Coping With Shyness: Reflection and Poem

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As someone who is shy and introverted, sometimes it can be hard to open up around certain people and in certain situations. Growing up, I was almost always shy around my teachers. I was that student who hated being called on to answer a question in class and was nervous when presenting projects because I was afraid of saying something stupid and being laughed at. I rarely raised my hand in school. Luckily I didn’t let my shyness keep me from acting in school plays, singing in school choirs and all of the other activities I’ve done throughout the years. Overall though, I find it much easier to write out my thoughts than to sometimes speak them.

While I don’t always let my shyness hold me back (for example, in June I visited Colonial Williamsburg and raised my hand to volunteer to take on a character at a mock session in the Courthouse), at times it can still get the best of me. Depending on the situation I am in and who I’m talking to, I might stumble over my words and have a hard time answering questions and being open. Or worse, I might freeze up, unable to get the words out at all because of the fears that try to take control: fear of being judged; fear of looking or saying something dumb; fear of rejection.

At times I have to keep reminding myself (sometimes through Pinterest or Google searches, through reading quotes and listening to songs that inspire me, etc.) that if I mess up during a conversation, it’s not the end of the world. While I can sometimes be talkative (depending on who I’m talking to and the situation), I also know that I’ll likely always be shy and introverted to some degree and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s part of who I am. Yet I also have to continue taking baby steps to cope with my shyness and work on opening up, face to face.

A couple of months ago, I had gotten an email reply in regard to a meeting that I was having with one of my former teachers who was helping me with a story that I’ve been working on.  The email that my teacher sent reminded me that we would “talk, face to face,” and where there would be “no hiding behind a computer screen.”

And it hit me that I do sometimes hide behind a screen. With email, I have the time to write out my thoughts. It’s also easier because the other person isn’t right in front of me. However with being open in person, sometimes it’s scary because I’m right there and the other person is right there. If I’m nervous it might be harder for me to get the words out and I’m also seeing and hearing how the other person is going to react and respond right then and there. It might take me a little while to become more comfortable around the other person.

Nevertheless I’m being reminded and learning that even if I’m sometimes afraid to talk to someone, having conversations face to face can be beneficial. They can help with social communication skills, help clear up any misunderstandings and also help relationships grow because they’re more personal.

I was also inspired by that one email reply my teacher sent me to write this poem:

“Hiding Behind Screens”

Sometimes it’s easy
To hide behind a screen
To hide behind a mask
And never be seen.

Sometimes it’s easy
To let the words flow
By typing them up
Hitting send, off they go.

Sometimes it’s hard
To talk face to face
To get the words out
Though thoughts constantly race.

Sometimes it’s hard
To not be scared
Of being more open
When feelings need to be shared.

Sometimes we need
A helping hand
To step out from behind
Help us open up, to understand.

Sometimes we need
To let our guard down
To know we won’t fall
To know we won’t drown.

Sometimes we need
To stop hiding behind a screen
Open up to someone we trust
And on whom we can lean.

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