The Feathered Hopes of a Shy Girl This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 10, 2011
You know, I can’t stand it when people think they understand what shyness truly is. They’ve never had to endure the burning throat, dry mouth, and pounding heart that strangle and chain you nearly every time you try to talk. That’s how it’s always been for my closest friend, Chace. She’s indescribably shy, so shy that she barely speaks louder than a whisper and is often seen as an introverted loner by her judgmental, conforming peers. Chace isn’t stupid, though. She knows that all her popular, “preppy” classmates, who will never understand the demons that she faces, gleefully gossip and circulate rumors about her. Yet she doesn’t care at all; she’s remarkably adept at ignoring superficial and shallow opinions.

But they don’t know the other side of her. They don’t know that the timid, pacifist shell she hides behind conceals a passionate and powerful writer. That’s because she expresses herself best with written words; for her, words flow from pen to paper much more easily than vocal cords to lips. The majority of her personal papers don’t just skim the surface of her character; rather, they dig deeper and expose the otherwise hidden clockwork of a shy girl’s mind.

I didn’t find out about her writer’s soul until she asked me to proofread one of her English essays. After the first paragraph, I’d gaped at the words, the inked squiggles that seemed to leap out of their backdrop of starch-white paper and punch me in the face. Somehow, she’d managed to master the art of writing and produce a shockingly, brutally honest paper that admitted truths she’d never say out loud. Truths like how much she hated conformity; how she noticed girls were so much more discriminatory of her than boy; how she hated it when people used the term “painfully shy.” In that moment, I saw that even I, her best friend, was blind. How could I not have realized Chace was hiding such a powerful weapon, one that could compensate for her shyness?

“Chace,” I demanded, still in shock, “you do realize that you’ve practically got a masterpiece right here? Why are you even asking me to proofread it?”

She shrugged, suddenly finding the tips of her sneakers extremely interesting. Refusing to meet my gaze, she muttered, “I thought you could at least look for grammatical errors. Remember, nothing’s perfect.”

I’d raised an eyebrow at that statement, but didn't pursue the topic any further for the moment. Instead, I took it upon myself to help her. Subtly slipped the words “publish,” “literary magazine,” and “school newspaper” into our conversations.

She resisted at first, not wanting to share her thoughts with the rest of the world; she was still shy and modest Chace. “No,” she grumbled firmly. “There’s no need for everyone to know that I love to write.”

But I was stubborn. I encouraged her, praised and criticized her works of art, and tried to be as honest as her own heart. Slowly, carefully, I tugged her out of her shell. And in front of my very eyes, like an uncertain spring blossom, she spread her petals and bloomed. Both she and I knew she’d never shed her shyness, but at the very least, she finally acknowledged she’d have to fight it and accept the consequences.

If possible, her writing became even more passionate. Because now she had a purpose. She wasn't just writing to unburden her heart; now she was writing to show the world that shy people weren't mute automatons incapable of speaking or expressing themselves.

When the criticism came, we were expecting it. The offhand remarks like “This stupid girl doesn’t know what she’s saying,” “She can’t even talk properly; there’s no way she wrote this,” and “She’s just trying to make the rest of us look bad. Damn smart girl.” But for us, those ignorant, harsh words were meaningless—what was done was done. The damage had been wrought, the war already waged, and the past couldn't be changed.

Chace shrugged off the sneering remarks and degrading smirks while humbly enduring the teachers’ praise. I'd grinned at her fiery determination, her silent courage that had started out as a flickering ember but finally burst into a blazing fire.

Chace has finally come to terms with the fact that she’s irrevocably shy. But in the end, she told me one day that “If I could go back and change my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Frankly, she couldn’t care less about what conformists think about her, because in her eyes, they’ve blinded themselves and can only see one side of who she truly is. She knows that her tapestry of dreams is woven from the drab and colorful threads of words, individuality, and shyness. Because of this, once most teenage girls learn that she has absolutely no interest whatsoever in gossip and conformity, they automatically label her as a loner. Yet she’s accepted that her flaws and imperfections are nothing more than an essential part of who she is, no matter how hard other people might try to ignore or change that.

And I’ve never been more proud of anyone.

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PepperMint101 said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Oh. My. God. 

This is an incredible piece of writing! I can relate to it because I am pretty quiet too but not as much as Chace. So so powerful. Truly inspiring! LOVE <3

Keep writing. I think it's ur thing (;

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