I remember my first day of school like it was yesterday. My father had helped me get ready for the big day because my mom was in the hospital sick and pregnant with my brother. If I close my eyes, I can actually picture my dad racing around the house like a bat out of hell, trying to find different parts of my wardrobe, trying to pack my lunch, phone in hand with my mother giving him instructions on the other end, and I sat quietly at the bottom of the stairs, shivering with terror. I had spent every single day of my life attached to my mother’s leg, and now, not only was I about to go off to school, to be with a bunch of kids I had never met, with new authority figures, but there was about to be a new little human being in the house. It was all a bit much to bear.
All of a sudden, I went from being this bubbly, outspoken little five year old, to a painfully shy little girl who took a good long time to step out of her shell. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer through my shyness into my adulthood, although, I still consider myself to be a bit of a hermit. But being a conscious recluse and being someone who is painfully shy, are two completely different things. There were still situations that made me feel unsure and nervous, like being in a crowded rooms, or being in front of a large group of people, but I learned, over the years, to cope with those nervous feelings, enough so that I could be a productive and contributive member of society. If you suffer from shyness, here are are a few steps that you should consider taking:
1) Find out what your triggers are
This was sort of difficult for me, because at first, I felt like everything made me feel uneasy. But after a while, and some careful observations, I was able to determine specific situations that I ended up in that made me feel more anxious than others. For me, being in a classroom setting and participating in a discussion was definitely a trigger for me. Sometimes I would feel like I was being interrogated by a CIA agent when the professor questioned me, and I used to break out into hives! Eventually I learned to overcome it by finding my voice. I had a constant internal dialogue with myself, reminding myself that I was an accomplished college student, I knew the material, I could do this!
2) Find activities that you’re good at
People who are shy often feel like they’re not good at anything, which is entirely untrue. So get out there and find something that you’re good at, whether it’s photography, painting, rock climbing, whatever, it doesn’t matter. We all have a series of things that we’re good at, and when we’re successful at something, we feel good about it, and that feeling spills over into the rest of our lives.
3) Learn to make eye contact and smile
If you can’t learn to look people in the eye, you’re never going to get over your shy factor. Just ask yourself, what’s the worst that will happen if you look at someone in the face? And what’s the worst that can happen if you smile? They smile back?? Oh no! Sounds like risky business to me! Shy people have a Fort Knox-like wall around themselves, and if they hope to get any success in the confidence department, you’re going to have to take some risks, and put yourself out there. Trust me, it’s worth it!