The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “school”

My First Day of College (Part II)

PART 2 Continued from Part 1

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence. 

I did a silly thing however and planted myself at a desk isolated from people already seated.  That was kind of dumb.  You can’t talk to people if you aren’t sitting next to people.  Luckily, the seats around me filled quickly.  The room was uncomfortably quiet, however, and I hesitated to break the silence.

Even so, I turned to my left and started talking to the girl next to me.  I introduced myself and she did the same.  When I asked her where she went to high school, I thought she said the name of my town!  I thought that was crazy!  Excited, I said, “Really?!  Me too!  How do I not know you?”

She looked at me, confused.  Then I felt confused.  “You did say (name of my town), right?”

“No I said Indonesia!” she exclaimed.

I laughed at the mix up, and admitted with an amused smile that I wasn’t from Indonesia then.

She smiled.  She told me she’d only been here (the U.S.) a month, which surprised me and I told her.  She has great English!  She was flattered and thanked me for saying that.  I was talking a lot to her and asking questions, and I actually started to worry I was talking TOO much.  I decided to be a little quieter.

I found out that she had a similar schedule to me and we both had about a two hour break after this class before our next classes.  I thought about asking her if she wanted to have lunch, but I was afraid that I had talked too much earlier and she might find me annoying.  I decided to not ask in case I was being overly friendly.

The class started and the syllabus was intimidating with all the work to be done in the class.  We were given an assignment and were told we could work with other people around us.  To summarize, I introduced myself to Erica in front of me, K to my diagonal, and Aileen on my right, and brought Yuli into the group too.  The teacher beamed at us as were introducing ourselves and laughing- the assignment was baffling us all (filling in the countries of a blank Middle East map). To my surprise, many of the others in the class stuck to themselves in hesitation.

After class we all gathered our things, and Erica turned to say bye to me before she left.  I stood up to leave and Yuli did too, and wouldn’t you know it, she said “Come! Let’s have lunch together!”

I was delightfully surprised that she wanted to have lunch and was relieved that I hadn’t talked too much earlier.  I smiled and said “Yeah that would be great!”

So we had lunch together and she told me all about Indonesia and I told her about America.  Our cultures and experiences didn’t really sound that different.  We wandered around the campus together and it was really nice.  I felt comfortable with her already.  I noticed several people on their own at lunch reading or whatever else.  I was glad I had made a friend already and didn’t have to eat alone.

After nearly two hours of talking, walking, and sitting, it was time to part ways for our classes, and I swapped numbers with her too.

Swing dance class was next.  Soon enough, I started talking with one of the girls waiting outside the class.  Turns out she’s a professional belly dancer despite her petite figure.  We stuck together the rest of the class.

Afterward in salsa class, I was approached for the first time.  The guy leaning against the wall next to me started talking to me, and I was glad someone came up to me.  When we entered the class he met another guy, and then I met the other guy too, and we all became friends.  We lined up side by side smiling as we got ready to learn the salsa.  They were both friendly, nice guys and I was glad we had already become friends.

And that concludes my first day of college.  It could not have gone any better!

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?

First Participation!

This morning I went to school with the mindset that I would start working on my newest goal: participating in class.  I didn’t necessarily expect myself to go into raising my hand right away though.  I figured I would just try and observe my reactions to see if I could somewhat control them.

I did more than I planned on though.  😉

In first period I decided to say something to the guy next to me, who is also very quiet.  I asked him a question about one of the assignments for the sake of starting some sort of conversation even though I didn’t really need to know the answer.  He wasn’t sure about the answer, but he smiled and spoke softly. I’m glad I asked him because he seemed friendly and sweet.

Then our teacher talked for a while about when the upcoming assignments were due (answering the question I didn’t really need to know anyway since I was already done).  After she finished talking, she passed back papers.  I raised my hand quick before I could put too much thought into it and asked her a question from one of the assignments.  The whole class was talking then and no one was paying attention, so it was much easier to raise my hand and just talk one-on-one with the teacher.  I later asked her another question without raising my hand when she walked past my desk.  She was able to help me, and I got all my questions sorted out.

At lunch I sat with a group of 7 friends that I don’t know too well, except one of them I am close to.  I felt more aware of my shyness in the larger group and noticed that lunch is a lot more fun when I’m just spending it with a couple of close friends in a small group or one-on-one with someone.  We all sat on the ground in a spread out oval-like shape, and I contributed every once in a while to the conversations, but not as much as I normally would in a smaller group.  I felt like I couldn’t talk loud enough to be heard by all the people in the group and a lot of them were able to talk pretty loudly, so I didn’t say too much.

In 6th period, I started thinking more about raising my hand in class.  In this class the teacher always asks a lot of questions and asks for people to volunteer, so I knew this would be a good class to start participating in.  I’ve raised my hand a few times in his class, but most of the time I think about answering and then can’t bring myself to do it and feel incredibly awkward.  A couple questions were asked that I could have possibly answered, but my heart started beating really fast at the thought.  So I paid attention to it and tried to slow it down a little and remind myself of past successes I’ve had when I’ve contributed in his class, and it helped a little.

Then he asked a question about a topic from the book that I had written my journal entry on, and I knew if I was going to answer any question it’d be that one, since I had already written out my answer for the journal prompt.  I felt ridiculously nervous though, more than I have felt in a long time. I was actually shaking a little, and was wondering why I had set this goal for myself and how easy it would be to just not do it.

But I raised my hand as soon as the question was asked.  I was called on, and as I answered my voice was a little shaky embarrassingly enough. It also sounded a little raspy and not like it normally does.  I found that I couldn’t talk as loud as I would have liked to have, and felt like I could have projected more.  But I did it, and he liked my response, and called on another guy who had a different response, but he said they both are two valid ways of seeing things.  He then asked if I could think of an example of what I said from the book and right away I thought of one on the spot and brought up another good point, which he was glad I brought up.

Afterward I was so relieved to have done my participating for the day, it felt pretty good.  I thought now all I had left in my day was going home, eating some cake my mom made since she hadn’t been able to make me a cake last week, and walking the dogs.  I was happy with myself, and I’m so relieved to have the first one out of the way.  I guess I can do this after all!  Next time hopefully I won’t start shaking though, because that was a little overwhelming and I didn’t expect that.

Raising Hand in Class Fear and Shyness

I’ve never been one to actively participate in class.  I’ve always done all my work, but I’ve done it quietly and mostly keep to myself.  When the teacher asks a question, I hesitate to respond and feel uncomfortable even thinking about the possibility of being picked to answer or to raise my hand.

I knew it was bad, but these past few days when I’ve been attempting to raise my hand surprised me with how difficult it was for me to do it.  It was so hard that I couldn’t even bring myself to do it when I planned on doing it.

When the question was asked or there was time for comments, I thought carefully about what I could say in my head. But just the mere thought of answering the question and raising my hand made my sympathetic nervous system go out of control.  My heart started pounding, my arm went limp, and my hands felt a little sweaty.  I also had a lot of negative thoughts in my head that were urging me to keep my hand down, so I felt like I was frozen.

In my psych class last week I thought of questions I could ask in advance since I had already read the week’s reading.  But when the time came when I could ask questions, I found that I couldn’t bring myself to ask them before someone else said something that changed the topic or she moved on to the next subject.  I was actually going to answer the very first question she asked, but I only got to awkwardly raising my hand half way before someone else just yelled out the answer and she moved on.

And in Lit class, there was a question I could have easily answered but when he asked the question and the room got silent, I couldn’t raise my hand and break the silence.  But I guess maybe my teacher could tell that I was trying to answer because I kept eye contact with him, and he said my name.  I answered with ease then just fine when I had been called on, but for some reason answering without being specifically called on is a lot harder for me.

So March will be about participating in class.  I’m not sure how I’m going to do it or what my specific goal will be yet, but I’m going to do it.  Maybe if I just don’t think about what I’m doing like I did when I made phone calls to reconnect with friends it’ll be easier?  I’ll find out I guess.  If anyone has ever had a similar fear to mine or has any tips on how you overcame your fear, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you just want to make comments in general, I’d be happy to hear them.


Well today’s date is pretty cool.  It’s supposedly a lucky day, and was apparently the senior skip day for my high school, though I didn’t even realize it.  I wouldn’t have skipped anyways.  I think the only classes I noticed that people were missing from were 1st and 6th period, especially 6th, where there were only like 10 of us out of a class of 35 or so.  It was a pretty easy day, it mostly consisted of watching movies and listening to guest presentations.

After school I walked Penny and Dexter again with Sean.  I had Dexter on one leash and Sean took Penny on the other, and this worked much better.  Still they got their leashes tangled up sometimes because they both wanted to be next to each other and sniff this and pee on that.  It was really cold outside, and it started sprinkling for a lot of the walk, and raining harder near the end.  We walked for nearly 2 hours, and my legs feel a little sore now.  I think the dogs had a good time though, despite some of the coldness and wetness we had to endure.  I gave them treats afterward and they seemed pretty happy.

Other than that today was pretty uneventful, unlike yesterday where a lot was going on.  But I did make some observations today.  As I was walking to my 6th period class today, navigating through the crowds, I thought to myself “Everyone’s concerned about themselves, they don’t care what I’m doing.”  This seemed to help me relax and worry less about where I’m looking and who I’m looking at.  I never know if I should stare ahead when passing by people, or if I should make eye contact and attempt a smile or something.  I usually think too much about it and worry about how I’m coming off. Reminding myself not to worry about it helped though.

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