Don’t talk to me. No seriously, don’t. Because if you even deign it appropriate to direct a communication at me, then I will redden beyond belief. I will start, hopefully imperceptibly, shaking and I will have to resist retreating somewhat. And whatever you do, don’t ask me to answer in public. If you do need to ask me something, then please don’t expect anything particularly coherent as a response.
Don’t ask me to go and order something at the bar. It won’t end well. I’ll be the one who moves forward and back with the flow and ebb of the crowd and will be embarrassed when someone signals it’s my turn to actually ask for a drink and then pay for it. For all the time I’ll have queued and dodged service, I’ll have repeated your order and mine continuously in my head, whilst also checking how other people do it. I won’t check the change and I’ll have to rush back to the table before my shaking hands erupt half the contents onto the floor….
I was a timid soul once but not always. I think it was borne of landing in western culture as an outsider but I couldn’t tell you for sure. All I can tell you is that I am glad that it’s gone.
Yes, I still get nervous before any social gathering, but not so much that I have to do my eye makeup two hours before I leave the house. Yes, I still try to avoid standing out in any way, but I’m okay with attention. You see, for a shy girl, I ended up working in pretty courageous lands of teaching and marketing. And it taught me a lot. It taught me the difference between shyness and introversion.
Today I realised that I can converse readily with most. That most now look at me a little confused when I state I’m shy. I no longer wish walls to absorb me or grounds to swallow. Today I don’t mind if my laugh rings across a floor. I will never be an MC or a karaoke star, but then I’ve no wish to be. But finally I’m not making excuses for existing or placing everyone else as more important. I’m not silently begging to be ignored and then craving connection.
Today I can hold my own space and I can feel the power that comes with that. And I’m excited. Because, as a visible person amongst others, suddenly others’ successes mark things for which I can strive too. Their passions are now something with which I can collaborate, and their problems are something which I can offer to help solve. Life suddenly expands infinitely and the world becomes a playground. And what a beautiful playground at that!
I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth.
– Daphne du Maurier