Am I Shy?
I’m going to start this out with a request. I would like for anyone who reads this post to comment at the bottom of the page. I would really love to start a 2 (or 3 or 5) way conversation on this topic. Even people who don’t know me personally should be able to respond to this based on the information I provide in the article. This is one of those unusual times when I look into myself and just don’t understand what exactly is going on. So, give me a helping hand and post a comment, tell me what you think, ask clarifying questions, talk it out with me. I appreciate it.
Am I shy? It seems like an odd question to ask doesn’t it. It feels like most people could tell you immediately whether or not they qualified as shy. It will probably surprise you to find out that I’m one of the people who would give themselves that label. When I tell people that I’m shy they always look at me like I’m crazy. I’ve had more than one person actually tell me that I’m crazy and that I’m way too much of an extrovert to be shy. At other times I’ve been compared to a politician for my gregariousness and the lengths I go to in order to win people over.
Here’s the craziest thing of all. I don’t think it makes sense either! How can I be shy? I’m one of the boldest people that I know. I actually enjoy talking in front of groups of people. I never let perceived differences in status (either positive or negative) prevent me from being friendly with someone. I regularly start conversations with people and introduce myself if I think I’m going to be seeing them regularly. I’m even a decent listener/conversationalist.
Here’s the flip side though. I’m typically a homebody because I’m much more comfortable alone than around people. I dread parties because I’m always (ALWAYS!) the one who ends up sitting alone, unengaged and feeling excluded. Honestly, if I had a choice to go to a big party or stay home alone it wouldn’t even be close, I’d end up at home every single time. I feel like I have very little in common with people. So conversations feel like they grind to a half quickly and then the uncomfortable silence fills the air until I pretend that I have somewhere to be and excuse myself.
Obviously I’m conflicted about this. My older brother will verify that there was a long season in my young life when I was so unsuccessful with interpersonal relationships that I intentionally withdrew from the social aspects of life. I convinced myself that I had no need for friends at all. I lived that way for at least a couple of years before my heart finally shattered and I realized in a moment of clarity that I did indeed need friends. In fact, I realized that I actually craved positive, healthy relationships with as many people as possible. I craved it so much that I broke out of my old personality and built a new one for myself.
Today it’s obvious which side of that conflict won out. I make no bones about caring for people and wanting desperately to help them out of their own dark times. Still, that old personality seems like linger under the surface. Behind my smiles and friendliness lies nervousness and insecurity. I’m like my little white cat that will warily step out from my hiding place until something makes me skittish. Then, just like my cat, I’m hiding under my mental bed, shutting down my emotions and watching from a distance.
Now you can see why I’m honestly confused. The reason it’s bothering me is that I feel like it’s wrong. I feel like I’m supposed to be one way or the other. Maybe I’m actually truly shy which would explain why I feel like being around people is work and that I have to make efforts to maintain my personality. On the other hand, maybe I’m not, maybe I really am that politician and if that’s true, why do I walk around with an anchor of shyness around my neck?
Right now I’m reading a great book called Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels. A part of the concept is that we all have different personal styles of relating to people, ways that we are comfortable with. If God made us the way that we are and chose the time that we would live then he meant for us to be around the people that we are around. And if we let our personalities flow naturally then we should be able walk more clearly in the path that he has set for us.
I want that, but I don’t feel like I have it. I want to be someone who can talk to people easily, someone who can build relationships without being scared and someone who can influence people towards heaven. Instead, I feel like I’m half in one world and half in the other. I’m wondering if what I’m realizing is that I’m stuck with a defense mechanism from my past that I didn’t realize was there. I don’t know. But I know that I’ve probably missed countless opportunities to do God’s will because I’ve been busy thinking that I was too shy to do it.
I don’t want to be shy. It doesn’t fit. Like I said earlier, I’m too bold to be shy. Yet it takes everything within me to start a simple conversation if I don’t have a specific agenda that I’m trying to accomplish.
So there you have it. What do you think? Am I shy? What if you know me personally? What do you think after reading this? Let me know what you think in the comment box below.
Thanks and be blessed,