecurities and he told me some of his, which surprised me.  I told him that I never thought that about him either, and that I think he’s very handsome and cute, as well as muscular and tall.  He laughed and sounded flattered and thanked me.

We talked about our other insecurities too.  He was really surprised by one of mine and told me that he always thought I had a beautiful face and that he was surprised that high school guys weren’t swooping all over me.  He told me he always thought I was really pretty, and I thanked him.

He thanked me for sharing all that with him and I told him that I just wanted to have an open and honest conversation with him.  I wanted to try and talk about my shyness and get some feedback from him and see if he had any insecurities he’d want to talk about.  He always looks so confident and self-assured to me.  I told him I’m glad we talked about this because now we could see how silly our insecurities are and that they’re not true.  I said talking like this meant a lot to me, and he said he was really glad we talked about all this and put it out on the table.

I was still emotional from talking about my shyness, and it must have shown in my voice.  He said he had to buy a ticket now for the train and asked if I’d be ok if he did, and that if I wanted to keep talking we could and he would just buy one later. I told him that I was fine and that it was just hard to talk about because it’s not something I talk about usually.  I was just emotional, but was fine.  He asked two or three more times if I’d be ok, and I said yes and told him to buy his ticket already.  I told him to have fun on his city adventure.  So we said goodbye, after yet another two hour phone conversation.

I think this project is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I’m learning so much about myself and others, and am learning so much about shyness.  I’m really glad I made this my New Years Resolution and have been faithful to my goals.  I can’t believe I have kept it going for over 5 months.  I’m a person who often starts things and has all sorts of ideas, but then doesn’t finish them.  I think this is different though, and that I actually am going to be able to keep going and achieve all my goals.  It’s a powerful feeling knowing that if you really want something, you can make it happen if you persevere.

Opening up about Myself

Over the weekend I wrote a very open, honest, and confiding email in response to a close friend.  It took a while to write, and I was nervous about sending it and I had to reread it a lot.  I was nervous about what I was saying and how it would be received, and even nervous to check my email for the response. I wrote about how I missed her and wanted to talk to her more but that I don’t talk openly in most groups and that when it comes to honest and personal conversations I’m a one-on-one kind of talker.  She opened up about something and I told her what I admire about her- her confidence, enthusiasm, humor, and how she is so fun and can draw people into her and be so open with so many people.  It turned out to be a really long email even though I could have easily made that email less personal and shorter.  But I wanted to open up to her so she could see more of the real me, not just the surface me.

After a very good response (phew!) I wrote back again, and told her about some other things that she probably didn’t know about that seemed ok on the surface.  I told her about my conversation about how my biggest insecurity is my shyness and how tired I am of being called shy or quiet after having been told that my entire life.  And again, I got a really good response and I was really relieved and happy.  She even told me that she doesn’t think that I’m shy or quiet AT ALL!  I couldn’t believe it!  I think that’s the first time someone’s ever told me that they don’t think I’m shy or quiet, and she’s a very extroverted person too!  I’ve heard so many shy or quiet remarks about me over the years that I thought it was painfully obvious that I’m shy, and that no one could ever not think that about me or I’d ever be able to escape that label.  But hearing that she thought that was an incredible feeling.  I felt like a heavy armored suit had been lifted off me, and I felt a new sense of confidence.  It’s not that being shy or quiet is a bad thing, it’s just when you’ve been told that you’re something all this time it really starts to creep into your identity.  Maybe it isn’t as obvious as I thought, and isn’t as much of my identity as I think it is.  When I saw her in person we were both really happy to see each other and hugged each other tightly.

I never knew opening up could feel so good.  I’m putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable, and it’s actually turned out to be a really good thing and I feel so much closer to her now.  We were hanging out less and less as the year was ending and I was kind of worried we might lose touch.  But now I think being so honest with each other has brought us even closer than before, and I am so happy about that.

Confiding, Apologizing, and Being Silly

On Friday I went swing dancing to see my friend Billy, who I hadn’t seen in a year since he moved to Washington after college graduation.  It was really good to see him; he hadn’t changed at all.  I couldn’t believe it had already been a year since we had to say goodbye to him, time went by quickly. It probably seems that way because we haven’t gone up to swing dancing much this year whereas last year we were practically there every other week.  During the long car rides there and back, Angela, my brother Sean, and I talked about some funny things and some serious things.  I love how Angela and I can just be open and honest with our feelings and rant to each other when we need to and always be there for each other.  She’s told me that she truly considers me to be her sister, and that I know more about her than any person living.  She knows more about me than anyone else too and we have so many experiences together that we can talk about anything and understand each other.  She knows so much about me and she loves me for who I am.  I never feel like I’m not appreciated and feel total unconditional acceptance from her, which is an incredible thing. 

During swing dancing I finally talked to one of my friends after wanting to talk to him for a while.  We were dancing and he told me briefly about some of the bad things that were going on lately.  Things had been a little weird between us ever since last year when we went on a date and there was all this confusion from that.  I didn’t think one date meant we were dating while he did, and it got very complicated and stressful.  It was really hard when I finally had to bring up that I wanted to make it clear that I considered him just a friend, and he took it really hard and things were never the same.  While dancing and after when I pulled him aside I talked to him about how sorry I was for hurting him and that I never meant to lead him on if I did.  I told him how much I was stressed out about the whole situation and that’s why it took me so long to bring it up.  I didn’t know what he was thinking and I didn’t know how to bring it up.  He said that means a lot to him and he was sorry too.  He said he didn’t mean to make me feel as bad as he did. A lot of bad things were going on and he kind of took it as an excuse to dump everything on me and was sorry.  He told me in a platonic way that he loves me and I’m one of his few friends and always looks forward to me coming up. I told him I love him too and think he’s a really sweet guy and that I was really sorry.  We hugged a tight hug and from then on out he seemed much happier and was smiling a lot.  The air was cleared, and things felt like old times again.  I’m glad we finally talked.

On Saturday we all met up again except this time at Angela’s house. We had a lot of fun baking, playing card and board games, and taking funny pictures.  I went into Angela’s room with her and found all these clothes that I could put on to be funny, like a blue cape and a horned hat as well as a Star Trek toy gun she had gotten for her birthday.  I put all the stuff on while Angela laughed, and then I opened her door quietly and creeped around the corner to where our friends were standing.  I jumped into the doorway and started blasting the toy gun that made “pew pew” sounds while lighting up and then ducked back for cover.  It was funny and silly and they all came to find me and found some stuff to wear too and we took awesome pictures.  They are really a great group of friends and I always feel so comfortable with them.  It was a very good weekend, and it was great to have most of the gang reunited again.(minus Brian) They’re all about 7-8 years older than me at 25 and 26, but we get along so well that you’d think we were the same age.  They’re always forgetting that I’m still in high school and never really think about it.  I hardly ever think about the age difference either.  I don’t really feel or act my age, I guess growing up with two brothers 8 and 11 years older than me made me feel like I was the same age too and I act as mature as them.


Vulnerability and Energy

Lately I’ve been good about speaking up when I want to compliment someone.  Just a few hours ago I complimented a girl I sit next to but don’t talk to much who was wearing a pretty dress.   I answered a couple of the teacher’s questions in Lit class yesterday too when only about me and one other guy were answering his questions.  Everyone else was silent, and I think a lot of people hadn’t read, but luckily I’d finished the book a few weeks ago and knew enough to be able to respond to his questions.

This month I am going to let myself be more vulnerable with friends and share my stories, experiences, thoughts, and open up and confide more.  I’ll probably have to hang out with people one-on-one to be able to do that, as it’s much harder for me to do that in a group and I tend to have my deeper conversations when it’s just me and one other person.  In doing so I also hope to learn more about my friends and have a deeper connection with them.  Another goal will be to act more energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, and silly to keep things light and not too heavy with all the deep opening up I’ll be doing.  My psych textbook was saying that if you want to change your attitude you can change your behavior, since when you change one thing the other will feel a need to align itself with that change as well.  So I will try that out.

Those are two behavioral things I can work on.  Two cognitive things I can work on are to quit expecting negative results & the worst to occur, and also to imagine positive responses and closer friendships.  For a lot of my friends I only have the remainder of senior year to be with them and get closer before we all split ways for college.  I will probably see several of them again during breaks and what not, but it will never be quite the same as it was in high school and will be more difficult to get together.  I hope I stay in good contact with my high school friends even through the distance.  It will be different without them though, as I’ve lived in the same town for all of my life so far.  I won’t be moving away until after I get my general education completed through community college, but in two years or so I will be in a different place.  I am excited for that though even though I am nervous too.  I think it’ll be important for me to go somewhere different with a fresh start.

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.

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.

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