I am naturally very introverted and at times painfully shy. In large groups or with new people, I sometimes don’t know what to say, or feel extremely awkward opening my mouth and initiating a conversation. This is just part of who I am.
That doesn’t mean I don’t push myself to try new things or step out of my comfort zone. I do, it’s just a challenge—but one I’m willing to take—without beating myself down in the process. I’ve realized that, it’s OK to be shy and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s common for well-meaning people to try to coax you out of your “shell,” but being shy isn’t entirely problematic. In fact, it has its benefits. Here are some of them.
Shy people are great listeners
There have been numerous times at my university, especially during large group tutorial debates and discussions, where I have felt invisible or misjudged as being lazy and unprepared because of my inability to verbally participate in a conversation. However, I was a much better listener than some of my more outgoing classmates and excelled in written and online tasks. I also learned that because I wasn’t constantly talking to other people in my tutorial I finished my work faster than those who frequently stopped to chat.
We’re better understood than we realize
It may sound obvious but at times I felt like everyone I knew was outgoing, sociable or extremely extroverted. I was wrong. One of my best friends, who is also the most outgoing person I know, confided in me that she experiences moments when she doesn’t know how to start a conversation or feels anxious and intimidated when talking to strangers. I have always admired her ability to be loud, confident and captivate a crowd. But discovering that she had moments of nervousness made me realize I truly wasn’t alone. There are so many people, even those who do not describe themselves as shy, who have instances where they are unable to make small talk or initiate a conversation. And that’s OK.
We recognize our limitations, and by that same token, our strengths
Last year I applied for a part-time job at one of my favorite fashion houses. I was excited to apply for a job at a company whose ideals I admire and whom I am a regular customer of. Yet, I didn’t get the job. They were looking for someone who was bubbly, chatty and loud. After the initial sadness I soon realized that everything happens for a reason. Looking back now, I recognize that my personality didn’t match the requirements for the job. But that was fine. In the end not getting that job was probably the best thing to ever happen. It made me more determined with my current employment, where I ended up taking on more responsibilities and then was awarded a certificate for producing a consistently high standard of work.
We are who we are, and that’s awesome
Finally, I learned that forcing myself to have a gregarious front or attempting to put on an outgoing façade made me feel uncomfortable, silly and overall made situations even more awkward and difficult. Instead by remaining true to my personality and learning to accept my shyness as a positive quality, I was naturally then able to feel more at ease.
(image via Paramount Pictures)