Overcoming Shyness: Being Brave and Sharing My Story

I describe myself in the About Me section of my site using many adjectives.  You will notice that “shy” isn’t one of them.  I have a confession to make: I used to be extremely shy and still am sometimes.

I am shy when I am in some social situations, as are the majority of individuals.  More than 90% of the world’s population have been shy during some form of social interaction.  My shyness occurs when I am in unfamiliar groups.  The initial meeting is difficult for me; however, once I start talking to the people in the group, I am no longer shy.  I am very comfortable around people who I know well and most would call me an extrovert.


When I entered my teenage years, I became extremely shy. Three key moments resonate with me:

  1. I had a very difficult time approaching men who I really liked and when I decided that I liked someone (even if we were good friends before), I would stop talking to them (kind of defeats the purpose).
  2. My school work was affected a bit, because I would not raise my hand to ask questions or go to the teacher for help until I felt comfortable.
  3. I had a hard time performing in public as I didn’t want to be judged negatively.  I took supportive roles rather than lead ones. I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want the attention.

Individuals think that shy people are quiet.  This is not true for me; as many people know, I love to talk and to share. My shyness does not mean that I am inadequate in any way or that I lack skills or talent. Rather, it only means that I have a hard time sharing what I hold on the inside.

When I enter a situation for the first time, I have a hard time speaking up until I feel comfortable in that setting.    Some may mistake my lack of speaking as an indication that I have nothing to contribute. That isn’t the case at all; I have A LOT to contribute, I just do not feel comfortable enough initially to speak up.

But, I am overcoming this issue; and I won’t let this barrier - shyness -  prevent me from getting involved with other people. Since I have been talking about overcoming obstacles on my blog, I thought I would share this obstacle that has been prominent in my life.

As Philip Zimbardo (1977, p.12)states “shyness can be “a mental barrier as crippling as the most severe of physical barriers, as its consequences can be devastating:

  • Shyness makes it difficult to meet new people, make friends, or enjoy potentially good experiences.
  • It prevents you from speaking up for your rights and expressing your own opinion and values.
  • Shyness limits positive evaluations by others of your personal strengths.
  • It encourages self-consciousness and an excessive preoccupation with your own reactions.
  • Shyness makes it hard to think clearly and communicate effectively.
  • Negative feelings like depression, anxiety, and loneliness typically accompany shyness.”
Photo Credit: Katrina Barber. Taken at Camosun College. Fall 2008.
Photo Credit: Katrina Barber. Taken at Camosun College. Fall 2008.

People can become anxious in a new social environment, myself included.  Failure to fit into the group can be damaging to one’s identity. Shyness (a.k.a. social anxiety) is a common personality trait whereby people feel scared and nervous when in gatherings with others. I have friends who, when I tell them I used to be shy, they just laugh at me.  They cannot believe that the woman they see standing in front of them is quiet and reserved.  Some people think that if a person is shy, this means that they are introverted and do not like people.  However, as shown above, I am not an introvert. Introverts try to avoid interactions with others because they would rather be by themselves; however, shy people avoid social interactions only due to their anxiety.  I like to interact with people, but I sometimes lack the courage to do so because the social situation is unfamiliar.Being shy should not be viewed as a negative trait. These individuals lack the confidence (temporarily) to interact with other people.  They may have self-doubt about themselves and think that others will judge them negatively.  As a result, shy people tend to worry about what others think of them (i.e., they focus too much on the critics) and let this belief influence their thoughts and behaviours.  Shy people really want to have friends and to be social; however, they have a barrier that holds them back from achieving these aims.

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.” – Andre Dubus


That is why I think it’s important to share your story, to not be silent, and to speak. I had my voice taken away from me for a long time because I cared too much about the critics. Now, I’m getting my voice back. I have realized I need to get out there and not let this barrier hold me back. Each of us has only one life to live.I encourage you to dig deep in all of your relationships and to not be afraid to speak up and show the world what you hold inside.  These are two of the most important lessons I have learned in my life so far.

Feel free to share your experiences about shyness or the life lessons you have learned. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

Related articles