The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “goals”

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!

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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!

Make New Friends

Public speaking was a great challenge.  It was probably the hardest one yet because being the center of attention like that brings out the natural shyness in many of us.

I honestly did not feel confident that I was going to be able undertake Toastmasters and public speaking.  I’ve always hated presentations and even the word “presentation” or “oral report” was enough to make my stomach churn and my heart race.  In the past I’ve worried weeks before presentations in school and have had trouble sleeping and concentrating on anything else but the presentation.

Of course, I still get nervous for a presentation. I still worry about forgetting what I’m saying or making a fool of myself.  But I’ve gotten a lot better at quieting my negative voice and magnifying my positive voice.  This has definitely helped reduce the time I’ve spent worrying about an upcoming presentation or speech.  I’ve felt less stressed.

Even though I’m moving on to my next goal now, I am continuing with Toastmasters, like I have continued with my other goals.  It is a fairly big time commitment since it is every week, but I know that the benefits of this educational program will be extraordinary.

But now, it is time for another goal.

It’s time…to make new friends.

High school ended.  College is starting.  It’s the prime time for me to move out of my comfort zone and expand my circle of friends.  Several high school friends are moving away, and although several of my friends are still going to be in the area, I think it’s important to meet new people too.

When you go to a four year college, it is supposedly a lot easier to make friends.  You share a dorm room with someone, who could be a potential friend, or who could be a potential nightmare.  You live on campus so you are surrounded by thousands of other people around your age.  There are house parties, clubs and organizations, sports, campus events, and so forth.

Community college, however, is different.  A majority of the students come to school, take their classes, and then head home or off to work.  There aren’t living arrangements on campus.  There aren’t as many campus events, if any.  Making new friends is a little harder.

One of the main reasons why I wanted desperately to go to a four-year school before was to make new friends.  My brother Andrew made a family away from home while he was at UC San Diego.  He is still good friends with many of them today, even though they live in different parts of the country.  My brother Sean spent his first few years at community college, but didn’t really make any friends there.  It wasn’t until he went to Sonoma State that he met Brian, who welcomed him into his large circle of friends.

I realize it’ll be easier to make more friends once I transfer to a four-year school, but I want to make the most of my experience at community college.  I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in the past and I really love getting to know people.  My hope now is that I can make some new friends.  The trouble is, how do I go about doing that?

My main idea is to make at least one friend in each of my classes this semester. I don’t know if I’ll be able to join school clubs where I realize it would be a lot easier to meet people, but I can make friends in my courses.  Since I have little time with six classes and a new job, I’ll have to get creative.  I can meet friends of my new friends.  I can meet friends of my current friends.  I can make my friend search well-known, so people know I am looking to meet new people and would love to be introduced.

College is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings, and I am more than ready to come in with a clean slate.  If I make an effort, I believe it will be possible to make friends at community college.  It’s all about making that first move and seeing where it goes from there.

Who knows who I could meet if I just try?

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.

Weekend Fun

It’s been a little while since I’ve written.  I had a lot of fun Thursday and Friday out with friends even though I started getting sick Thursday with a fever.  By Saturday I completely lost my voice other than a few croakings that would trail off into no speech coming out at all.  It’s Tuesday now and my voice is still a little weak and raspy and my cough hasn’t been fun, but I’m doing better.

On Thursday I played Frisbee afterschool with friends and had a picnic, and some of us went to a friend’s house afterward and went swimming.  It was a really good day though I did get pretty sunburned.  I played this Wii Kinect dance game by the way and did a few of the dances in front of everyone even though I had been avoiding it earlier.  Soon enough I told myself to just do it and everyone was calling me to go so I did, something I probably would have avoided before.  It was fun and not as embarrassing as I thought.

Friday night I went swing dancing for the first time in a month which was a lot of fun.  I’m glad I went even though I felt sick and miserable during the day.  I did have to deal with some annoyances of a guy sort of stalking me the whole night who I remembered as the guy who had asked me to dance over ten times the last time I came and had tried to get my number.  Everywhere I went I soon saw him moseying on by looking around in my area.  I avoided him enough though and only agreed to dance with him once this time.  I did ask a couple of guys to dance when I wanted to keep myself occupied, and I did get asked quite a bit so that was nice.  I had fun and brought some of the prom goofy dancing spirit into my dancing.  I probably wore myself out though and should have taken it easier so I wouldn’t have felt worse on Saturday.

I will update again when I figure out what I want to do in May and get that decided.  As of right now, I’m still dressing well and being aware of others.   I’ll probably be able to break out into more dresses and what not in May too once it’s warmer.  Being sick right now hasn’t helped either since the best thing for me is to dress warm so I can get better.  I might be posting a little less as high school is ending in about a month, and there’s very little time left.  I don’t want to get too caught up in my goals that I forget to enjoy the moment.   Thanks for reading, and good night!

A Solitary Walk

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This week has been my spring break from school, and unfortunately it’s been raining hard all week so I’ve mostly stayed indoors.  I’ve been reading a lot though, and have a lot of books checked out on shyness as well as some other books that I’m simultaneously reading (I read too many books at once).  I did meet up with some friends for volunteer work at school on Monday though, and did some work for my internship yesterday and helped the client see where his water usage was going.

Today was finally a sunny day though, at least on and off it was, as it’s been raining today too.  After spending my morning reading a book on shyness and taking notes, I decided it was a good day for a walk.  So I got dressed and asked my mom if she wanted to go with me, but she didn’t really.  I was thinking of calling my neighbor to see if she wanted me to take the dogs today or not, since she was home today.  I was sort of hesitant about calling, but then just pressed the button and did it without feeling any nervous symptoms thankfully.  It turns out that she didn’t want me to take the dogs today since she was going to take them, but at least I asked.  I gave myself a little pat on the back afterward, haha. 🙂

I wondered if I should just stay home then and not go walking, since my mom didn’t want to go and I didn’t need to take the dogs today.  I decided to go out on my own, even though it’s been a little while since I’ve walked around on my own and I prefer to be with people or the dogs.  I feel more self-conscious when I’m on my own when it comes to exercising.

As I walked and all these cars drove past me, I did notice that I felt kind of anxious though and couldn’t focus on my thoughts as well as I would have liked.  I felt like each person passing by in their car was watching me and I was very self-conscious about my movements and expression.

I made eye contact with, smiled, and said hi to every person I passed though, and they each said hi back to me, or nodded or smiled.  I walked until I reached the park, and then ran a lap around it and walked some of it.  I went over to pet a cute dog  that was going crazy with excitement trying to go over to me, and I talked to the owner (and the dog) for a little while, said it was nice to meet him, and then moved on.  I ran up the hill on the way home, and by the time I reached my court I was really out of breath. I saw a neighbor who I’d never spoken to before at the stop sign, and he started talking to me and I talked to him for a little while.  He said he had seen a girl running in the pouring rain yesterday and asked if that was me, and I said no and that I wasn’t THAT dedicated to running.  The rain was madness yesterday, it was bad enough that I had to drive in it, but I wouldn’t go running in that weather. I felt good after my walk/run and shower, it’s amazing what exercise can do for you.

Apologizing for Shyness

Sometimes people feel a need to apologize for others’ shyness.  (or their own)

I distinctly remember in 8th grade when we had to do a self-defense unit, and my teacher said “Brittany doesn’t talk” with a smile to the instructor who was complaining that I didn’t yell loud enough when practicing attacking her in front of the others.

The sad thing is that I had that teacher for two years and thought I had talked to him quite a bit, especially the year before.  I was quiet in his class, but I talked to the friends I made, so I wasn’t silent.  That was the class where I went over and introduced myself to a girl who had just moved here from Brazil and was by herself.  Ever since then we’ve been good friends, and at one point the closest of friends.

People often would say that I don’t talk, even when I’ve talked to them or talk to my friends.  I guess they mean I don’t talk as much around them.  Because in every class I’ve been in I have talked, just maybe not enough to be considered talking to them I guess.

I’ve let some things slip that I later kicked myself for though too.   Last month I told a stranger that my neighbor’s dog Dexter was “just a little shy” when the other dog Penny raced up to the stranger while Dexter hid behind my legs.

I don’t know why I did that; I didn’t have to justify his behavior.  So now if that happens again I won’t say anything about that, and if they ask, I’ll simply say that he likes to take his time getting to know people.  When you apologize for shyness it makes it seem like a bad thing, and you’re also labeling that person (or animal in my case) as shy, making them think that they must be shy then.  It’s important to be careful to avoid doing that, as it has a greater effect than you might think.

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.

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