If you know me personally, what I’m about to write may make you laugh derisively with incredulity. But it’s still the truth: I am a shy person.
I can talk. I can make conversation. I can connect verbally. I’ve learned to do these things the hard way, but it’s almost never comfortable for me. It’s work. And the odds of my saying something odd or stupid are always high because I’m usually a little bit nervous when I speak. Why? Because I’m shy. I am emotionally hesitant and it effects my communication.
Let me give you an example of how shy I am. This really happened.
When I was a kid I went to a Baptist church. In fifth or sixth grade, some of the kids at church started “going out,’ which didn’t mean they actually went out, it meant they had agreed to be boyfriend and girlfriend when the Sunday School class went on trips and such. Like skating or going to Cedar Point. So. There was this girl. I thought she looked nice. I don’t remember her name. I almost remember what she looked like, but not really. It’s all vague. But I do remember getting my friend to ask this girl if she would “go” with me. Which he did. And she said “yes.”
So far so good.
But that meant I was probably supposed to actually talk to the girl, right? I mean, I should say something. “Hello,” maybe, or “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a church like this?” Hardy har har. But I had never spoken to the girl before and for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything to say to her. We smiled at each other across the room a few times for a few Sundays in a row — which made me nervous — but I could not get up the nerve to talk to her. So a few Sundays later she talked to my friend and told him it was over. We would have to break up because I was too . . . shy.
And I was. And I still am. Inside, I feel the same way now as I did then.
But over the years I’ve learned to talk to people. My wife helped me with this a lot. She is a very social person. And I’ve had good friends over the years who listened, even when I was saying some profoundly stupid things. So I learned. I learned to ask questions. I learned to articulate. And I do like stories and ideas, I like to pass them on. I even do public speaking now, but it’s never easy.
Overall, I would be content to say much less than I do, but it’s important to talk, even if you’re not completely comfortable doing it, even if you sound dumb sometimes. It’s important to connect with people verbally. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it can become. And you will likely get better at it, which can be important too. A day may come when you wish you had prepared yourself to communicate. It can be devastating to know something needs to be said, for your own sake or for the sake of someone else, but you don’t have the words because you haven’t learned the art of expressing yourself.
Words are complicated things. They take practice. Especially for shy people.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010