How I Was Able To Beat Shyness.

 Shyness...I learned, is not something you GROW OUT OF.......

or medicate out of.

Shyness, I learned, is an issue that is not resolved by nature or external factors as medication.  The solution involves personal inner-growth requiring dedication and action of simple social-building steps from the individual to mentally and emotionally guide the individual to progress out of the state of shyness and into a more sociable existence. 

Shyness for the most part, is a psychological developmental snag that requires the learning of basic confidence-building steps of interactions with known acquaintances, as well as, strangers.  Partaking in simple exercises of gradual interactions with others can yield great results, quickly.

Kids and young teens are most prone to social anxiety as they are still learning communication and social skills but with some adult attention and guidance, new skills and the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment can quickly transition a shy kid or teen into a more confident, communicative person.  

As a kid, I was always shy.  I remember my mom explaining to others that I was shy and later she would explain  to me,  that this was something I would simply grow out of.  

So, I waited.....
and I grew....
but still remained shy into my teenage years.  

Shyness is an emotionally painful issue for those trapped in the bondage of isolation and silence.   I do believe as human beings, we all need human interaction with others outside of home and family.   We may all have different levels of how much socializing we enjoy and need but for the most part, my core belief is that people are more fulfilled in life by having positive interactions with others, than being alone; positive human interaction is a critical key to happiness.  
As we move past our obstacles, I  find it amazing, as human beings,  how malleable we are.  Once we can achieve success to overcome an obstacle, once we are transformed, how we can easily forget the struggle that once consumed us.   As an adult,  I had completely forgotten all about my shy past,  until recently, I came upon a person's painful experience of being shy.  As I read this person's first hand account, I was immediately transported back into past suddenly opened up from the depths of my mind, the all but forgotten pain, insecurity and loneliness of a girl who was once plagued by ACUTE SHYNESS came crashing back to me.

Being who I am today, to look back on my incredibly shy past,  it now seems like a lifetime ago, lived from another world by another person, but  as my mind drifts back in time,  the feelings of  emotional pain and isolation, the memory becomes vivid, as if I had just experienced it yesterday.

I know how HARD it is to live a life being SHY.   It's so difficult struggling from moment to moment, day after day with debilitating shyness, it takes over every facet of your life.  

I'm here to tell you GOOD NEWS! 
Having come from it, now that I am on the other side of it, I must state that it is actually more difficult to live in the confines of SHYNESS,  than to endure the short term process of actually moving through it.

As a young teenager, my shyness had come to a point that it prevented me from making friends.  When friends leave your life, one must be able to replace them otherwise,  life becomes a deserted island of isolation amongst a crowd of people.

At around 12, one of my best friends moved, then at 14, my other friend started socializing with a deviant group of girls, didn't attend school much after that and eventually dropped out of school altogether.  I had lost my two best friends at a critical time in life.

I was just turning 15, entering High School and found myself friendless.  I was very sociable with my former friends, very comfortable in our friendships which were formed at such an early age, I couldn't even remember the day I met them.  For some reason, although my existing friendships had been mutually rewarding,  I had no clue as to how to form new ones.   I felt lost.   As a teenager, I knew I had to find a way out of my hell but I just didn't know how.  How do I even begin?  

I desperately wanted friends but the few kids I did know in school were not good for me, a really rough crowd, acting way beyond their 15-16 years but they were all I knew.   I had to somehow get into another 'click'  of teenage girls, girls that were behaving within the norm of society at their normal age range level - still innocent,  the type of girls who would be better for me and my future.  

The problem was, I had no idea how to start forming new relationships in a world of teens already set into their own social clicks. 

Logically, I realized I could not longer sit back and wait until my shyness subsided.  The truth was the "shyness" aspect of me had gone on for fifteen years and I was already tired of it. 

I just didn't know how to start making new friends, especially outside of the existing group.  Fifteen was a very difficult and awkward age to start making friends again.

Making new friends seemed like an impossibility, I just didn't know where to begin.  I didn't know what to do and how to do it.  The situation had me  psychologically overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. 

I prayed and trusted GOD to show me the way.  

One night I was lying in bed reading a woman's magazine my Mom had picked up.  

There was a small article on how to get over being shy.   I couldn't believe it.  I couldn't turn to the article fast enough.    I read it and although I had to follow the instructions, I decided I was willing to give it a try.    As I read the article, I came to the conclusion that I had to follow the plan.   I could no longer fool myself into still believing I would someday simply "grow out of" being shy.   As I read, I realized I had to mentally grow - I had to stretch my mind.  

I never saved the article and I read it over 30 years ago (Yikes!) therefore,  I can now only surmise what I remember from the article and have taken the liberty to add in some new information from my own personal experience.  

According to the author, it would require three or so steps....

The best way out of shyness is to trick yourself out of it.   Okay, I thought, I already like the uniqueness of it.... I continued reading.

STEP 1:  Forget about who you think you are right now.   
(Hmm...I smiled and thought to myself "Now, there's a step that seems too good to be true")

STEP 2:  Who do you choose to be?  (This sounds interesting..)
 Each of us could, without much thought,  think of someone we know who  is outgoing with an ideal personality.  
Take a piece of paper and pen and write down those traits this ideal person has and /or those you wish you had.

Your Target Group and Your Current Status - Building the Bridge.
Also in Step 2, deciding who you want to be is also contingent upon, what kind of friends you want.  Not only are you advancing in communication with others but you may also be changing or creating a new style of who you want to become, the highest image of yourself.  The only way to better yourself, is to partake in some goal setting. 

You must feel comfortable about the person you are presenting to others in order to feel comfortably communicating with them.   If you hate the way you look, it will be harder to pretend to have confidence.   Find a way to like yourself and if some changes need to be made, start taking inventory.  The goal is to be comfortable with presenting yourself to others.  Either way, you must find out how to best like yourself.  You must take inventory of who you are now and who you would like to become - the best future image of yourself. 

3 Boxes.
A) Goal Group:  Decide which core group of friends would be ideal for you.   Think it through.   Start observing people and their behavior, which friends would make you the happiest?   What are they like?  How do they dress?  Do they have their own unique style?  What social groups do they belong to?  

B) Current State:  Now, look at your current state.  Who are you, right now at the present moment?  Take inventory of your person in both physical and mental form.  What is your current hairstyle?  Hygiene etc.?  How do you speak? 

C) Changes To Be Made. Now,  what changes do you need to make to help you achieve your personal goals and that to achieve the goal of belonging to your goal group?   Some changes will be easy and other goals will be more difficult and may fall into long term goals. Goals should be listed as either short term or long term and can then be broken down into daily, weekly, monthly and even annual depending on how much work, money and effort needs to be put forth to achieve each goal.  Be reasonable!

The first week might be as simple as getting a new haircut, changing your makeup and the way you apply it etc.

STEP 3:   Acting Class. 
Becoming Someone Else- That Outgoing Person You Know and Wish You Could Be, You Will Now Become.   
On your first day, you can start with a simple act.  Depending on the scale of one’s shyness, if you feel you are at a basic level, you can simply start out by just asking a stranger a simple question. 

Baby Steps. 

Personally, I feel that if you are extremely shy, if just the thought of approaching your peers, freezes your inner core, then first go outside of your immediate circle of people, go out of your immediate environment - outside of your school, work, church group etc.   Go to the shopping mall and ask a salesclerk a question.  Remember, your not asking the question as you but as the outgoing person with the great personality. 

What the heck, I thought,  if it's not me and I'm talking with a complete stranger, what's there to be afraid of?    If I make a complete fool of myself with a stranger, who's going to know?

Once you progress in communicating with strangers, you are ready to move onto those in your immediate environment, peers in the hallway, classmates etc.
The ART of Breaking Through Shyness

Get into your character. 
If you don't know what to say,  think about the person who you are emulating, what would this person say?   What does this person usually talk about? Go ahead and imitate the person who you are pretending to be in every respect and gesture if it helps you, go ahead,  use their favorite sayings and catch phrases....  Have fun with it, make it your 'secret' game.  If you perceive this more as a game, you'll have a better chance of not tensing up, you might even start to enjoy this.   The more amused you are with playing the role of someone else, the less tense you are, the less tense the conversation.

Does this person giggle or laugh hard?  Do they often agree with other people?  What do they say when agreeing? Do they nod their head saying "right, right..."  Get down to the details  etc.   How do they stand, do they cross their arms? Shake their head?  Are they reserved or animated? 

If you have to, if it's easier for you, go ahead and copy their gestures ....even repeat their favorites jokes or stories... until one day, your so comfortable talking, you simply add in one of your own jokes or stories...
 If you have decided to do these exercises among your peers, you may want to emulate someone outside of your peer group, so they don't accuse you of outright imitating or copying another close peer.

You role play until you become comfortable with just talking to another human being.. It's like training wheels..   Once you realize how easy it is, once you lose the self-conscious thoughts... you are free to become you.  You will become you before you are even aware of it.

See yourself in a new light.  Look at your face, your clothes, your hair.  You may not be beautiful, not perfect but either is everyone else.   We can always improve on what we have.   How can you be better?  What style is the new you at your best?  Set goals for yourself in becoming the new you.   Some goals are easy and can be accomplished fairly quickly, others may take years but get started!

 Dare to become.   First your alter ego, then yourself.   In other words, you fake it to you make it.    You will be amazed.

I dared myself to make the first move on the very next day and then each day after that.  I would practice being someone else.   It was my secret and it seemed to be working.  I set goals for myself.    The first day, I simply asked another student a question.  Build my confidence, even if it's a small step, it's still a step.     After  ten questions (and knowing the directions to every place and activity in school there was to know) I then learned how to compliment people... I pretended I was confident, funny and open to friendships.  I was soon making friends one by one.

About a year later, one day after school I was hanging out with some of my new  friends.  We were just giggling and laughing with each other.... 

Suddenly, my mind flashed back in time, to a scene of myself... I was alone, I was seeing myself alone during a period when I was without friends.  The revelation hit me - my life had changed.  I was at a place and time where I once envisioned myself, having a  wonderful time with the friends I dreamed of.   I was exactly where I wanted to be.

I smiled then.... and thanked GOD.

DreamWizard DreamWizard
51-55, F
15 Responses Jan 25, 2010

You're so right, Dream! Glad you escaped... I'm working on that as well!

I still don t know if I can do it ..It seems so hard...I am glad for you ..But I don t know if I will ever be an ordinary person,like everyone else...

Sure you can be ordinary. You could even be extraordinary. Once you make up your mind to be what you desire. Don't let the negative thoughts get in your way. Take out that machete and cut through the high weeds of negativity.

This article is made of awesome! Thanks for writing it fairygirl. Coming from someone shy who learns to deal with it in time.

Thanks, SC, your kind words made my day!

Thank you for sharing. My past shyness kept me from experiencing so many things in this wonderful world.

My shyness was more pronounced when I was younger of course, but it also seemed / seems to be influenced by the gender of my audience, or whether it's a business situation. To top it off, being online or on the phone worked out to be FAR less stressful / shyness-inducing. I concluded some years back that this may have something to do with the woman's eyes, as though she could see through me, through whatever façade of a "great guy" I was creating, and that any efforts to charm her would be completely futile as a result, so why bother. Basically I'd convinced myself to give up, if not before I'd started, then almost immediately after I HAD started trying to chat the woman up.

If I'm in a business setting, then I don't generally have any shyness issues around women, neither in person nor on the phone. If anything, I might suddenly hesitate at the realization of the sound of my own voice, but I usually manage to keep on going.

I've charmed many women in online chat rooms, some resulting in hanging out in person, or even much more intimate settings (without stating the obvious here). I discovered my "real self" in online chat, learned how to work the dry humor, the self-deprecating humor, throw out the quick witty comments or the odd corny joke. I learned how to not push hard at all, and watching the more clingy/needy/doormat types of my gender get shot down in flames, time and again.

But put me in a face-to-face casual social situation with a member of the opposite sex, and the wheels come off the bus. At least if I find her even a bit attractive, that is. I can still chat and make a bit of small talk and smile and stick with the eye contact, but anything more concrete/committal than the very light stuff (eg, "What's your name?" or "Where are you from originally?" or similar) and I'm just hopeless.

I've thought about this from time to time, and it has occurred to me that many of us are leaves floating on a pond while wisps of a breeze coax them to and fro -- meaning, we're much more alike than we often believe it to be true. Or more to the point, if I'm wishing I could strike up a conversation, there's a pretty good chance the person I'm considering talking to is feeling more or less equally awkward about the situation, unable to find the appropriate words to create that brief spark of enjoyable repartée. I need to remember this the next time I'm faced with this sort of opportunity. :-)

Great story - I think it could really help some people, myself included.<br />
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I have always had some feelings of social awkwardness and it seems to stem from whether i spend time in the company of people or not.<br />
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For example. 1 period of my life where I was unemployed - i hardly went out or met anyone. The only time I did go out was to go to the shop to get food and drink etc.<br />
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My social skills and comfortableness declined so rapidly...<br />
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The most outgoing I've been is when I was a Field Salesman. I only did it for 2 months but it was really life changing for me at the time.<br />
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This comment is turning into a story of its own so i'll just go write it =D

Well, I would love to read your story!

You are so right on. I often as a child wondered why I was so shy and what was wrong with me. It wasn't until I got to college and learned how alcohol would loosen me up. Drinking became a way of losing shyness. Drinking isn't a good thing longterm but it did help me become another person, like you talk about. It was better then any self-help book I read and I read them all. As I grew up, got married and went into business I became better able to handle my shyness. I still have times when I feel shy, and I go right back to first grade. What shyness did for me, I think, is make me a more understanding person, of persons who are not "normal" by society standards. I tend to look deeper at the person, not just what they did or didn't do. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt more often then not. I look for reasons why their behavior was what it was and not just assume they are bad to the bone. It wasn't easy growing up shy, but having gone though it I look back and think I'm a better person having gone through it.

That's an interesting statement..being a better person because of it. I feel the same way.

Thanks. I recently read an acticle on folks who have achieved great things even though they had ADHD or were dyslexic. I think of shyness in this way as well, as it was something I had to overcome, on my own in order to do what I was put on earth to do. Finding your way takes time, but it is, for me anyway, a time that helped build me to the person I am and I wouldn't change anything at all.

Thank you for your post Matilda26. It wasn't until I met someone on EP who was suffering from a severe case of social anxiety and shyness that I went back into a place when I suffered from this debilitating problem. It was so long ago that throughout the years I completely forget about my life back then. Literally, today I am a completely different person. <br />
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When I do remember my past, it's as if it was yesterday. The details and my everyday life so vivid. Eating lunch everyday by myself in the library..<br />
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The reason for this story is to inspire people who have this social anxiety and for those who have a desire to break out shyness - how to learn to become more sociable without fear. Many people who are shy just don't know where to start... therefore, never leave the confines of their shyness.<br />
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I'm here to tell you I was once YOU. I'm here to tell you YES you can. I'm here to tell you HOW. <br />
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Nothing is more difficult than being 15 years old in High School with no friends and trying to find friends outside a social group you've been associated with. <br />
Then attempting to do this..... being shy. <br />
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Break the bondage of this self-defeating prison called shyness or social anxiety that keeps you from forming relationships... friends....finding someone special in life....feeling confident to go after that dream job etc. <br />
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I'm here to support and help anyone who needs me. <br />
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Brittany220,<br />
Thanks for the post, I'll have to check out your blog. I hope your making progress!

It was really interesting reading your story, and I can relate to a lot of the things you said. It is hard being shy, I know. It's great that a simple magazine article like that helped you overcome your shyness! It's good that you set goals for yourself too, I'm also doing that currently and blog about my journey here:<br />
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I don't think all shyness is bad, and don't necessarily want to completely lose all my shyness. I think my shyness has been associated with a lot of good traits like empathy for others, kindness, and thoughtfulness. It's also allowed me to connect with other shy people who I can relate to. But there have been parts of my shyness that I feel have been holding me back and are making certain things more difficult than they need to be. So, I've been following a one year project for myself to confront those areas of my shyness and use my blog to help keep me on track. It's been going great, and I'm both excited and nervous about what I'm doing.

Thanks for posting this story and for your politeness.

That's very interesting. Your right about finding out who you were by what you were not. That is the first step in self discovery! Thank you for contributing your experience. I hope your story helps someone.

This is funny! I've tried this, too. I chose a close friend to model myself after. <br />
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People seemed to like her. I acted like her, talked like her, and joked like her, chose her favorite colors, books, movies, and even laughed like her; however, I was taken aback by the females I was attracting: the rude Queenbees & Wannabees, Miss Vicious Ambitious, The Sexy Bytches, Cheater Girls, and so on. I needed to time to sit back and wonder who my "friend" really was. Anyway, I found out who I was by what I was Not. Then, I could be small and funny, ambitious but conventional, insecure in a different way than most, and culturally aware. Some cultures don't allow shy people to live, so I had to change.

Thanks for your comment.<br />
Yes, it's funny, the same happened to me. I was plain looking nothing guys noticed. By the end of my senior year, my appearance changed a bit suddenly the guys started to notice me. <br />
Time changes everything. <br />
Amazing, how one's appearance changes the definition of shyness. My shyness was once considered "strange" but now it represented "off-standish" and had my peers starting to ask my friends if I was "stuck up". <br />
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A couple of years after High School one summer, one of my friends was invited to a local party. All of my friends (about 5 of us) went. I was asked if I was a model, if I lived in California.. etc. The guys asking me these questions? The same guys who went to my high school.... at the time I attended! The same guys who never noticed me..when I was plain and "strangely" shy.<br />
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I informed them that I attended the same HS & year of graduation. <br />
They all laughed, thinking I was playing them -stating, had I gone to their school they surely would have remembered me. They were convinced I was from California and a model.<br />
What the heck, I simply played the model from California.... lol.<br />
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You are absolutely right, modernromeo, try to do your best to improve yourself, then trust nature to take it's course. Very wise. <br />
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Time changes everything and to everything there is a season...

Thanks for sharing this, DreamWizard....It's great that you're now able to live a life free from social anxiety :) Your story will give hope and inspiration to many people here, myself included, who would do anything to escape from their shyness but have no idea how to go about it.