Happy World Introvert Day

It’s World Introvert Day today (2nd January). Well, I think it is. I’m not 100% sure because not many people are talking about it. What do you expect from introverts!?

Awareness of introversion and its effects has increased in recent years thanks to the likes of Susan Cain and her wonderful book Quiet, but there remains a dismissive attitude towards it. It’s something to be overcome, to be beaten: a weakness that one must eradicate to be a whole and better person.

I think there are good intentions in that attitude. If you see someone who’s quiet, you want to help them come out of their shell a little bit and get them to talk more. It’s natural and I’ve had many people do that over the years. I’m always very grateful for their help because it comes from a good place.

However, we need to move past the idea that introversion is somehow a weakness, because it’s not. In a world of noise, quiet contemplation is a vital necessity: it gives us the opportunity to analyse and properly understand a situation. It helps us reflect on our feelings and better empathise with others if they’re feeling a similar way. It helps us become better people.

Introversion isn’t just the absence of talking, it’s the presence of listening, and we could all do with a little more listening in 2017. That should start, I’d suggest, with listening to introverts. It is our day, after all!

Now, I’m off to sit alone in a quiet room and read. Have a nice World Introvert Day everyone.

 

 

 

 

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.

giphy

 

Clothes make the man?

shirtThere’s a great webcomic I came across the other day in which an introverted young man buys a t-shirt. The shirt features a large slogan, and the man has to talk himself into it as it would make him stand out, and that’s not normally something he likes. After much deliberation, he buys the shirt, but in the final panel, he puts it in his closet, along with a number of other similar shirts, and concedes that he’ll probably never wear it.

I’ve found myself in a similar position many times before. I love browsing etsy, RedBubble and other such sites filled with great creations by independent artists, and my mouse more often than not wanders over to the t-shirts section. I look through the offerings, but no matter how much I love a shirt, if I deem it ‘too loud’ or ‘too attention-grabbing’ I leave the page and don’t buy it. Good for my wallet, not so good for my self-esteem.

I’ve decided to try and change this though. I’ve been using the gym recently and have lost a bit of weight, with more coming off every week. This means I’m more comfortable with my overall body image and am looking for new clothes. Or, to be more specific, different clothes. Before, I would have opted for the safe options and muted tones. I still wear those, of course, but I want to try and mix things up. Draw a little more attention to myself.

The first step began at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, where I picked up the rather lovely Bantha Raglan t-shirt, and continued with acquisitions of Stranger Things and Close Encounters of the Third Kind shirts. The former is something to wear in the gym and the latter a big step forward because I bought it in red – a loud colour that won’t blend in anywhere. These shirts are subtler than many others, but they’re still making statements and will stand out in a crowd.

Along with Spielberg and Spielberg-referencing TV phenomenons, I’m also a big Disney fan and picked up a very awesome Big Thunder Mountain shirt off Redbubble. I’m going to follow this up with a few more. Disney has always been something I adore, but that I’m not wholly comfortable admitting I enjoy to random people. There’s a general consensus than Disney’s for kids (which it is) or just for women (which it isn’t). Being a man who loves Disney and has some Disney Princess merchandise feels somehow… I dunno. Not masculine? (I’m going to write about this at a later date).

But screw that! Disney have just released some amazing retro Walt Disney World t-shirts on their online shop, and I’m going to get at least one of those, and I’ve found some awesome offerings on the Society6 store of designer Rob Yeo. Again, these t-shirts aren’t especially loud, but they’re a step in the right direction, and a to the right people, they might grab a bit of attention and maybe even start a conversation. Which is what this whole thing is about really: summoning the courage to chat with like-minded people. Hopefully it’ll work.

What do you think about shyness and using clothes to boost it? Let me know!

 

Hello shyness, my old friend

Along with endless mumbling about films, this blog will also be filled with endless mumbling about other stuff. Non-filmy stuff. Sometimes confidence and shyness related stuff, as both of those are issues I’ve dealt with since I was a kid hiding behind whatever inanimate object offered sufficient shelter from the world.

Shyness is one of those character traits that’s endearing in kids and cartoon characters, but not so much in adulthood. When you’re an adult, being shy becomes a significant problem. Your inability to socialise, do your job, even pay for something at a supermarket is diminished when you’re a shy adult, and that makes day-to-day life pretty frustrating.

It also makes it pretty lonely. You feel cut off from the world, and are painfully aware that your isolation is a self-inflicted wound, and that no matter how bad it feels, it’s really not all that bad. After all, it’s not a disease, and it’s not even serious enough to be a disorder, like Social Anxiety Disorder. It’s sorta… in the middle. Neither one thing nor the other, neither a big problem, nor something that can simply be brushed under the rug.

Indeed, shyness can, to a degree, be beaten, but it’s not easy. It’s a long hard learning process – learning how to deal with certain social situations and adapt to them and learning to cope with the set-backs that that learning process inflicts. Like riding a bike really. You’ve gotta skin your knee a few times before you learn how to keep perfect balance.

That’s what I’m doing at the moment – learning, falling over, and skinning my knee. I’ve decided to try and fight the shyness, and while this is a vow I’ve taken several times before (and failed with), it’s worth pulling at the restraints again to see if I get any further. So I’m trying to attend events and do interesting things. I’m even trying to summon the courage to wear a costume to a forthcoming comic con (if wearing a red Elliott-from-E.T. hoodie constitutes a costume). It’ll probably fail, but I suppose it’s worth a try.

I’ll likely write about shyness again at some point – probably in more depth. But that’s it for now. Here’s an amusing stock image that appeared when I searched for ‘shyness’ in Google to sign off.

overcoming-shyness