When you’re a kid and you’re shy, it’s normal. And at times, it’s even considered as cute to a certain extent. But this isn’t necessarily the case when you grow up. It can be misinterpreted as being rude because you’re seen as “unfriendly” and “arrogant”.
What is shyness?
The term “shy” as most people would define generally means someone that is timid and can be nervous and closed in the company of other people. In other words, it’s an unpleasant feeling of self-consciousness which cases in the lack of confidence in oneself.
It makes sense, especially when it happens to me all the time when I’m in a new social situation. Most people would think that you grow out of your shyness as you get older. Although that may invoke the truth, however I think that not everyone is able to really grow out of it. And, I generally believe that we really should discuss about.
Aside from the trending #GrowingUpShy tweets back in 2015 and 2016, shyness isn’t something one should look lightly upon. One may not be easily changed in personality from being shy to someone who has the ability to socialise with no problem. Furthermore, it can be so severe that it may root out and become one of the factors in developing serious mental illness such as depression and social anxiety disorder.
I’m saying this based on a personal experience. I’ve always been shy. When I was little, I would hide in the other room whenever my parents had company and refused to talk to strangers. Not. A. Single. Word. Talking terrified me, I’d go red in the face and stutter. Many has also told me that I look intimidating or stuck-up just because I am shy but in reality, I’m just afraid. Eventually, I started building this imaginary world in my head where I’m just confident and outgoing, and imagining things that could’ve gone right if I just had the nerve to talk.
People who lack confidence all share one thing in common, and I would know because I was one of them:
They live in their head. So much so, that they can’t even hear what the other person is actually saying.Cole, 2017
What exactly causes shyness?
It’s simple, judgemental people. No one likes to be judged and that’s a fact regardless whether or not you’re shy, but everyone takes it differently. Back when I was in kindergarten, I refused to talk to the kindergarten teacher and that probably really annoyed her. She met up with my parents and asked them whether I was deaf or mute. Even though it’s more complicated than that, but from that moment, that made me think that being quiet was wrong and talking slowly felt like a “burden” to me.
“Why you so quiet?”
“Why you so shy?”
Speaking on behalf of introverts, to some of us, these are some classic phrases that we’ve heard a lot of time. Yes, we’re aware that we tend to be quiet because we are shy, and honestly, we will keep being that way. It won’t change—there’s an even less chance of speaking up after someone pointed that out about us, we feel pressured on top of feeling embarrassed because of how we are.
Some of body languages of the people who are shy or someone who is an introvert:
- Avoiding eye contact;
- Staying quiet after responding to someone as they have no ability on maintaining a conversation;
- Tend to stay in the background/avoid being among big groups that they don’t know;
It’s not like I want to be this way, sometimes I hate myself for being so shy but changing is easier said than done.
Difference being shy and being an introvert
Most shy people would be introverts (there are shy extroverts too) but being an introvert does not mean that you are shy. They’re related in a sense that both tend to be alone and quiet, but the major difference between the two is that introverts avoid social situations because they enjoy being alone and they gain energy from spending time alone while a shy person fears those social situations.
I like to look at introversion as a personality trait and shyness as a phobia. Well, I am both. After taking on a full day of nervousness from talking, being alone is certainly what I would need. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t talk to shy people just because they have a fear for social situations, instead go ahead and talk your hearts out with them. They might not answer you much at the beginning, but they certainly are listening and are interested. And once they’ve warmed up to you, get ready to see a whole different person.
Thus, being shy is certainly not easy. In fact, it gets really tiring because it becomes a fight with yourself. However, I’ve definitely gotten better at talking to others. But I would occasionally still try to avoid eye contact and run away whenever I encounter another person. The chances of someone seeing me at events such as Freshers Week or anything of that sort would still be really low but I’m trying.
To fellow shy people out there: If you’re feeling pressured to change, stop.
Don’t change for others, instead change for yourself. Go at your own pace. You don’t necessarily need to grow out of shyness, you can grow into it.
Written by Alysha Bujang
Views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the position of UNM IGNITE.