On Shyness

Regular readers will know I struggle with shyness. I mention it quite a lot on here, and that’s not because I’m looking for sympathy or anything like that: it’s because I’m shy about being shy and I want to try to break out of that by talking about it.

Shyness is a frustrating state to occupy. While introversion has (gladly) gained a measure of understanding recently thanks to the hard work of writers such as Susan Cain (there is sadly still plenty of work to do though), shyness remains a blind spot for many.

Just get over it. Talk to someone. Go on! It’s easy!

I appreciate that attitude, because it’s hard to understand shyness. Talking is one of the most natural things in the world, and people are generally good. Why should anyone be scared of talking to them?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know. I’m as confused as anyone. All I can do is articulate the emotion of being shy and hope that leads to some understanding of the why of shy. So here goes.

Shyness is feeling like you’re under the microscope in every single conversation you ever have. For the love of God, don’t screw this up.

Shyness is fearing that you’re boring the person you’re talking to, even if they seem absolutely enraptured by what you’re saying. How could anyone be interested in you.

Shyness is believing that every time you speak to a member of whatever gender you’re attracted to that you need to impress them as they represent your only shot at romance. You won’t be able to talk to anyone else.

Shyness is hoping that you’ll find someone who understands you, rather than seeing it as a certainty that someone will. You’re just… too weird.

Shyness is lacking the confidence to be assertive enough to put your point across. Yep, you’re gonna lose another meeting debate.

Shyness is hovering over the reply button on Twitter, wondering whether to tweet to someone and what to say. They weren’t really looking for a response anyway.

Shyness is knowing that no matter how much you try to unlearn everything you’ve learned, the fear will always be there, lingering in your mind. It doesn’t simply disappear.

Shyness is… loneliness.

Shyness is all those things, and many many more. But… it’s also not all bad.

Shyness is not just the inability to talk but the ability to listen.

Shyness is not just fearing that you’ll be alone but the ability to value the people who are close to you.

Shyness is not just being scared of what to say but understanding that what you do say has impact, so be careful.

Shyness is not just believing that your chances of love are slim but knowing that love is a truly powerful and significant thing that’s rare for a reason.

And shyness is not just not being assertive but knowing how to find compromise and seek diplomacy.

Shyness is… understanding loneliness and why it should be avoided at all costs.

Do those positives outweigh the negatives? Maybe. Maybe not. But hopefully they at least shine a light on what shyness is. Maybe even someone will read this and take a little heart from it. Hey there, shy person. You’re pretty darned cool and so is your shyness.

This isn’t the last post I’ll write about shyness, but it’ll tide me over for now. In the meantime, here’s a Paperman GIF. Because sometimes, even if you’re not looking for it, the world can still bring you into contact with people in weird and wonderful ways.

Also, I super-love this film.



5 thoughts on “On Shyness

  1. mmhm

    The way I understand it is it’s kind of like a phobia. The fear is of being rejected by the community. So, I’m irrationally afraid of spiders. Maybe there’s some evolutionary reason for it, but a little spider can’t possibly hurt me enough (or at all) to justify the extreme revulsion I feel seeing them. And with shyness, sometimes I’ll think of a fully formed sentence and be like, “Oh, I can say that!” but I don’t because I irrationally decide that the person I’d be saying it to will see through… me. Like my tone of voice will be phony. It took me forever to be able to thank people for complimenting me because I was afraid the “thanks” would sound insincere and people would think I was being rude. And while I knew, even in the moment, that I was afraid for no reason, I couldn’t really get rid of the feeling.

    But as you said, there are good things that go along with it, and I think ultimately they do make up for the rough patches. I’ve so far found that over time, the fear that comes with talking to specific people ebbs away as we get to know each other. But it takes forever. But it’s also worth it.


    1. That’s such a great comparison. It is just like any other fear, and like any fear, it’s irrational and can be overcome to some degree or other. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever be over it entirely, but it can at least be managed.

      I had a nice moment today though. Went into my local comic shop and the cashier had a little chat with me. Nothing spectacular, but a nice moment. Even managed to make a little joke, which I don’t normally do. She also complimented me on my a little Yoda Christmas badge I was wearing. So a good confidence day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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