I followed internet advice for how to overcome my shyness and this one thing worked
I can’t afford therapy so one of my favorite hobbies is perusing the net for advice on how to live my life. Last week I asked my best friend, the internet, how to flirt and this week I decided to address another big issue in my life:
Internet, how can I stop being so damn shy?
I was directed to a WikiHow page per usual. First, I needed to answer a few questions to find out if I was actually shy.
Are you timid but you wish you could speak out more?
Yes! I am the person who has never returned a plate of food in her entire life because I’m too scared to speak up! I won’t send back a rare steak that I asked to be cooked well done. I want the confidence to eat the steak I deserve in the world! Unclear if that’s what this is referring to but I got into a weird dinner debacle last night I’m still thinking about.
Do you often feel overlooked in groups and want to make your voice heard?
Yes. I once went a whole conversation only contributing the word “totally!”
Is your participation grade in class suffering because of your shyness?
Umm I’m 30 and not in class anymore but definitely in the school of life, my dude!
In all seriousness, I suffer from a serious case of shyness. I’m a life long people pleaser, am extremely guarded, and have major issues with authenticity. I believe that the root of shyness is a fear of being disliked or unwanted, so quietness and withdrawing becomes a defense mechanism.
I am done with that.
The universe rewards courageous action. And the most courageous action I can think of right now is taking advice from wiki-how for one week on how to go from shy to confident.
Day 1: Become Self-Aware
Wikihow told me to “start to analyze what makes me cautious or fearful.” I didn’t really want to spend a day thinking about my fear of public speaking and butterflies (I can’t help it), so instead I made a list of the things I liked doing. I figured if I had a better sense of who I was, and led with that, it would make me more confident. I made a list.
- Horror movies, especially an early matinee.
- Documentaries about cults, aliens and doomsday preppers.
- Used book stores, old illustrations, the smell, the quiet, vintage book covers, great fonts.
- Greek mythology, old fables, books for children from the 50’s.
- Coffee shops at 6 a.m.
- Botanic gardens, aquariums.
- Driving without destination.
- Cooking even though I’m super bad at it. Baking even though I burn everything and refuse to measure.
- A quick chat with a stranger as long as it’s short. Although I hate running into people I know and having short catch ups with them.
That day, I went to a vintage bookstore and bought an old copy of my favorite childhood book, The Phantom Tollbooth. I went to a coffee shop and cracked it open. I saw a movie alone and made an employee take a picture of me. A shy person wouldn’t do that! That’s a Beyonce move!
Day 2: Improve Your Self Image
How could I improve my self image? Enter: Facetune. This is an app widely used and appreciated by the Kardashians. It is essentially Photoshop on your phone. Newsflash: women use it. I thought to myself: what better way to improve my self image than to improve upon a literal image of myself?
This is what I did to the above photo: airbrushed my skin, decreased size of my nose, increased size of my lips, made my hair shiny, whitened my eyes, made them bigger. I had been Kardashianized.
Am I doing this right? Don’t I look amazing? And natural? So natural. Is this what Wikihow meant?
Day 3: Use Social Media
Wikihow suggests that “if you’re naturally shy, work on your online presence. Use social media to get to know someone better.” I had this one in the bag. I already had 11K followers on Twitter and 9K on Instagram. I had achieved this UNIMPRESSIVE EFFORT THAT MEANS MOSTLY NOTHING IN THE REAL WORLD by cultivating a bit which essentially was the personification of the neediest, most desperate version of myself. Somehow, people found the version of me at my worst “relatable.” But, at the end of the day, it was mostly a bit. In real life, I am a lot happier and more put together than the side of myself I present online.
It’s very easy to hide behind firewalls. Part of the reason I am not stellar at socializing in real life is because I have perfected the art of socializing offline. I also use it as a crutch.
@ replying with my online friends can feel like a substitute for going out.
And at the end of the day I have to remind myself: I don’t actually know these people. Are they really my friends at all, or is the internet just fantasy land and an escape for IRL connection?
So, in an effort to practice this step, I started @ replying and starting conversations with as many people as possible.
This didn’t help me in the real world. Day 3 – a bust.
Day 4: ADOPT POWER POSES
The scientists over at Wiki how say that standing or sitting in a power pose for 2 minutes can actually reduce your anxiety by 25%. Please enjoy this series of photos of my power poses.
Day 5: Do Something For Others
Instead of focusing completely on your shyness and anxieties, distract yourself by considering other people
This was the most enjoyable step and something that I had been practicing for a while.
There’s a name for this and it is called “esteemable acts.”
Shyness is a deeply rooted concern with oneself and your own actions. It is self-obsession. Doing something for other’s takes the attention off oneself. You have to be accountable and reliable and it’s hard to be overwhelmingly introverted while doing that. So, in an effort to get out of my own head, I set off to help some people.
I checked in with old friends, asked how they were doing. I came early for my friends birthday party and helped her set up. I stayed late to help clean up. I ran last minute errands with a girlfriend who was stressed to leave for her 2 week trip. I gave advice to a friend who needed it even though I was feeling pretty shitty myself and was certain I had nothing valuable to say.
As small as it sounds–and it was small–I did feel better. I felt capable and necessary.
Who knew, it wasn’t selfies that made me feel better about myself, but helping people?