HOW TO OVERCOME SHYNESS
Read Our Editor's Own Personal Account With Overcoming Shyness and Get Tips on How To Overcome Your Own Shyness
As I grew up I began to realize that my extreme shyness and social awkwardness was often interpreted as snobbery or elitism, which was very far from the truth. I wanted to be friends with people; I just couldn’t bring myself to open my mouth. This really bothered me, and I set off to conquer my shyness and become more engaged and interactive with the world around me.
Today, no one who knows me would ever in a million years describe me as shy; I actually have a problem NOT talking to strangers and if you ever find yourself in a room with me, I will talk to you and you will be my friend.
How did the quietest girl in the class become Little Miss Social Butterfly? I conquered shyness, and you can too.
HOW TO OVERCOME SHYNESS
First, quit thinking of and describing yourself as shy. If you are shy, you probably feel fear and anxiety in social situations and wonder how all those outspoken people travel through life so fearless and unafraid. Well guess what? They are anxious in social situations. Everyone is. That façade of super-confidence and fearless behavior exhibited by social stars is just that- a façade. Inside, everyone doubts themselves and worries what others might think; some people have just learned to push through this fear, to acknowledge it and speak up anyway. You can too.
To push through the anxiety about social interactions, you first must realize that what you have to say and indeed who you are is worthwhile and needs to be shared with the world. Often shyness is just a manifestation of low self-confidence and negative thinking: Why would anyone want to be friends with me? Why would anyone care what I think about the conversation? To bolster your self-confidence, find something you are good at, and concentrate on that, whether it is cooking Italian food or drawing horses or running fast. There is something you are good at; indulge in it regularly and keep it in your head during social situations.
Once you realize that you do have worthwhile contributions to give the world, you need to get over yourself. The biggest challenge in learning a foreign language, for example, is not verb conjugation or vocabulary memorization, but the fear of sounding and looking stupid. Making friends is the same way; many shy people hold their tongues because they are afraid that they might say something that sounds stupid.
Well guess what? Of course you are going to say something that sounds stupid one of these days. We all do. Just as success comes along with many failures, extroversion comes along with saying things that may sound stupid. It’s okay! Even better than that, social faux pas can actually serve to endear you to your fellow human beings, because we all make them. No one is perfect, and really- who would want to be?
You must take active steps to overcome shyness and push through your anxiety to talk to people. Start small, by chatting up people you interact with on a day-to-day basis, people who have to talk to you like your barista or the tollbooth operator. Say hi. Ask them how they are doing. You should see every human interaction as just that- a human interaction, and mine it for conversation in order to practice getting over your shyness. Soon enough, you will be talking to people you don’t have to, like the cute bartender at the club or the interesting girl in the bookstore.
As you become more engaged and interactive with the world around you, you will notice an upswing of energy in your life as the new human connections add value to your experiences. Conquering shyness is a self-fulfilling loop. Once you get a taste of a more outgoing you, you’ll want more and will put yourself out there more.
And once you’ve put yourself out there, don’t forget to pull yourself back and take time for yourself. Even the biggest social butterflies need plenty of alone-time to recoup and re-energize so they are ready for the next party. Give yourself this space and time to get to know yourself and the gifts you have to offer the world. Get off the wall, because you are a flower.
Shilo Urban is a freelance writer who has just relocated to Los Angeles after her previous homes of Seattle, New Zealand, Paris, Maine, and Austin. She is an active member of the West Coast electronic music community and lives to promote the art that she loves and the people who create it.