When I was three years old, I was “diagnosed” as shy. In pre-school my mom was called to my teacher’s office where they had a long discussion about how I wouldn’t participate in class sing alongs, and how I only had one friend, (my best friend) Josh. My mom, being the first time mom that she was, became alarmed that something was wrong with me. Yet, luckily, as my mom exited that meeting a caring teacher’s assistant pulled my mom aside. She told her that, yes I was a shy kid, but that she could tell I was very smart. I observed everything that went on in class and knew the names of every one of my classmates, and the words to every song we sang. I didn’t participate outwardly, but I participated through observation and reflection. This made sense to my mom because when she picked me up from school each afternoon, I wouldn’t stop talking to her about every little detail of my day the entire way home. Clearly, I didn’t have an attention deficit problem.
When I was growing up, “shy” or “introverted” were all negative characteristics to be avoided. In high school and college, no one wanted to own up to being shy; at least no one in my group of friends. Everyone was selling their souls to be POPULAR! Luckily, I played sports or I would’ve been screwed in high school. In the working world, the last thing a job interviewer wants to hear is, “The best word to describe myself is shy.” At work, we are rewarded for aggressiveness, and we are invisible if we are passive. While shyness and passivity aren’t one in the same, they are in similar camps.
Even at my wedding, I struggled with accepting the fact that I only have a couple of really good, close friends. I have no sisters. I am not close to my female cousins who live far away. Why would I add two or three casual friends to my bridal party just for the sake of looking like I have a large friend circle? It all roots back to shyness, and in some ways, always longing to be boisterous and outgoing. But I am proud of myself that, for one of the first times in my life, I didn’t crap out and do something just to maintain social appearances. These are my close FRIENDS. There aren’t many of them. Take it or leave it, you judgmental jerks that I didn’t even want at my wedding!
Being naturally shy can be a major hurdle. I have fought (and continue to fight) day after day to deal with my social shyness. I say “social” because for people who know me really well, they know that “shy” is pretty much the last word to describe me. I am bashful to the outside world, because I like to take the backseat and observe. I have a lot going on in my head that I don’t say out loud. I feel drained by socializing, rather than energized. I don’t need a black book of 200 people I hardly know, but call my friends, to make me feel better. BUT, it is still something I struggle with from time to time.
I have noticed a number of my blog friends, either through Formspring or their own blogs, describing themselves as shy. I personally think that’s great. This post only glimpses the road I have taken to understanding my reserved nature. But to all of you who continue to own up to the fact that you may not be the loudest one in the room, thank you. You have all proven that you have so, SO much to offer, and that “shy” is a word that can be thought of positively and respectfully. Your honesty has helped me tremendously. THANK YOU.And thank you to my husband who, at times, can be the loudest person in the room, and who brings me snacks while I sit away from the crowd gossiping with a friend, and watching him get a high off of socializing.
So the million dollar question – are you shy? Feel free to share.