Shyness: It doesn’t have to be debilitating
Who has ever hidden behind their mother’s leg or hung out near the snack table the entire time at a social function because interacting with other people seemed to be the worst thing to ever exist in the world? Who’s ever had their heart pound for 10 minutes after delivering a presentation or speech in front of a group? And, finally, who has found that one of the questions on their personal list of Top Five Most Annoying Questions is, “why don’t you talk more?”
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you are most likely dealing with a personality trait known as shyness.
Also known as “quiet” and “bashful,” shyness has been around for centuries. You are guaranteed to have crossed paths or even befriended a shy person at least once in your life before college. In some ways, this may not have been a bad thing because shyer people tend to be better listeners, lending you a free ear to rant or vent to, and they also are more observational of the world around them, giving you the inside scoop on all things trendy and gossip, if that’s something you’re into. They also tend to be natural supporters for their friends and family.
I myself have been shy for the majority of my life so far, and it’s not been easy most of the time. I had to endure harmless teasing of how I would blush whenever I was called on to speak, and in some grades, the school year went by with some of my classmates not even knowing my name. Talking to strangers or people I barely knew was a struggle, and if I had to be the one who initiated the conversation, then you could forget about it altogether.
It wasn’t until high school that I really started to break out of my shell. I had established some friends, and I made some new friends due to similar interests. I was able to join some clubs that interested me and helped me to bond with my classmates and I got a job that required me to talk to strangers on a daily basis.
Breaking out of your shell is a process that comes at different times for different people, but even once you break free, I still believe that being shy is something one can never truly get over. There are always going to be situations where you feel like crawling into a dark corner to avoid the awkwardness of holding a conversation, but it is something you can work on.
Becoming friends with outgoing people is a great way to expand your horizons and force yourself into social situations with a friend at your side. Lucky for us shy folk, college is full of outgoing people. Finding a group of people with a similar interest to you can also help you make new friends and maybe even brave social functions with your new crew.
We’ve been told for quite a while now that college is a time for change, and it’s no secret that you have more freedom. You will, no doubt, discover more about yourself. But some people may see the transition as a time to completely change who they are in order to fit in more with what they believe the social norms among college kids are like.
Not all change is bad, and some students may even see this change as an opportunity to avoid the curse of shyness any longer. But some may change so drastically that they lose sight of who they were to begin with. In the grand scheme of things, I believe that your past is key to who you become in the future.
It’s okay to be shy. Not everybody is born with the ability to jump into a conversation and make friends in the blink of an eye; going into a new environment as a shy person can amplify the feeling of fear. But that fear doesn’t have to control you and the label of being bashful does not define who you are and who you will always be. FGCU’s student body is diverse; your people are here somewhere. At the end of the day, just remember to be true to you, shy or not.