Thursday, July 09, 2009

Shy Like Me

Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people. - André Dubuson

I've always been shy. It's as much a part of me as breathing. I was extremely shy as a child and when I grew into a young woman I lost a level of extreme shyness, but it is still here, just barely visible on the surface.

Growing up, I used to hate being shy and quiet. I felt like it was a bad quality or trait to possess. I always felt like I was missing out on something special by being reserved. I longed to be the life of the party, the belle of the ball or simply have the ability to capture the attention of a crowd of people who hung onto my every word. And of course, the boys that fascinated me the most were the ones who were popular and outgoing.

Over the years, people have mistaken my shyness for standoffishness, aloofness and snobbishness---it never crossed anyone's mind that I was simply quiet. My reserved nature made them unwilling to get to know me.

As a child, writing in my trusted diary and later journaling as an adult were my methods of expressing myself. What I couldn't express verbally, I expressed on paper. I still have the ability to place on paper my most passionate, personal thoughts and feelings...it always liberates me somehow.

I always thought it was strange that I was blessed with a good speaking voice (at least I've been told) and yet I was shy. All though school, my teachers and professors were constantly encouraging me to participate in public speaking competitions/events. And I complied and enjoyed them thoroughly. I even placed at these events. No one ever knew that those first three minutes in front of an audience were the most frightening for me. After that I was always okay. Even today that is one of the most difficult parts of being an author, the public speaking aspect. However, I find that after those first three minutes I'm fine and can talk to you from now to eternity about the joys and lows of being an author.

Even now I still consider myself somewhat shy or maybe just quiet is a better word, even though my family and friends would totally disagree. When I'm comfortable with a person my layers tend to fall away. There are actually two sides to me and depending on what role you play in my life, you may have only witnessed one or the other.

I've morphed into something quite curious. I often wonder how one can be shy, quiet, outspoken, opinionated and fiery. . . that's me all rolled up into one. If I'm passionate about something or someone, I can't be quiet---it's like I'm compelled to project it to the world. I'm very outspoken. I have strong opinions---we just have to agree to disagree, after we have debated the topic to exhaustion. Oh, I'm definitely fiery and sassy (just ask my husband) and sometimes I am too real for my own good. I tend to tell it like it is.

Yet when you break it all down, I'm usually the quiet, observant one who simply soaks up life and my surroundings like a sponge. And. . . get this, I've found that you don't have to be the life of the party to capture people's attention. I find there is something magnetic that draws people to a quiet aura; a pull that attracts them to my quiet spirit.

I finally realized that being shy is not so bad after all. Sometimes being shy helps you to see and appreciate the world through a whole nother set of eyes. Sometimes the best observations are made through silence, by simply listening.

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