Friday, July 18, 2008

Helplessly Shy

Being shy is one of the most frustrating experiences. You want to speak to people, you really, truly do - but you just can't. In your head, you're imagining the way a conversation could go, but you can't actually bring yourself to open your mouth and speak. Words won't come out. And if someone looks at you or directs a question at you, you automatically look to one of your friends for help. And you draw a complete blank inside - it's like someone took an eraser and completely wiped your mind clean. You try to grasp at something - anything - to say. And it's not that you feel you have to say something of the utmost importance in order to speak. You're not that pretentious. It's just that you don't like competing with a group to be heard. It's awkward to start speaking and then be interrupted by someone louder.

Being interrupted is not the end of the world, but for someone who uses a lot of effort just to speak up in the first place, it's like being shoved back down. Sometimes it's like no one really listens, anyway.

And in some ways, isn't that true? How often do people really listen to each other? It always seems like everyone is just waiting to say their own piece. I mean, I'm not perfect, I'm guilty of that, as well. But it's all the more discouraging to speak up when you know no one's really interested in what you have to say.

Speaking one on one with someone is different. Unless you let the other person just go off on their own monologue, you have no choice but to speak - and chances are the other person would rather a dialogue than a monologue anyway. But once you get to groups of people, it's way too easy to just hide behind everyone else. You can rely on other people to keep the conversation going and you really don't have to contribute at all. Except that's awful. You want to contribute - otherwise, what's the point in you even being there? And you want so badly to be noticed, but you think way too hard about speaking up and then the moment for speaking slips away.

So is the key to being outgoing not to think?

I hate being shy, I hate being quiet, because really - I'm not that quiet. Ask people who've been with me at times when I'm just being myself. I know how to talk, I know how to be silly, I know how to be myself. I'm smart, I have opinions, and I've spoken my mind before. It's just that it's so hard for that side of me to come out sometimes.

I wish I knew the trick to getting over this. I detest being so painfully shy. No one will ever know me or think twice about me. It's like I'm digging my own way into a life of invisibility. I want to get out. I just don't know how.


Diana said...

Try this

Daphne said...

I don't think of you as helplessly shy. Perhaps I've never been with you in large crowds, but if its just large crowds that get you tongue-tied, that’s not called being helplessly shy; that’s just being crowd shy. A truly shy person (and I know because I used to be one), is scared to talk to anyone and everyone. You certainly weren't scared to talk to me when we first met. And I've seen you with crowds in school and at home with shabbos guests. You never struck me as shy or quiet. Now perhaps you're scared of large crowds of people you don't know, but to be perfectly honest - I think almost everyone feels more intimidated in large crowds that they don't know. That doesn't mean that you can't work on feeling more comfortable in crowds, but I think your being a little hard on yourself Erachet!
The best way to get over shyness (well actually, the only way) is to talk to people. Go out of your way to talk to people - as many as possible, and the more you do, the more you realize that people aren’t that scary. Expose yourself to crowds, and force yourself to speak out. Maybe you'll start to realize that people do want to hear what you have to say after all.

StillinShidduchim said...

Great post. I've found three keys to overcoming shyness: 1. confidence in yourself 2. dating 3. real life. :-)