Overcoming shyness in the digital age

I was one of those little girls who always hid behind my mom’s skirts in attempt to remain unseen by people I perceived as strangers. On the bus going to kindergarten, I sat by myself in the front until one day a girl across the aisle showed me a picture she drew for her teacher. My love for drawing pulled me across the aisle to sit next to her. I gave her an acorn that day, a token of friendship. We were best friends until she transferred to another public school and eventually moved away.

Growing up, I had to work really hard to step out of my shell and talk to new people. As I matured, I constantly pushed myself to go in unfamiliar directions. I went sightseeing in a foreign country alone. I signed up for a NOLS course and horsepacked in the Absaroka Mountains in Wyoming. I lived in Hong Kong for 4 months. I took on leadership roles in school clubs. I worked as a peer consultant in my college’s writing center. I got certified in scuba diving.

Overcoming my shyness is a struggle I still face today. Although I may not seem very shy to those who get to know me, I still cannot walk into an unfamiliar place first without a hitch in my gut. I still cannot easily converse with people I do not know very well. I still occasionally long to hide behind my mother’s skirts.

Being shy means different things to different people. For some, it may be an inability to speak to adults, to peers, or to strangers. For others, it may mean the desire to be on the periphery and never the center of attention.

Those people who are not shy do not necessarily understand the courage it may take to walk up to a new person and say “hi.” Shy people are often misconstrued as snobby or uninterested. While I cannot say that all reserved people aren’t snobby, I do know that I never stay quiet because I feel I am better than others or because I am not interested in what is going on.

I am constantly at war with my desire to be social and meet new people, and my instinct to stay on the borders of life. I know that overcoming that instinct will allow me to discover so many wonderful things and meet interesting people. I’ve often thought I should stop labeling myself as shy and then maybe I’ll overcome it. But, as with many things in life, it is not that simple.

Which brings me to my point. In this day and age, when so much of our social life and networking takes place online, where do the shy people fit in?

While I cannot speak for others, I can say that I still feel the familiar shy hesitation when I post something on Facebook or publish a new blog post. It is by no means as severe as the shy hesitation I may feel when shaking hands with someone new or entering a restaurant I have never been to, but it is there with it’s hand on my shoulder slowing me down.

I am no longer in an environment where I am forced to socialize (i.e. college). I work in a windowless office with little in-person interaction. So I started a blog because I need a way to get out of my head and work toward crossing out the label on my shirt that says “shy.”

My younger sister, who is also very shy, uses the Internet as a form of expression. I see her step out of her shell through the Internet communities she belongs to. Though she does not know it, I am following in my sister’s footsteps by putting myself out there. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their thoughts, opinions, and stories. While I haven’t gotten to the point of signing up for a Twitter account or updating my Facebook status more than once every three or four months, I consider this blog my first real step into the social world of the Internet. I hope to work up the courage to follow more blogs, “like” posts I enjoy, and comment on posts that inspire me.

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2 thoughts on “Overcoming shyness in the digital age

  1. People on my campus just use cliqie.com now to meet people. It finds groups of like-minded people (cliques) that want to hang out with you and matches you with them if you like them back. It also helps you find and recommend things to do with your matches

  2. I can relate. I have always been shy and it kinda shocked me when people thought i was snobby. To this day, i get jitters when talking to someone new, I don’t think it ever goes away.

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