Battling shyness was the biggest challenge of my young life. I have grown so much over the years, but I’m still amazed whenever I make a crowd of people laugh. I’m still an introvert at heart, but I don’t think I’m shy anymore.
There’s a big difference between an introvert and a shy person. An introvert is someone who likes solitude. Liking solitude doesn’t mean hating people. It means that quiet moments are valued because they relax and rejuvenate the introvert. On the other hand, a shy person is someone who experiences silence as agony. Silence is not a chosen haven but a prison coerced by insecurities and doubt.
Overcoming shyness is possible. Start by recognizing the unproductive mental processes that goes on in your mind, understand that your prison is not well-built, then plot for your epic escape.
1. Fear of saying something stupid
What if my observation isn’t good enough? What if my insight is laughable? So many questions about the quality of the thoughts in one’s head hinders the shy person from speaking up.
Through experience, I realized that saying something stupid is not such a big deal. You can always cancel it out by saying something smart. Saying something smart is hard, so what you have to do is practice. Keep saying something until you say something smart. Speaking is like bowling. If you increase the number of times you throw the ball, then you’ll have a higher chance of hitting all the pins.
2. Can’t think of related kwento or info
A shy person is overly worried about whether what she’s going to say is related to the current topic of the conversation. She will rack her brain for memories, but somehow she will find it hard to think of a similar experience that she can share.
Take your time to get used to the fast paced rhythm of conversations. It’s ok that you can’t whip up interesting anecdotes at the drop of a hat. Racing through thoughts and memories will drain you, so just listen, relax, and ideas will come to you.
3. No reaction fear
The shy person is immensely afraid of silences especially after she makes a joke. What she has to realize is that in every conversation there will always be a comment that will garner dead silence. This is normal. It’s no big deal. It happens to everyone.
4. Overestimating people’s memory
A shy person thinks that everyone will remember what she says, and they’ll remember her comment for all eternity. In reality, people easily forget things. Heck some people even forget historically significant events. Even if you make a mistake, people’s short-term memories will automatically erase that mistake as though it did not happen.
5. Mental editing
A shy person is always second guessing the thoughts in her head. Like a blocked artist, she’s bent on revision instead of expression, so thoughts are in a constant state of limbo and are never spoken.
Just say it. If you realize you’re wrong, then you can say another thing to correct your mistake. You will never know if you’re wrong if you don’t speak. You might even be pleasantly surprised to discover that you were hoarding brilliant thoughts in your head.
6. Not quick enough to interject
Conversations are in constant flux, so continuous mental editing will make the shy person miss the window of opportunity for interjection. Someone will say something, and the conversation will move on, so the shy person’s kwento will no longer be relevant given the current topic of conversation.
This is especially disheartening because she probably thought long and hard to come up with that kwento, was proud that she actually thought of something, had quickly but thoroughly edited it in her head, deemed it fit after it passed several re-evaluations regarding whether it was worth sharing or not, was praying that other people’s comments about this topic will be sustained until all of these re-evaluations have been executed, but at the end of all of this, someone talked about something different, she wasn’t quick enough to share her brilliant idea.
Cut short the madness in your head, and be a fearless interjector. Edit out the crazy instead of the thoughts. Speak up, and say your kwento. You can also revert the conversation back to the topic of interest if your interjection came in late. That is possible. That is acceptable. Do it.
7. Imagined conversations
After an unsatisfying conversation, a shy person daydreams about the conversation she had and re-imagines it. In her fantasy, she speaks up, makes a witty remark, or a hilarious joke. Stop living in dreams and create your own satisfying reality. Make jokes, laugh at your own failed jokes, and let people see that fun side of you.
8. Hating awkwardness
Accepting awkwardness and regarding it as charming instead of shameful is an important step to break out from one’s shyness. Being weird is ok. Weird can mean unique. You just have to own it and say, Hey, this is me, and I’m weirdly awesome!
For more weird kid stories, check out these links:
- A Shy Person’s Top 8 Worries and Fears
- Ja’s Weird Childhood Games
- Ja’s Weird Childhood Games (Part 2)
- Ja’s Weird Fears (past and present)
- Little Ja’s First Cooking Class
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