How I Overcame My Shyness
I was shy ever since I can remember. Well, ever since I can remember my Mum telling me (and others) I was shy, anyway! And what did my shyness look like? Well, some of the signs were...
- As a child, I always hid behind the legs of my Mum when adult friends I didn't know well came into our house
- I only ever made a few close friends at school, at college and at university
- I was always one of the 2 quietest kids in class, rarely putting my hand up
- I was completely scared of girls, and I *never* talked to them
And even now, when I am far from being shy, I much prefer one-to-one 'deep-and-meaningful' conversations rather than getting involved in the banter of a group!
So, to me, my shyness has always been some kind of limiting force making my life 'less'.
And I always knew I wanted NOT to be shy!
I always knew I didn't like and respect my shyness. (And now I know that this dislike and disrespect had a harmful impact on how I sometimes still think about myself!)I say all this to convey to you the negative impact my shyness had on me, and my life,
and the reason why it was so important for me to overcome my shyness between the ages of 8 and 28.
So how did I overcome my shyness?
- I tried to be somebody 'new' at every new school I went to
So when I left Junior School (aged 11) I simply decided to be less shy, to talk more to new people, and be less like the person people thought I was at Junior School. I did this, again, when I left Secondary School to go to 6th Form College. And, I did it again, when I went to University.
(I was somewhat unprepared for the adolescent-to-adult experience at University, however, and I will admit here to finding my first year at University extremely stressful, socially-speaking. But I'm sure I'm not alone in this.)
Anyway, my deciding to be less shy did work! Though it also set up a condition of change for me, that is perhaps not helpful, meaning
that I can only change if the people around me change. (And, guess what, some people - namely family - never change!)
- I asked women if they wanted to dance at discos. Repeatedly.
For some reason I still don't understand, I decided that to overcome my discomfort of talking to girls/women the thing to do was to go up to a complete stranger I happened to find attractive and ask, simply, whether she wanted to dance! (Only at discos and nightclubs, obviously. Even *I* knew not to ask a woman to dance whilst at the supermarket!)
Doing this - asking a girl to dance - was one of the hardest things for me to do at the time, believe me! And I 'suffered' when they replied 'no' (as they usually did - I had not made any eye contact with them beforehand, checked out any other useful body language signs, and was completely nervous of talking to them) - and I 'suffered' when they said 'yes', too! (Now what do I do, I'd think.)
The whole experience was 'awful', in truth, and very unkind to myself, but it did 'work', and I slowly got more and more comfortable talking to and being with women.
I know there must be better, kinder ways to be less shy, and I certainly do not advocate that anybody follow either of my strategies without really thinking about what they are trying to achieve (i.e. what outcome they want). But I DO advocate some form of taking action, I really do! And this is simply what I did from early adolescence to early adulthood!...
Thanks for reading.
Believe me, it's good to share this!
PS And even though I have pretty much overcome my shyness, I still turn to it sometimes (unknowingly), when faced with a new 'opportunity'. And I still feel uncomfortable about approaching women in bars or nightclubs. (So I don't do it - what a great idea! Lol.)
PPS And this is a message to all the parents out there! Please, please do everything you can to discourage your child's belief that they are shy! You'll be doing them a HUGE service for the rest of their life, believe me...