The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “conquering shyness”

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!

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.

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!

Volunteer Weekend

This weekend I spent every day doing some volunteer work.  On Friday, I volunteered with Eco Club after school to sort through the recylcling bins we set up at our school.  Unfortunately, people don’t really put their recycling in there, they also like to put in the rest of their lunches and a lot of other crap.  So the bins are moldy and stinky, with moldy oranges, sandwiches, and various liquids.  So all that stuff is sorted into a trash pile, and then we sort plastic bottles, glass bottles, caps, and cans.  I think I was sorting the bins for 2 and a half hours or so, but I didn’t mind because some of my friends were there and I actually enjoyed it.  Volunteer work is a lot more fun when you do it with friends.

On Saturday, I volunteered with Interact Club to spend an hour cleaning up 7th street.  We basically just pick up trash and put it in garbage bags.  I worked with a girl that I’m sort of friends with (I don’t know her well) and I worked to keep conversations going with her.  After that I had to drop my brother off at the library, and I spent the rest of the day at home, taking notes out of my psychology book in preparation for the next class.  I also watched a 2 hour anime movie after working on psych for 3 hours straight, since I needed a break.

Today(Sunday), I received a facebook message from an Interact member saying there was a volunteer opportunity today at 3pm, so I offered to go, and got my friend Pearl to go too.  In the morning I was doing more psych stuff, and when 2:40 came Pearl and I went to the house where we were supposed to volunteer.  We met Theresa, who was in need of the help, and I asked her what she was doing and more about her event.  She told me it was a PTSA auction to raise money for the middle school, and she needed help sorting the tickets.  She wanted us to tear off the tickets in groups of 25 and bundle them so they’d be all set for the auction.  So Pearl and I did that, and it was tedious, but still fun because we got a chance to talk.  We haven’t hung out in a while, last year we hung out so much and were really close.  So it was good talking about things, and we worked and talked for 3 and a half hours, then decided we should be getting home.  Afterward our necks and backs were sore from leaning over the table for so long, but it was worth it.

So this weekend was a lot of volunteering and a lot of psychology.  I’d say it was a pretty good weekend. 🙂

Job Shadowing

I job shadowed my dad at his work today(he’s a chemical engineer)!  It was quite an experience.  I had to wake up at 5:45am, and then we left around 6:15am and got there a little after 6:30.  I had to pass through a couple of security places and have my ID checked and get a visitor’s pass.  I finally got to see the place that my dad works in, and it certainly wasn’t what I had pictured.  He had said he works in a trailer, so I imagined us standing inside a big vehicle and him performing chemical tests all day.  But the trailer room was nice, and pretty big actually.  He mostly works in an office all day behind a computer, there’s a lot of paperwork and computer work to being an engineer.  I met and talked to at least a dozen engineers though, which I’ll count for talking to strangers because I went around to each of their offices with my dad and introduced myself and talked to them about their career paths.  Everyone I talked to who was a chemical engineer said they always knew they wanted to do something with math and science, and most of them knew they wanted to be engineers.  With that knowledge, and hearing their daily conversations about chemicals and science type stuff, I now at least know that engineering isn’t for me, at least not chemical.  But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to do any type of engineering because I’m not math and science inclined.  The people I talked to in my dad’s trailer were really great people though.  They were all really nice and friendly, and were happy to talk about careers and majors. They were glad that I was putting so much effort and thought into choosing a career.  I was known as the “tennis extraordinaire” thanks to my dad’s bragging apparently, haha.  I got to talk to my dad a lot that day though, and I asked him lots of questions.  It was a good bonding day.  We talked about things we don’t normally talk about too much and he told me also really appreciated the card Sean and I made for him, which was nice to know because I didn’t know that he had liked it so much.  Now I will try and make something nice for him on his birthday too.

I went to a meeting with my dad at 9:30am and it lasted about a half hour.  A few guys were talking about the refinery for a while and I was pretty lost, but some of the things that were said about how they thought they did in 2010 and how they wanted to improve in 2011 were interesting.  I also went to a lunch meeting at 11:30am with my dad and one of coworkers Sharon, who was really nice and friendly.  We went to a nice restaurant called Jacks to meet with a guy named Tom who was trying to sell them catalysts and they wanted to hear his proposal.  I didn’t understand most of what was said about engineering and h1 this and h2 that, but it was interesting seeing the guy work his persuasion.  He talked to me a little too and about careers and what not.  And at the end he picked up the tab, so it was a pretty good deal!  Free lunch just for listening to the guy’s offer.

All in all I can say it was a good day, and I learned many things.  For one, I learned about what my dad does for a living, and when he was explaining things about how the refinery worked I could tell he was actually passionate about what he was doing.  It seemed like most all of the engineers in his department were enthusiastic and happy about their work too, many of them were laughing and joking around with each other.  The work environment seemed excellent.  I learned that the people you work with and the people you work for can make a huge difference in your career satisfaction and happiness too.  I’ve read that in career books before, but experiencing it and seeing it really proved that point.  I also learned that engineering isn’t for me, although I really liked the people, I don’t think I’m well suited for the work.  I could do it, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it.  I’m not really into science and the people there speak very scientifically when it comes to talking about engineering things.  We got home around 6pm and my mom had spaghetti ready, so it was a pretty good day!

Dog Walking Today

Today was another good day.  I walked my neighbor’s dogs Penny and Dexter since it was a nice(but chilly) day.  My brother and his friend were going to the park today anyways so I decided to go with them and take the dogs.  I thought it would just take an hour to walk around the park and the lake and back, but it actually took nearly 2 hours!  The dogs were difficult to walk too because they kept tangling their leashes and crossing in front of me and it wasn’t always easy.  After a while I got more used to it and was better at keeping them in one place, but still they liked to move around a lot in random directions and wanted to stop and sniff everything we passed.  It was fun though, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  After the walk I took them back to my neighbor’s house and gave them a treat, and they seemed really happy, especially Dexter. I left a note for my neighbor telling her that I had taken them for a long 2 hour walk today around community park, and they had been very excited.

She called me at around 8:30pm and left a message saying how happy and thankful she was that I had walked the dogs today.  She had to work late today and had just gotten home, so she had been feeling guilty about coming home so late, and was pleasantly surprised to see them so happy when she came home.  She said she could see a real difference in their behavior, they hadn’t chewed anything up and were even lying down on the couches, tired.  I thought that was funny because the long walk had tired ME out, and I didn’t expect it would have tired them out too since they always seemed to have so much energy.  But I called her back and talked to her and I felt good that I decided to walk them today and that it was so appreciated.  🙂

Catching up with a Friend and Talking with My Neighbor

Well I didn’t talk to any strangers today, but I still had a pretty great day.  In the morning I went on a walk with my mom and it was nice because the park was pretty quiet and peaceful and it was also a sunny day.  Afterward we went to Safeway and picked up some groceries, where I had been planning to talk to the check-out lady, but all I could think of to talk about was the same thing I used before, the “pretty quiet day today?” type of intro, and I wanted to think of something different that would be generic enough to use.  But by the time it was our turn, I hadn’t thought of anything else, so I didn’t say anything.  I’ll have to think of some other things to say, or just use that intro again anyways.

After Safeway I called my friend who I had lost contact with ever since she moved two years ago.  We had talked a little on facebook, but I had promised her that I would call her soon so I did.  I hadn’t called her before because we kinda just lost touch and I was shy about just calling her up and trying to reconnect.  But we finally talked today, and it was a great conversation.  I’m really happy I got to talk with her.  She’s going through a lot of the same things as I am, worrying and stressing about what major to choose and what to do for a career and what not.  It was good to talk about that since we both feel the same way that it’s really hard to make a decision right now of what we want to do.

After I finished talking with her, which was about after an hour or so, I went over to my neighbor’s house to return the dish she had brought over when she gave us cookies.  My mom had baked scones and brought some over to her, and she returned the favor by bringing us cookies too!  It was a nice thing for her to do.  I had been wanting to talk to her about walking her dogs Penny and Dexter.  I noticed them whining and howling a lot when she was at work all day and wanted to see if it was ok with her if I took them on walks.  I was about to ask her about that while petting her dogs(who were very excited to see me by the way, I love those dogs) and then she surprised me by asking if she could pay me to walk them!  I said yeah, I’d love to!  I told her I was going to ask if I could take them on walks anyways because I enjoyed spending time with them.

So it was pretty cool, I had just been planning on returning her dish, seeing her dogs, and asking if I could take them on walks, and I actually got a little job out of it, and we had a great conversation too!  We talked for an hour or so about careers and I asked her about her job as a Respiratory Therapist, and other health related jobs.  We also talked about art and she told me about how painters have used their art to make a difference.  One of the stories was that a painter had been hired to paint the Royalty people, and in addition or instead he painted the lower class and poor people, which at the time was pretty rebellious and unheard of.  To people during that time, him painting the poor was like someone painting the dump, it was just never really done before and was shocking.  Another painter painted these midgets that were being used as pets by some cruel group, and he used these paintings to show the emotions and deeper sides to the midgets that had been so cruelly treated.  So it was definitely interesting hearing about how art can make a difference, and it made me want to do some more research.

So even though I didn’t talk to a stranger today, I still feel like I accomplished a lot and was more outgoing, and it made me feel great!  I’m tired, but at the same time energized.  I’ve read books that say that spending time with people drains introverts and energizes extroverts, but I don’t really think it’s all that black and white.  I think it’s a mix of both for me, and I consider myself an introvert for sure.  I enjoy making deeper connections with people and having a great conversation, but being outgoing all day does get tiring.  But I do enjoy it.

Post Navigation