Tag Archives: Shyness

Thinking About Shyness


I was a painfully shy kid. One of the earliest examples I can give comes from a kinder experience. We were rehearsing for a Christmas play for the first time and I was allocated to the red group. There was a frog, fairy, yellow and red group. I, of course, wanted to be a fairy being the girly-girl I am but plain, boring red it was for me; at least it was better than yellow, which is my least favourite colour.

The second time we rehearsed the play, my teacher asked me if I was in the red or yellow group. I didn’t say anything because of my shyness; I rarely spoke up to people who weren’t my family. I knew full well that I was in the red group and that I wanted to be in the red group, but I feigned that I didn’t remember and the teacher put me in the yellow group. I wasn’t very happy about this but this just shows the level of shyness I had as a kid. I didn’t speak up when I knew the answer to a question, and I didn’t even speak up when it would mean I’d get something I wanted.

It’s a common symptom of not speaking up: not getting what you want. When I ask people what they want, it frustrates me when they’re all polite and won’t say what they really want. If I ask what you want, I really want to know what you want. But I can’t blame them when I still fall into silence at times and don’t let people know what I really want.

I’m a lot better at speaking up for myself as an adult, and I think part of the reason is because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a person who won’t speak up. You feel for the person but at the same time you almost want to shake them to make them speak up; you want them to speak up for their own good. Seriously, so much self-torture can be avoided if you just speak up.

If it matters to you, speak up. If someone is asking because they care about you, they will want to know your answer and do what they can to help you get what you want.

Perhaps the best example of my shyness as a kid comes from my visits to the milk bar down the street with my dad. Tony, the milk bar owner was a friendly guy and he’d say hello to us. Dad would always tell me to say hello to him but I never did; I was too shy to open my mouth. It would always frustrate my dad and one day he was so angry about it that he said I couldn’t have the packet of jelly beans he’d bought me at the milk bar until I said the word hello.

Now, any normal kid would just say hello but not me. I went to bed that night stressing over how I would get those jelly beans. I resolved that the next morning I’d say hello by simply saying it to dad when I saw him as though it wasn’t a calculated plan but a simple greeting.

So the next morning I put my plan into action except it didn’t work. I couldn’t bring myself to say the word hello and I ended up yelling “Hi.” I made up for my lack of hello by yelling hi to each family member and finishing with a, “Hi everyone!” They must have all thought I was nuts. I did!

Eventually, dad just told me to say hello and he’d give me the jelly beans, and so I grudgingly said hello and got my prize.

Now when I think back on this, I wonder why I was so shy. Was it actually shyness? Because I knew in my head there was nothing wrong with saying hello or speaking up in general. What I hated, though, was what my family would think of me if I spoke up. I don’t get it. They thought poorly of me when I didn’t speak up and I knew they’d think better of me if I did speak up; so why did I never speak up? What was my problem?

I’m still not sure to this day, and there are occasions even now when I won’t speak up for fear of what people will think of me. And in these types of situations, I’m never worried what the person receiving my words will think; it’s the people watching me, expecting me to say something, that has me worried. I didn’t care what Tony thought; I cared what my dad thought. But what am I afraid of? That they’ll think I’m a well-spoken person? That I’m normal and speak just like anyone else does? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

One of the areas I struggled in besides saying hello and good-bye to people was being served at a restaurant. If I sat with my family, I would always feel so uncomfortable when the waiter asked for our orders and gave us our food and drinks. I could never say, “Thank-you.” Mum would tell me it’s polite to say thank-you and expect me to say it. I rarely did and the times I did, it was so very awkward and I wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out.

Now why was that so hard for me to do for years? I’m very conscious of it even now when I go to a restaurant. I always say thank-you now and can do it with friends easily, but when I’m with family, it still feels awkward. It’s like all I can think about is what my family is thinking of me. They’re probably not even giving it a second thought since who makes a point of noticing when someone says thank-you to a waiter? But for me, I am incredibly conscious of it.

This is one area I don’t quite understand about myself. It doesn’t seem logical at all. I’d love to know an explanation for my strange thoughts and behaviour. All I can work out is that it has something to do with the expectation. If my family didn’t expect me to say hello, good-bye and thank-you, maybe I would have just done it because there was nothing attached to it, no pressure.

I’m not sure if this fully explains it, though, because usually I live up to expectations. Usually I’m so busy trying to find out what’s expected of me so I know how to behave and if I get no cues, I feel lost. So why then did I not live up to expectations in the case of hello’s, good-byes and thank-you’s? Why did I struggle with it so much?



ImageThose that tend toward introversion – often confused with shy individuals – face a number of difficulties (or challenges) each day.  Many can circumvent the issues, sometimes more easily than other times.  The following article addresses some of the more important considerations, especially as psychiatric entities attempt to pathologize introversion, shyness…One can certainly be pleased that this topic is being talked about more openly now…in the news, in professional journals…




Shyness – fascinating essay on this topic – that will make a connection with many that remain concerned about their place in our world...

The essay also touches on the psychological community’s need to pathologize – rather than forming an understanding of others…. (See also Joe Moran’s blog –http://joemoransblog.blogspot.com/ )


You can go from one place to another. Personal account of someone who did


From the blog: GROW UP PROPER

In kyokushin karate there is a saying about becoming a master. It is said that in order to reach mastery you must climb the mountain, reach the top and then climb back down on the other side. The mountain is a muddy one. If you linger in one place for too long you will start to slide back down.

In self development that mountain stands between you and the person you want to be. The climb up will be a difficult one. The mud will constantly try to drag you down to where you came from. As you close in on the top, the mud will start to lose its grip and slowly let you go. At the top you stand on your own. You can go for the other side or go back to where you came from. You can see clearly what awaits you on each side. As you descend the path of your choice you notice that the mud has once again grabbed hold of you. But this time it is dragging you down to where you want to go. Your descent to greatness takes speed. It slowly becomes effortless. You reach your goal.

So how would such a journey look like in real life? Here’s a little story from my life:

I was born introverted. My childhood made me shy. I never had that many friends; the concept of best http://pinterest.com/pin/56717276530212641/ is still foreign to me. For the first 17 years of my life I found myself happier alone than in the presence of other people. I wanted to join them, I just didn’t know how. In order to protect myself from people I’d rather not mention I decided to join a karate class. For the first time I belonged to a group which was slowly starting to accept me.

In the months that followed I began to go out with them. It was awkward as hell at first, didn’t seem to get any easier. I had several short nervous breakdowns out of pure frustration. I would often get home feeling as if a truck had run over me. What annoyed me the most was that even thought I would be with friends, I couldn’t express myself. I couldn’t think of anything to say and even when something came up I just said it to myself. I knew that wasn’t me. In my neighborhood I was the loudest guy on the block. I never ran out of things to say, I didn’t feel any pressure whatsoever. In this new group (or any other new groups for that matter) I simply shut down.

One night, we were out at a bar. It was karaoke night, but nobody volunteered to sing so we sat down at a table and began chitchatting.  I found myself sweating and shivering for no reason. I couldn’t keep eye contact with anyone (though that wasn’t anything new back then). Opening my mouth was out of the question. I got home feeling like my head was collapsing in on itself. That night I literally “interviewed” everybody I could find online to try and figure out how normal people thought. The next day everybody was whispering behind my back (I think they figured out I broke down).

The only bright side to these breakdowns was that, after each one, things seemed to improve. I gained more self control; I became immune to the situations which caused them. I was slowly climbing up.

After a while I stopped having them. I began to relax in my social groups. It was still a pain to talk sometimes, but nothing serious. I still felt the need to be alone after too much socializing, but even that started to fade away.

I reached the top of the mountain. I began to climb down the other side. The awkward feeling in my gut and the excessive self consciousness popped up rarer and rarer. I still couldn’t find anything to say, but it wasn’t due to any feeling, but simply due to my lack of experience in the art of fooling around.


These day I have no problem with going out!

These days the negative feelings related to socializing are pretty much gone. And whenever they resurface I just brush them aside. I can’t say I’m an expert conversationalist, I’m a long way from that; but now I can say whatever I want, whenever I want to. I can laugh out loud for the whole world to hear. I can speak my mind in the middle of a bus full of people and watch them stare at me. I can look someone straight in the eyes. I can instruct a class of kids in the art of kyokushin karate. And these days, even though I do need my alone time I also need my social time. If a couple days go by without talking to people, I lose focus and energy; I feel the need for connection. I’m on the other side of the mountain. The mud won’t let me climb back up.

“But what if I don’t have some major issue in need of fixing? What if I kind of like how I am? Sure there are things to be improved, but it’s not that bad. One must accept his qualities as well as his flaws, right?”

Well, if you need more convincing, here are 2 reasons for which you might want to improve your personality:

One: Because the side of the mountain you’re on is just plain unpleasant. Do you like the situations your flaws are throwing you in? Why not correct them? Allowing your flaws to remain as part of your personality is like allowing your dogs’ poop to decorate your living room. You might have poop in the middle of your home, but for god’s sake, don’t leave it there!

And two: Because on the other side of the mountain the sun shines so much brighter. You might be ok with how loving, outgoing, happy you are, but just imagine how you would feel like if you took the time to improve yourself, who you would become, what you could accomplish. If you’re not good at imagining stuff then read the autobiography of someone you admire. Compare your personality to theirs. Whatever they accomplished you can too, once you’ve built yourself a similar mentality.