The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “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!

Source: http://www.amightygirl.com/courage-roar-wall-quote

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

http://thespiritscience.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/o-HAPPINESS-facebook.jpgTo 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!

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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The Challenging Year of 2014

We all have our lowest points. Mine was Spring 2014. It definitely wasn’t all bad, but the hard times were indeed hard. I learned a lot and have been changed by it, but it did come at some big costs.

Before it started, I had had an incredibly rough first month at my new college away from home. I had a horrible roommate situation, and each day and night was so chaotic, noisy, and uncomfortable that I lost a lot of sleep, weight, and sanity. It was nearly impossible to do well in school and I was pretty distressed. And for the first time, I experienced the feeling of not having a home. I spent many nights wandering out on my own as late as possible in avoidance of the dreaded circumstances I might return to at my apartment. After a month of fighting with housing, I finally was able to move, and was very relieved.

By January, I had adjusted to my new school fairly well and had made some good friends. For this next semester, I was excited to challenge myself again by helping start up a brand new organization in addition to going to school full-time. Taking on this addition turned out to be a lot more stressful than I anticipated, however. The organization was pretty disorganized and I found this to be very stressful because I wanted to do a really good job but didn’t know what they wanted me to do. In addition, I was really worried about the programs I was expected to come up with and run. I kept imagining the worst occurring and the idea of presenting to a large group something I didn’t feel ready to present made me feel physically sick. I began experiencing intense and unrelenting anxiety throughout the semester. I couldn’t stop the thoughts and negative images from spinning about work and I felt like a prisoner to my own mind. Anxiety was rearing an uglier, more physical head than it ever had for me in the past. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed for panicking so much about the public speaking and for not being able to control my anxiety.

When it got to the point where I knew it was seriously affecting my health, I went to a school doctor and counselor. I was given some medication to try, but I started experiencing bizarre and uncomfortable effects. Then one day in class, I suddenly felt like I was about to black out. The edges faded black and I stumbled to the front to turn in my test before collapsing onto a bench outside. I wasn’t able to move for fear of passing out and was in such a distraught state. I ended up missing both of my midterms. My friend Matt came to my rescue when I called him and he helped me walk to my classes so I could explain to my teachers what happened. Even though I was thankfully able to make up my tests, it was a very scary experience and something that had never happened to me.

The rest of the semester was spent going back and forth between doctor’s appointments until it was figured out what was going on with me. My friend Elin took me so many times without hesitation and stayed by my bedside when I had to get an IV. I was extremely grateful and appreciative for her help. Ever since the near syncope, I had experienced constant pain in my head and had difficulty walking since I was so dizzy. I was told that I was experiencing vertigo and eventually it was determined that I had developed migraines with aura. I did my best to take it easier the rest of the semester, and was relieved when the job ended and I got to go home for summer break. Somehow I managed to keep my grades up even with all this going on. I did end up running my programs still, and they went great, and ended up being much more low-key than I had anticipated them being. Since then I’ve had some time to recuperate and I am feeling better.

Takeaways:

  • Sometimes you do have to remove yourself from a stressful situation if it proves to be too much
  • Anxiety and Stress is serious business and can really hurt your health
  • My anxiety got out of hand, and I need to build better mental barriers and work on controlling it again
  • You can see a beautiful side of people when you are at your lowest point

The Path is Not a Straight One

As much as it makes for a simple, happy story, the road to battling social anxiety and shyness is not a straight one. Even when you’ve had many accomplishments in overcoming obstacles, there is no guarantee that you will never face hard times again when you don’t continue to face those fears and challenge yourself.

In my year in San Diego, I definitely found myself falling backwards several times. This caused me to feel a lot of shame, because I knew I’d been able to do a lot in the past that I was now finding myself struggling with again. I am not sure why, but my social anxiety really took a physiological toll on me this past semester in particular. Maybe it was because I was facing a lot of new situations, or maybe sometimes anxiety just decides to rear an uglier head at some times more than others. Whatever the reason, it was more intense than I had experienced before, and I suffered a lot despite having a lot of amazing times as well.

Luckily the story has a happy ending, as I managed to face my fears and come out stronger through it all. It took some scary lessons with my health, but it required me to face the fact that I needed to build better mental barriers to keep myself from getting in that state again. Stress and anxiety is serious business, and I’m still learning how to keep both at a lower level, but it is something that has to be worked at continuously. You may find yourself overwhelmed at times like I was, but know you’re not alone and that it can get better if you are determined to make things better. More to come soon on what happened during the year, and please hang in there if you are going through a rough time as well.

Picking up Friends- College Orientation Style

Six months have passed since I transferred to my new college. As you may recall, I was nervous to leave my small town and comfort zone of friends, family, and favorite dancing spots. Well, let me catch you up on how the first semester went. I’ll break this up into a few posts so I can touch on each area I wanted to address.

First off was orientation. I was nervous for the potential ice breakers, but luckily there were none. Nothing like the awkwardness of putting a bunch of strangers in a room and having them do a dance move for each letter of their name or throw a beach ball around asking them to name their favorite band or type of food. I admit they can sometimes be useful or even fun, but most of the time they deserve the groans they solicit. The orientation turned out to be mostly just listening to lectures, but I did manage to make two initial friends through it who I later took classes with.

The first time I tried to make a friend was in line waiting to get my orientation packet.  I picked out my victim, the girl in front of me, and made my move quickly. “Is this the line for transfers?” I asked, actually needing to verify that I was in the right place anyway. She said it was, and I thought soon enough we’d be schmoozing and conversing from there.  Didn’t turn out that way. I tried talking to her some more, but it was a real struggle because she didn’t seem very interested in talking and faced back ahead. Mission abort!

It took two minutes of arguing with myself in my head before I finally turned around and asked whoever it may be that was behind me if they were a transfer too. Well, duh, we’re in the transfer line. But the point is not to say something profound, just anything light that serves as a friendly little icebreaker and invitation to talk. She was pretty friendly and nice surprisingly, asking me several questions, unlike the other girl. She seemed like someone I’d be friends with. We ended up arranging to take the same Spanish class, and sat next to each other throughout the semester with two other people we got to know in class.

I met another girl when we had to sit down for a lecture once we got our orientation packets. She just so happened to be a Sociology major too. I started talking to her by asking if orientation was supposed to go until 5 or 6 because I had heard 5 but the program said 6. We continued talking every now and then from there, and sat out and had lunch together during the break. She was actually getting married in two weeks and is 26. We each told each other more about ourselves and it was nice to already have someone to spend the lunch break with. We ended up taking the same Research Methods class.

Developing this habit of picking up friends and devising little ice breakers I’d say was one of the biggest take-aways from my project. I find myself doing this often, and I do feel like I have a good strategy for it even though I do often get nervous to make the initial move. I think anyone who wants to develop a similar habit will find comfort in knowing that the more you do it the easier and more routine it becomes. Most of the time it is a positive response and people are glad you reached out to them, so if you’re thinking about it remember that!  If it isn’t, like with the first girl I mentioned who I attempted to befriend, that is perfectly okay and you just have to try again. Some people you just won’t click with right away. It’s kind of like a game, and the more you play the more familiar it becomes, and the more chances you have at finding some people you really connect with. Happy friending! It’s worth the effort!

Blogging Connections & Meeting in Person

Hey all. I know it’s been a few months since I’ve written. I could tell you that I’ve been very busy with school and adjusting to a new city. Or, I could instead let you imagine that I’ve been on an epic mission to Mars teaching Martians to dance and do an array of moves that may or may not stoop as low as the funky chicken. Up to you. But in all seriousness, I hope this post finds you all healthy and happy. And that you’ve had a wonderful holiday and are enthusiastic for the New Year.

Thankfully I’ve had some more time recently on my Christmas break to read some of the blog posts of blogging friends and those who I take inspiration from. This has rejuvenated my spirits and made me grateful for this creative outlet and source of interconnectivity. I’ve said it before, but blogging truly can bring you in touch with some great people and be a source of motivation. I smile when reading a lot of your posts and feel a real connection to you. Even though I haven’t been posting as much, I’m happy to have been receiving several emails from readers and to have you continue to share and confide in me. I’m always honored, even if I can’t get back to you as quickly as I used to.

To go further into the topic of connections, I’ve been meaning to write that I was able to meet my very first blogging friend, Doug, and his wife Micaela, in the flesh this past summer. I was in the Midwest visiting family and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it work to meet up with him, but I decided to send him a message anyway. It had been a long while since we had talked, but Doug was delighted to hear from me and excited at the idea of meeting. So I pulled out the charm to convince my parents that this would be a rare opportunity, and thankfully they went out of their way so it could happen.

Meeting him in person was wonderful. I was nervous at first, but once he and Micaela came out front and greeted us with hugs I immediately felt at ease. My family felt comfortable with them quickly too, especially upon seeing their apple orchard, chickens, and adorable dog. Doug and I both said it felt like we had met before or were family. We chatted for a little while, explored their back yard, and snapped a picture before heading off on our journey to Illinois with one last hug and a nice card from them both. I left smiling, happy for the chance to meet and to strengthen a connection made through the blogging sphere. It’s truly a unique opportunity.

If you have any thoughts on the value of the blogging sphere or about blogging friends you’ve been able to form a real connection to or have met up with even, please share below! I’d love to hear your stories. More to come soon!

Reading an E-Book Manuscript from a Reader

About a month ago, I received a lovely email from Andrew Landis in which he described an e-book he had written with his co-author Julia Swift, called Bold. In his own words, “Bold is about two 15-year olds, one shy girl who almost died in a car accident, and one boy who struggles with the loss of his journalist father, as they try to learn the difference between being bold and being stupid.” He told me he thought my project was wonderful and was wondering if I would be open to reading their book. I told him I’d be happy to read it, so he printed out the manuscript and sent it to me when I had just gotten to San Diego State for school orientation.

To my surprise, I was able to read through it fairly quickly, taking in pieces over the course of the two to three days I was there. The beginning didn’t grab me too much at first, but as I got further into the story, I felt the writing improved and I found myself wanting to know more.

The two main characters are Sasha and Will. In the beginning of the story Sasha describes herself as invisible and insignificant as a shy person, which I couldn’t personally relate to as much, but I’m sure others have felt that way. (Personally, I felt more frustration with others and myself, but I still felt that I was important.) Later on after the car accident, Sasha begins trying to live her life fully and boldly, something she didn’t feel that she did before. As for Will, he is a character who seems to have it all on the surface, but underneath he experiences his own pain. The story is about how the two influence each other as they come to terms with their own struggles.

I thought overall the story had a good inspirational message on living life fully and openly, and I encourage you to check out the piece if you would like a fairly quick, enjoyable read. There are some great quotes in the book that I found myself writing down and reflecting on, particularly near the end. For the next 5 days, Wednesday, September 4, 2013, through Sunday, September 8, 2013, the e-book will be free for download for the kindle on Amazon.com. If you don’t have a kindle, you can read it online by downloading a kindle app for your computer I believe. After then I believe it costs $2.99. From the emails I can tell that Drew and I’m sure his writing partner Julia as well are wonderful people and  they use their own experiences with shyness to share an uplifting message. They have always believed in telling stories that can change peoples’ lives somehow, “even if it’s just one person,” so I hope if this book sounds interesting to you that you’ll give it a chance!  I’m sincerely glad I did.

Here’s the link to the book, Bold. Enjoy! : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DSRJHHY

San Diego State, Here I Come!

After months of waiting, I found out recently that I got accepted to San Diego State.  That means that my two years of Community College will at last be coming to an end, and in the Fall I will get to experience going to a four-year college.  Not only that, but I will get to experience being 10 hours away from home and away from the people I’ve grown close and accustomed to.

Thinking of leaving to San Diego brings up mixed feelings for me.  I am sad thinking of the people I will have to say goodbye to and the distance that will be between us.  I’ve really enjoyed living in the city an hour north of my parents’ this year because I love the people, the dancing, and the general area.  I could see myself spending more time here, and feel the year went by quickly.  But at the same time, I know that San Diego State has a lot of interesting Sociology classes that I want to take, has a lot of cool areas to explore and activities to get involved in, and that I would really regret not going.  I’m likely to feel out of my comfort zone and a little lonely at first, but deep down I know that my fear makes it all the more important that I go.  I think I will enjoy living in San Diego as long as I can get involved on campus and in the community.  And I know I will still be in touch with the friends and family I am apart from.

Have you ever had to move away on your own from loved ones and start anew in a different city?  How did your experience turn out?

Peer vs Self-Validation

wreck it ralphI watched “Wreck-It Ralph” for the first time on Wednesday. The story is about a “bad guy” (Wreck-It Ralph) who deserts his arcade game to prove that he’s not so bad after all and has what it takes to be a good guy.  Throughout the movie he searches for a hero’s medal, which he believes will help him be accepted by his peers in the arcade community.

I liked the messages in the film about how we should not let others’ labels or views define or hold power over us. We are all too complex and multidimensional to be simplified or put in a box.  Ralph may play the role of a “bad guy” for his video game, but there is more to him than that and he shouldn’t be restricted to this role.  What he believes about himself and how he personally identifies is much more important than what others believe or think about him.

Of course, I can relate to this message because this story has a lot of parallel elements with how my Project came about.  I didn’t like how the “shy” label was imposed on me and how restricted I felt in my actions and pursuits. This project was my journey in shedding this label and allowing myself to discover who I really am and what I am capable of when I put my mind to it. In the end, I learned that I was much more capable than I believed, and that although I may continue to feel shy in certain situations, it doesn’t have to define me or hold me back.  Sharing these experiences made me feel very vulnerable, but the benefits were enormous and allowed me to connect with others on a much deeper and meaningful level than I had ever been able to before.  Since I could relate to Wreck-It Ralph, I especially enjoyed this story of self-discovery and breaking free of labels.  What did you think of the film and what messages did you get out of it?

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