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Dear Shy People
Dear shy people,
Who are you?
What makes you you? Your dreams, your thoughts, the things that make you happy and the things that make you mad: how would you define yourself other than shy?
Ask yourself this when you think you can’t do the same things as easily as someone else, because you get so scared of being around others that you feel like you can’t breathe, that you can't stand straight.
Tell yourself: your shyness should not limit you from what your life holds; it does not own you. It is a tiny speck of the many great, extraordinary things you are, so don’t let your fear take control of what you want.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to express yourself. You deserve to feel free and feel comfortable in your own skin, but I know that even when I say this to myself, my shyness gets the best of me again and again because it is easier to succumb to your fears than face it.
My shyness makes me scared of what I can do. It makes me doubt myself and my ability to live.
It feels like everyday, I am waiting for things to change. My mind’s a mess, all jumbled up, desperate and confused; when I want to go out with friends, in the end I don’t. The thought of making conversation whenever an awkward silence falls is enough to make me cancel whatever plans I had, but somewhere deep down, it’s the thought of “what if I had…” that leaves me feeling like an idiot for not taking a chance.
Being shy makes the littlest things into your greatest nightmares; school is one of them. I’ll tell my mom that I feel sick, but she won’t take it. I walk in, and then I’ll want to walk right back out. Some days are worse; I’ll see a large group of people blocking the large stairs, and I can’t move because I know when I walk past these people, there will be another group of people that I’ll have to squeeze through. The idea of it make me turn back and walk the long way near the baseball field to get to my lower classes.
My shyness makes me vulnerable.
Saying “Here” when a substitute calls roll-call is terrifying; I practice under my breath about five times in five different tones of “Here” before the sub calls my name. And ice-breakers are worse -- the teacher gives you five minutes to introduce yourself to your “partner” next to you, and all you say is your name, how many family members you have, whether you have a pet or not, and your favorite television show. You finish your conversation in 30 seconds, and your partner leaves their seat to talk to someone they actually know, so you look at the board until the timer rings.
When I’m unsure of what to do, it sends this gnawing feeling to my stomach.
But those things aren’t what make me wish I wasn’t me for a moment; they aren’t what make me hate being shy. The days you and I truly hurt are the days we feel most weak; it’s our lowest points that we have to encounter over and over again. For me, it’s presentations that send me to a downward spiral. I see people practicing to perfect their words and memorizing their lines, and I’m working on how to speak without having my voice tremble. I go on all those online articles from unknown health websites saying, “How to Overcome Shyness” or “Ten Ways to Beat That Shy Out of Your Life!” I don’t want it to end up like the last presentation because that time, I was visibly shaking from my legs to my throat; my paper was being crumpled from the force of my grip, and I couldn’t face my classmates anymore from humiliation because now they were glancing back at me to the teacher to see how many points I was going to get knocked off.
I hated it; I hated all of it. The me whose hands itched to take off the seven black bobby pins digging into my scalp, the me whose mind couldn’t think straight from the tightness of my ponytail, the me who wanted to walk out that door and run far, far away from everyone in that room, the me who got in the running shower right when I got home and scrubbed my skin faster and faster until there was a long streak of red along my arms and legs -- at that moment, I had never hated someone as much as I had hated myself. Pathetic. Small. Tired.
That is what fear does to you. When you're not looking, it creeps up on you and swallows you up until you are nothing. You are left vulnerable and afraid and looking for someone or something to blame. You do not feel like you.
My shyness is the reason I hesitate going into a classroom. It is the reason why I stay quiet at a table and say nothing at a discussion. It is why I fear my own words and my own opinions; it’s what makes me feel rotten in my insides and uncomfortable in my own skin. Shyness: it’s something that holds me back. And that’s the problem -- it shouldn’t do that.
You can’t blame your shyness on everything, but I do. Some days are so bad that you can’t even pretend that the shyness is the reason for all your problems. You cannot blame something that doesn’t exist; you can’t yell at it; you can’t throw things at it; you can’t scream at it; and the only thing you can make feel guilty is you because you’re the one being shy. Shyness is something that is inside you, and it’s not like you can just take it out, so you start to hate yourself for blubbering out in front of everyone or being in the background once again because you’re afraid to speak. You think of yourself as less, but you shouldn’t think that.
So, dear shy people,
You seem to know your limitations better than you know your worth, so let me tell you what you are worthy of. You are worthy of all the goodness in the world, and you are worthy of feeling confident in who you are and what you do. Believe it or not, your shyness does not own you, and if you pick yourself up after every failure, every embarrassment, and every disappointment, you find happiness.
You’ll meet bad people and good people, but the best people are out there, waiting for you. And whether it’s one person or five who become your closest friends, it’s them who should encourage you when you’re feeling down; they should not criticize your self-confidence and make you feel less of a person.
If you try and try, maybe you won’t be able to throw away that shy part of you, but you’ll learn to control it because you are you, and your shyness should not be an excuse for all the opportunities lost in your life.
You have the right to be happy; don’t let shyness take that away from you like it does for me.
Sincerely, someone like you