The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “heart to heart”

When Shyness Stands in the Way of Love

Doug was my very first blogging friend.  He welcomed me into the blogging world and was always more than happy to answer any questions I had about blogging.  He allowed me to write my very first guest post too which helped me get started.  I’m very grateful for his friendship and hope to make a visit to his farm in Iowa the next time I’m in the area.  I asked if he could share some of his journey of overcoming shyness for my blog, and within a matter of hours he had a response ready for me!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.


My journey out of crippling shyness

Looking back, there are several   things that contributed to the shyness that gripped me throughout my days in school and into adulthood

I hated my name.

I  thought my ears were too big.

I was small for my age, wore glasses and  felt like a nerd.

My  mind would freeze at the thought of talking with a pretty girl.   I can count on one hand the number of one on one conversations I had with girls throughout my high school years .  Laugh all you  like, but if you struggle with shyness you know what I’m talking about.

Quick story.

When I turned 16, I remember thinking if somehow I didn’t get a handle on this problem, I was destined to turn out just like a guy who worked for my dad.  His name was Lowell Smock.  Nice guy, hard working,  but still single @ age 40.  I DID NOT want  to turn out like Lowel!

I wanted to date…..There was this girl in my homeroom I really wanted to get to know.   Problem was she sat with all the popular kids in the back of the class room and I sat in the front row, chewing on my pencil, ready to dash out the door, the moment the bell rang.   I felt like I was trapped between two  large black jaws of a vice….A life of singleness on the one hand and the crippling shyness that gripped my life on the other.  So I did the impossible.  I looked that girl’s phone number up in the phone book…over the course of several days I worked up the courage to dial it.  Her mom answered.  I remember writing out my conversation on a piece of paper.  Wonder  of wonders, when she got on the phone, I was able to stammer out my request to go to a movie..and she accepted!    Only went out on that one date because I didn’t know what to do the next Monday @ school.   She obviously had a good time because she came up to me in the lunch line.  I panicked, got out of line and left the cafeteria.  She had no idea what was going on in my head.  We didn’t talk again for 5 years.  Talk about a loser.

The next 4 years were pretty quiet.  I  did begin to go out socially after I graduated high school.  Tried every trick could imagine….asked my female cousins to set me up, went on double dates w/ friends..etc. Probably went out with a dozen girls…  I got tired of the mind games.   I got to a point of real desperation and actually cried out to God….I was not a religious person.  I honestly didn’t know if there was a god….. but I was sick and tired of the mind games, and the fear that still controlled my life….

Few weeks later, I happened to bump into that girl I had called on the phone for a date when I was 16.  She’d went away to college but came home after a semester.  She was working as a waitress in a pizza joint.  I was with my buddy Chuck that night..He said to me after she waited on our table,  “If you don’t ask her out, I will”  (He knew about my earlier panic attack with her back when I was 16). So I did…I asked her if she would ever be interested in hanging out…she said she would….and eventually became my wife.

Shyness continued to dog me until I entered my early 20’s.   At this point, I opened up to an older friend my struggles and asked her if she could help me.  Just opening up my struggles  to her did a lot to give me hope.  , I would encourage you to find someone you can trust…a mentor who you respect and seems to have their act together….you’ll be surprised at the difference that will make.  If you don’t have anyone in your life..feel free to  leave me a comment, I would LOVE to mentor a fellow shy person.   You do NOT have to live your whole life filtering everything through the “filter” of shyness and fear.

I believe shyness is rooted in how we think about ourselves.  It’s like we have a record  in our mind with grooves in it, playing the same old negative messages.

With the help of my friend and mentor, I began to literally cut new grooves in the recorded messages  of my  self -talk.

Thirty years later, I  still have  “moments” when some of that old stink’n think’n rears it’s ugly head, but it no longer controls me.

And finally, thank you Brittany for this opportunity to share my story.   DM


*To read more about Doug’s journey, I recommend you visit this link.

This is the first post I read of Doug’s when I started blogging and my comment on his post started our yearlong blogging friendship.  I was nervous to write to him and leave a link to my blog because I didn’t know if that would be welcome or not, but I’m very glad I did.  He has become a great friend and it’s been a pleasure getting to know him.

Lunch Disclosures

Lately there haven’t been a whole lot of opportunities to raise my hand in front of the whole class.  On Thursday I raised my hand a few times but since we were on the computer for those classes the teacher just came by and helped me one-on-one. It’s still been good practice though asking for help when I need it instead of trying to figure out certain things on my own so I don’t have to ask.

I spent lunch with a close friend Thursday.  We talked about general things at first that weren’t too personal, like upcoming dances, volunteer work, the weekend, etc. Eventually she brought up the topic of her weight again and she thinks if she loses so much weight that she’ll be more confident and self-assured.  I told her again that she didn’t need to lose that much weight, but if she really wanted to lose some weight she should do it safely.  I suggested exercising more and eating less, but not to the point where you’re starving yourself.  She said she’s really sensitive about her weight and easily upset.  I decided now was as good a time as ever to open up to her that my insecurity is my shyness and I’m really sensitive about it.  I told her how I dislike being called shy and every time someone says that to me, even her, it makes me upset.  I’d been meaning to sort of confront her about this for a while now since I’d heard her go on about that I’m “too shy” or “I wish you were more out there”, etc, and it’d always hurt my feelings.  I finally brought it up though, even though I was afraid of “making something out of nothing” by talking about things she’d said to me a while ago.

She said she didn’t know I was sensitive about it and that it hurt my feelings, and apologized and gave me a hug.  I went on about it and said there are a lot of good things about shyness too and it doesn’t have to be seen as a weakness. I said I was trying to work on things like talking to strangers and raising my hand too.  I told her that I work hard to be outgoing, and I wish I was just accepted by her.  Hopefully she’ll understand now that her sensitivity to being called fat is like my sensitivity to being called shy.  Since I started this project though, I have become less sensitive about it and have started embracing more of my shyness.

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.

Post Navigation