Why Some Of Us Are Shy

I’m shy. Very shy.

At university, I hardly said anything in tutorials unless the tutor asked me a question. Hanging out with others whom I barely know or just met, I usually don’t say much either.

It’s never easy being a shy person.

Autumn along the Yarra River. Stories change. Seasons change (Photo 2/2)

Autumn along the Yarra River. Stories change. Seasons change (Photo 2/2)

When we’re shy, we feel confused. Words don’t come easy out of our mouths when others talk to us. Some of us are shy because we’re not used to being around others or certain people: it’s intimidating, and we don’t know what to expect.

Sometimes I stutter around Caucasian Australians who politely say “Hi” to me. Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, my Caucasian classmates always asked me why my hair was brown with smirks on their faces. Painful relationships are hard to forget.

We feel trapped when shyness comes over us. We feel the need to be quiet. Shyness can be a cultural thing. My Chinese-Malaysian parents brought me up to listen to others when they’re talking – and I needn’t respond to them. These days, I still hear this message at the back of my head.

When we’re shy, we feel afraid. Afraid of being social. Our mouth goes dry, our heart beats a little faster and our face feels flush. Sometimes shyness stems from anxiety or some sort of phobia. Last year, I was in a clothes shop and couldn’t find a shirt in my size. I took a few steps towards the salesperson at the counter. My heart was racing, palms sweaty. Didn’t want to trigger a 20-minute panic attack episode so I left. And I have a small voice that others find hard to hear anyway.

It’s easy to disappear into the crowd when we find it hard to say a few words. Chatty people naturally talk to other chatty people and when we’re shy, it feels awkward to butt in or interrupt them as much as we want to. It feels like we’re missing out on things. We might feel relieved when others leave us alone, seeing we’re “not up” for small talk. But sometimes, it gets lonely.

Being shy isn’t all bad. When we’re not the life of the party, we watch. Listen to conversations. Become more self-aware of what’s going on around us.

When we’re shy, we keep to ourselves. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not confident with who we are and what we do. We know that we’re shy; we know ourselves to some degree. When we shy away from people, chances are we go and do what we like and what we’re good at. For me, it’s writing and playing video games.

Sometimes it’s normal to feel shy. Sometimes being shy is a part of who we are. But if we hold back words all time and let others speak for us, we might as well be a doormat.

Last year, I tried to come out of my shy shell by simply putting myself out there, not thinking much about my past on these occasions but someone who wants to be more confident. I went back to a shop and asked for a refund for a bag that I bought there, and got one. I made small talk with a stranger who asked me to take a photo of him. When I met dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling, I asked her for an autograph…but couldn’t bring myself to tell her how much she inspires me to write. Massive regret. What’s the worse that could happen, speaking up?

Being shy is a choice.

There’s also the choice to be less shy.

And with each choice, there’s always room for change.

Are you shy? What happens when you talk to shy or quiet people?

Related articles

Advertisements

101 thoughts on “Why Some Of Us Are Shy

  1. I am an extreme extrovert. We all have our natural preferences so I can be quiet but it is challenging for me. As an extrovert one can stick one’s foot in one’s mouth quite easily. I tend to speak to quickly. See there are always positive an negatives. 🙂

    Like

    • Ah, you’re outgoing and always up for a chit chat. I suppose being outspoken can open up many doors for you. Chatting around, you warm towards more people and so you meet more people and get invited to work/social occasions. I reckon you might speak quickly, but in a very friendly and approachable way. There are always plusses being either shy or outgoing. What I’ve always noticed from the extroverts that I’ve met, though some do come across as arrogant and full of themselves 🙂 At the same time, people who are shy can come across this way too. Always negatives in positives 😉

      Like

      • I think as I have aged I have become more friendly and approachable and hopefully not arrogant. I have been a nurse for 33 years and perhaps in that profession one become very practiced at approaching people in a kind manner. I have a very good friend who is an introvert who teases me by saying “Where would you extroverts be without us introverts to listen to you?” Then we share a good laugh at our differences.

        Like

        • It would be horrible to think that we’re friendly but in reality people think we’re arrogant. That would be a big blow to our shy side. But you seem so nice and welcoming on your blog, I really do think you’re approachable and not at all scary!

          Hahaha. Your friend is hilarious. There is definitely a place in this world for both outspoken and shy people. As long as we treat each other right!

          Like

          • That sums it up perfectly Mabel. Kindness to one another and embracing the differences is what we all need. Those who know me in person say I write just as though I was talking. I want the blog to be genuine and I truly am delighted to have you here. Welcome!

            Like

  2. Growing up, I was shy until I got to college, then I started to come out of my shell a little. I started doing ballroom dance. As a guy who was learning how to dance, it was hard asking girls to dance, but I got over it, and now it a easy thing to do. I can relate to what you said about being at a party and not being the life at the party. I always find that fun, watching people and hear in on conversation. When I met other shy people, the first thing I notice is there voice. They speak in a soft voice and their body posture.

    Like

    • Good on you, Mikey. Learning ballroom dancing from scratch and learning how to communicate with your dance partner(s) as a shy person sounded very challenging for you. And now you say it’s easy, so this gives us shy people hope out there that if we take the effort to put ourselves out there, we can become less shy.

      Come to think of it, I also notice other shy people’s soft voices too when I meet them. Not to much body posture, but I suppose they look like they’re holding back themselves from you…perhaps not folding their arms, though they might place their hands in front of them, I think. I should pay more attention.

      Like

  3. Hi Mabel, I really enjoyed reading this (and all your blogs for that matter) and I was trying to remember the conversation we had when I bumped into you at the city and I don’t remember thinking you were shy but maybe that’s because I’m so talkative.
    Interesting read! keep up the writing!

    Like

    • Thanks, Frances, for the support. I remember when I bumped into you, I was waiting for someone. Felt terribly bored at the time and was glad to see a familiar face and have a chat. A few months ago, I thought I saw you in front of Melbourne Central’s Fossil, looking at a Valentines Day stall. Not sure it was you, but it looked like you. The shy person in me told me to back off and not say “Hi” and risk embarrassing myself if it wasn’t you 🙂

      Like

  4. I was a shy person when I was much younger. I started to change myself in that degree during the time I spent among a group of confident people. There were 5 of us in the group. Besides me, they had outgoing personality. They’d like to share their comments. And they have taught me a lot to improve myself and speak my mind.

    When I continued my life in my Master degree, the first course that they provide us for wasn’t related to our degree but they chose to teach us about 7 habits of highly effective people. I learned to shift my paradigm despite the fact that I read only 1st habit. But the 1st habit was being Proactive which truly helped me change my shy personality.

    Currently, I don’t think I’m a shy person but I’m still not good at making small talks. However, I believe we can develop our skills if we want to and I want to 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing, Cotton. Love how you didn’t choose to be quiet but instead took the initiative to speak up and join the conversations with your outgoing friends. They sound like very approachable outspoken people, very welcoming of you into the conversation, and perhaps even asking you questions to prompt you to speak. I suppose if shy people get to know people like that, this is always an opportunity for us to practice our speaking skills.

      And yes, formal education can help us become less shy. That is a very “hands-on-people-person” subject in your Masters course. I think my university also offers that too. Some may call such courses a waste of time as it isn’t related to our degree, but such courses gives us insight into getting along with people – something we all need to do at work. Love your positive attitude towards developing your confidence and social skills. I can certainly learn a lot from you 🙂

      Like

  5. I used to think of myself as shy. Actually, I was shy in some situations with strangers, but not necessarily shy when with friends. But if it was a big group, I wasn’t usually one to talk a lot either. My mum then introduced the book “The highly sensitive person” (HSP) to me. After reading it, it all made sense. The author describes the HSP in this way: “has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment”. But the most important thing to me was to know that it’s nothing that we can or even need to change, because it’s innate. I’ve tried to be more social on some occasions in the past, tried to overcome this “shy trait”. There were times when I tried too hard to be social often enough and got really exhausted. Today, I also try to have enough alone time which I use for writing, making illustrations, listening to music or traveling. I feel much healthier that way.

    Like

    • Reading your comment, Ruth, I felt you brought up a very interesting point: shyness versus being quiet. Both traits entail not speaking much, but being quiet is something that we have the power to choose to do. You can be shy-quiet, or you can simply be not-shy-quiet. When someone’s quiet, it doesn’t necessarily means they’re shy.

      Thanks for sharing that HSP quote. I think you say it best when you say sometimes shyness is innate (way better than how I cheesily said it was “a part of who we are”). Sorry to hear you get tired when you try to be a social mingler – maybe your body’s telling you something. Or it could just be because we’re getting older 🙂

      Like

  6. I used to be also a very shy person. I would not dare to pick up the phone when my family received a call, I was unable to ask in the stores for help or even participate in school (being active during class contributes about60% Of the total grade). I got nervous, nearly panicked when I actually had to talk to people. Then later on, probably after my studying in Finland for a year I started to open up and back in Germany I dared more and more. This happened mostly because I realized that I will have to do this step or would fail in my studies and everyday life.
    Later in university I had no trouble anymore to participate in tutorials, actually I was often the discussion leader. Even though I improved so much already I still don’t want to ask others for help right away, it takes a long time till I search for example the whole store for something till I ask some employee there. I also still don’t like to do phone calls but that will hopefully change also at some point 🙂
    So I also can say that a shy person can change if really necessary (I mean normal shy people as me, there are of course so many more different cases which are most likely totally different)

    Like

    • I feel for you so much. At university, a lot of my classes had that participation grade too. Not only did we have to turn up for class, we had to say something constructive about the class topic of discussion that day. I always dreaded these classes. I guess during our younger days, while waiting for our time to speak to the class, we silently prepared an array of answers in our heads to a bunch of imaginary questions.

      I think it’s great that you take the time to search the whole store for what you’re looking for. Being shy here has it’s advantageous – you’re determined to seek out what you want, independently on your own. And I’m sure you’ve found things yourself without help on numerous occasions. You know what? this happens to me too all the time 🙂

      On a side note, your comment once again was directed to my spam folder. It has a strong liking for you.

      Like

  7. Mabel, sometimes it is best to put your lips together and press firmly. Other times not so much. I think basic personality types are imprinted on us when we are very young and take a long time to change. Have you ever done a Meyers-Briggs personality profile? If not you should try it sometime. You can find them online easily. I find that I can be outspoken and aggressive on some occasions and quiet in other situations. A lot just depends on my mood. But I do speak to strangers all the time with a simple “good morning” or “how are you” or some comment about the surroundings. I think most people are friendly and want to be engaged but once in awhile you run up against an odd case and you just have to move along. Life is too short.

    Like

    • I have done the Myer-Briggs personality test. Though I don’t think it gives a 100% accurate depiction of our personalities, I do think throws up interesting results for each of us. I got INTJ when I first did it. And when I tried again and a third time, I still got INTJ.

      Mood. So true. When we’re down, I suppose we’re more likely to be quiet, afraid that if we speak out we may say something hurtful. Then again, commenter China Elevator Stories has suggested, there’s a difference between quiet-shy and just being quiet or knowing when to keep our mouths shy. What you don’t say can’t get you into trouble, but what you do say can open up opportunities. Being shy or outspoken: both comes with perks and downsides. Thanks Monkey, Kongo, for stopping by.

      Like

    • Glad you brought up the idea of maturity. As we grow older, we accumulate more experiences and interact with more and more people. So I suppose even the shyest person will learn to become a less shy bit by bit. Good on you for coming out of your shell. Maybe someday I will get there 🙂

      Like

  8. I grew up being (chronically) shy and overshadowed by people. I am still shy (though most people are surprised). I have learned to think about others (especially those who are shy) and helping them feel more comfortable.
    Very nicely written, Mabel

    Like

    • “overshadowed by people”. I like how you say that. As a shy person, I feel that a lot of the time too. Helping others being more comfortable is a wonderful thing, you should be proud of yourself. Being positive and giving a lot of encouragement to speak their mind I think helps shy people to be more confident.

      Thanks for the nice words, Leslie. And I really appreciate you stopping by and reading.

      Like

  9. I can be very shy, yet very open & confident also. Depends on the situation but it frustrates me, because like you said, what’s the worst that can happen. You say something silly… Laugh… Move on. It gets easier with age 🙂

    Like

    • You come across as very confident and outgoing in your blog posts, Holly. Can’t imagine you being shy 😉 So true. Sometimes in certain situations we feel shy. Like coming face to face with someone you have a crush on. Or coming across a sales assistant who is meticulously groomed. Laugh and move on. I like that. I don’t like aging, but as grow older we meet more people, and I guess that helps with shyness 🙂

      Like

  10. This is a wonderful reading, so touching. It’s much better being shy, listening, thinking and placing one right word on the right place than speaking faster the brain can think and talking only to hear the own voice. At the end you will be the winner and become more self-confident.

    Like

    • Have to agree with you there that outspoken people tend to speak fast. At least that’s how we perceive it…or maybe some shy people have a slower way of processing words. As a shy person, sometimes when I speak I tend to blurt out my words because I’m nervous – and I come across as a fast talker. I’m working on this, though.

      Thanks for your nice words, Erwin. You say it so well: “At the end you will be the winner”. Sounds like a line from an extrovert 🙂

      Like

        • Seems everyone has been saying we all get more confident as we grow older. Makes sense as we mingle with more people through all the experiences we get as life goes on…how can one not learn how to communicate with others with more self-assurance?

          I take your word for it, Erwin.

          Like

  11. I’m not shy but I don’t trust. A whole other topic. I appreciate you commenting and engaging on my blog Mabel. I had a friend for awhile who has since moved away that was extremely introverted. I learned to handle that person with care. We all have our issues to work on and I think if we can just stop and realize that EVERYONE has issues, we might be a little more understanding. hugs

    Like

    • Trust. You are so right, that is another whole topic altogether, and I think you’ve given me another topic to write about 😉 And yes, everyone has their own issues and problems and it doesn’t help that many of us keep questioning why we’re weird in our own ways. And how shy people tend to get bullied by extroverts.

      I love engaging with your blog as I love how you take and create photos. One day I hope to take photos that tell stories and have lots of feeling.

      Like

  12. I’m a shy person especially in front of strangers. I can’t really find the right questions to ask a stranger cause I feel like I might cross over some sort of invisible line that i don’t know off. I don’t open up that much as well. That’s why I keep the people special to me close and I’m not one to give out my trust so easily.

    Like

    • Understandable how we can be shy in front of strangers. You can never really predict their background and what makes them tick, and what makes them go over the edge. It’s not nice to get on the wrong side of someone you’ve just met, especially if you like him/her in the romantic or work sense. Also, you never know if strangers have the best of intentions. For all you know, they may have quite the opposite and being shy comes in handy – best to keep yourself to yourself instead of letting others take advantage of you.

      Like

  13. I loved this, I too have a shy shell but I agree that this does not mean I’m not a confident person. I don’t have anxiety attacks, I just find it hard to get a word in edgewsys sometimes as Im mostly attracted to loud people with big personalities – and I also, annoyingly, have a crazily quiet voice. It can be very frustrating but it does mean that when I do finally come out with something, it usually surprises people. I make them listen 🙂 Great post!

    Like

    • “Shy shell”. I just love that phrase, glad you used it, Jody 🙂 Sometimes when you try to get in a word in a conversation, it’s hard – you come across as interrupting and you may interrupt someone mid-sentence. Which can be embarrassing and this can lead to the outspoken people talking even much louder over you. You’re like me, have a quiet voice! I’ve learnt how to improve projecting my voice, but sometimes when I’m tired or stressed my voice still comes out small.

      Like

  14. I’m shy too sometimes, depending on where I am and who I’m around. After I’ve been around someone (or a group of people) for a while, I become pretty talkative. But it takes a long time to reach that point.

    Like

  15. I agree that confidence can help to break the shyness. I also notice that some people think before they talk or express, that may not be shyness. I don’t like to “look-at-me” approach as some extroverts do, but have no problem with sharing my thoughts and ideas with others. I really enjoy reading this post. Thank you, Mabel!

    Like

    • That is a great point you bring up. I do remember a few occasions where I was feeling very shy and just blurted out some random words. Like when I’m browsing something in a shop, I’ll comment on what I’m looking at or my day just to get a conversation going. Some extroverts can be full of themselves and perhaps arrogant, but I don’t think they mean any harm. Thanks for your nice words, Amy 🙂

      Like

  16. I think that sometimes people think I’m really shy, but I’m not, I’m just very introvert and prefer to be in my thoughts at that moment. Then I have moments (though usually not in a big group) that I talk a lot and wonder what on earth is wrong with me! 😉
    When I meet someone that seems shy, I try and put them at ease by asking them questions – not any personal ones of course – so that they have reasons to talk. So you think that would work?

    Like

    • You come across as someone who likes to wonder and wander quietly, Sofia. I can picture you strolling around Barcelona in your sunnies and not saying a word to anyone 😉 You being a loud-mouth on occasions? That’s hard to imagine but I’ll take your word for it!

      That sounds like a very good way to make shy people more comfortable. And you’re right on the kinds of questions to ask. Though if you ask too general questions like “How’s the weather” or “How’s the food”, you might come across as someone who’s a bit of a try hard, desperate for company. But then again, a conversation is always a conversation – who knows where it can lead you?

      Like

  17. Shy indeed. I am what is referred to as an extroverted introvert. Crazy right? As such, I am constantly struggling with myself on what I should do in any given situation. But I have discovered, especially since I have become a teacher, that I can speak when I need to and I can stay quiet when I need to. I think a big part of being shy is a fear of embarrassment or messing up. At least that was how it was with me. My ego berated me, my mind played out every possible situation, and I replayed every interaction over and over until it drove me bonkers. The positive side is that I can now use this for my writing!
    There’s nothing wrong with being shy. Thanks for sharing such a great topic.

    Like

    • “extroverted introvert”. Never heard that before, and it does sound crazy. But I accept that and it sounds like you’re an interesting person, Matthew. Teaching. That’s a role where you have to put yourself out there and talk to students. Lots of practice there for you to start a conversation. As a shy person, I find it hard to strike a balance between speaking up and letting others speak. Quite often, I butt in on conversations just as someone else has begun talking. Talk about bad timing. Learning to gain more confidence is a process, takes time to learn. Sounds like you’ve been through this, and now you get to share it through writing. Very happy for you!

      Like

  18. Great topic, writing and opening yourself up for us with this post. At times, there is such a strange stigma attached to introverts sometimes that it is frustrating (I consider myself an introvert, but can be very outgoing when I am comfortable…even in a new situation or with strangers). In business, being an extrovert is very important, but I made inroads in business actually by being an introvert ~ learning, listening with very little BS (which I think can be very rare with some go-getters in business). I think it is as you say: shyness is a choice. I prefer being “shy”, sitting back and observing/learning and then if I am comfortable getting involved. I think introverts naturally hold back until we feel comfortable in an environment…and then watch out 🙂

    Like

    • Interesting to hear you say you’ve had good times with business through being less outspoken and more quiet. A lot of us would much rather have a leader that listens and looks our for others rather than a leader who talks all the time. So I guess certain traits of shyness are useful, and shyness isn’t a bad thing at all.

      This is actually the first time I’ve disagreed with what you’ve said, or train of thought abit (I think, might be a misinterpretation of your words on my part after a long week of work). We can be introverts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re shy…being an introvert can just mean that we like being alone and don’t like talking much. Since we all have different personalities, there probably are different levels of introverted-ness out there.

      When I’m tired, I don’t say much. Sometimes in these situations, I will get asked, “Why are you so shy?”. And I never fail to feel surprised 🙂 Thanks, Randall, for stopping by. Love it when you do as what you say always gets me thinking.

      Like

      • I think you are right… there is a difference between being introverted and shyness. While I am introverted, and often people will say that I am shy, often it is just that I do not care to speak (or be around strangers practicing small talk)…however, I do love to interact with something I am passionate about given the opportunity (so not a trait of shyness).

        In business, the alpha-dog, extrovert is the epitome of leaders, but as you mention what a team of people want is someone who looks and takes care of the team. That is a strength, I believe, that is becoming more important & noticed in business. 🙂

        Like

        • Can’t see how you’re shy, Randall. I’m sure you have to speak up and tell others to get out of your way when you go out shooting photos…sometimes 🙂 “I do not care to speak”. Interesting you say this as I am like this all the time. Sometimes while I’m waiting for the train or tram, some random person comes up and starts chatting with me, and all I really want is not to speak – and I don’t feel shy. I guess it’s a good feeling when you meet someone who shares the same passion as you, be it writing, drawing, photography and so on – because usually meeting such people doesn’t happen often. So it makes sense to instinctively not feel shy and go and start a conversation with them.

          Like

          • Ha, ha, good point, usually when I am shooting I say nothing…except when shooting people, then interaction is very necessary and I do like it. You are right, in that the not wanting to speak (which is often my choice) is not equal to shyness 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  19. I find that I can almost always relate to your posts! I’ve always been very shy myself. When I was a child, I was diagnosed with selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that made it nearly impossible for me to speak in certain social situations. It wasn’t until the 2nd grade that I was able to begin whispering to my teachers and certain classmates. I couldn’t smile for a school photo until I was in the 5th grade. I greatly improved when I moved away to college, even more when I moved to Korea. I think a big part of that was that my peers knew me as the girl who didn’t talk. When I moved to a new place, no one knew me or had any expectations of me, so I was free to redefine myself. I still feel uncomfortable in certain social situations. I still get anxious when I have to call someone. I doubt I will ever be considered an extrovert, but now I know that I CAN speak up if I need too.

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that you had an anxiety disorder as a kid. It sounds horrible, not being able to even talk much to the teachers until you were a bit older. Even smiling. I think you’ve touched on something here. I remember being very shy as a kid, and smiling was something I never liked doing, never did that for photos. Thinking back harder, I was actually afraid of smiling, of looking happy – and when we look happy, people usually glance at us.

      It’s great to hear that you’ve become less shy, and I’m so happy for you 🙂 Sometimes a fresh beginning is all we need to turn over a new leaf. Your story is inspiring, and so are your words. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  20. I agree with you. For us, it’s a cultural thing. In Asia but not in general, it’s a sign of respect. When elders talk, you need not to join their conversation. We do not talk if we weren’t asked to. We just smile whenever people look at us.

    In western countries, they encourage talking, especially in school. They want kids engaged in conversations. And I do not have any problem with that. Hey, how are you? – It’s normal to hear those remarks from others. They are very friendly. But if you hear that kind of common greeting coming from a stranger In Asia (foreigner or local), it may sound arrogant, one may feel uncomfortable, especially in some Muslim countries.

    Asians tend to be shy sometimes because of the English language. They are conscious if their grammars are correct or not, if they pronounced the word right or may be shy if they have this funny accent. The accent that reflects our local tongue.

    Like

    • That is so true. In Asian cultures, respecting and not raising our voice to our elders is a virtue. And it’s the opposite in Western culture – sharing your opinion openly is given the thumbs up. Even if you randomly say “Hello” to a stranger, it’s not considered weird. You’re definitely right about Asians conscious about speaking languages with proper grammar. There’s this culture of excellence and “face” Asians are always asked to strive towards to, so maybe this goes to some way why we’re hesitant to speak English if it’s not our first language. I’ve had international students at uni who refused to speak English to me, which I found very bizarre.

      Like

  21. Good subject of discussion again, Mabel. I used to be incredibly shy. Always quiet and with a small, soft voice. I would say three things changed this. Having children, facing my demons and ageing. I would never have guessed i would become a teacher, standing in front of many people, talking and instructing.
    Many students are shy. Standing in front of the class for a speach could make them faint. I have almost always managed to cure that for them – or rather, helped them to cure themselves. Step by step they gain confidence and the third year at school they are eloquent and sure of themselves. This process is always fantastic to be a part of!

    Like

    • Thanks, Leya. I love it when you stop by. You don’t sound like a shy person at all, so maybe you’re right: growing up and experiencing the joys of life has given you life experiences and made you more confident.

      I remember once when I was a kid, about seven years old, I was asked to sing a song in front of the class. I was mortified and held up the lyric book right over my face so my classmates couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see them. Step by step to gaining confidence is something I agree with you. Holding eye contact, steady speech, steady hands, heartbeat are all things we need to learn how to control when we want to become more confident.

      Like

      • I do love stopping by! TIME is what I’m short of only…always. Your singing experience is quite typical – I guess you’re not like that anymore! Time and experience will cure many things…and the efforts to put yourself in difficult situations to learn from them.

        Like

        • Thanks, Leya, for stopping by and the encouragement. One day I hope to be a public speaker who doesn’t stutter and stumble over my words. There, my motivation to be less shy. Speaking of time, I can’t wait to spend some time looking at your blog this weekend! I have a few days off from work!

          Like

  22. Shyness can be a trap, or a protective mechanism. Shyness, embarrassment and silence are different things. The important thing is to not let it ruin your life. There’s a time and place for everything, and it sounds like you’ve made some positive steps.

    Like

  23. There is nothing wrong with being introverted as long as it is how you want to be. Because of my red hair, as a child, I was teased a lot and was very shy and anxious around strangers as a result. But I always felt loved by my family and friends, which helped my confidence. I grew out of my shyness but am still not much of a talker and don’t get my energy from being around big groups of people.

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that you were teased because of your red hair as a kid – and it made you shy around people too. Being around people who understand us and what we go through as shy people can be a bit help. I have friends who would just drag me to do this and that when I say I’m “too shy” to do so. Sometimes we shy and quiet people like to observe others, so when we’re in a big group of people, there’s so many people to observe and maybe that’s why we get tired 🙂

      Like

    • Can’t tell that you’re an introvert at all. You seem very outgoing in your posts. I’ve tried faking being outgoing before, and you’re right, it takes up a lot of metal energy. Always focusing on sounding upbeat, thinking ahead of what to say next, should I change the topic to continue the conversation… It’s so much easier staying in the background.

      Like

      • Yes, I’m definitely more outgoing on my blog. It’s easy when you are starting the conversation about something that you love 🙂
        Because we move a lot I find that I have to be more outgoing then, if for no other reason then to ask where the shops are! I’ve also found if you are new, and you ask a local about their town, they tend to be pretty open and it tends to be a good conversation.

        Like

        • Come to think of it, I don’t feel afraid talking about writing or blogging. I think we’re all proud of what we love, and what we love doing. We have no shame in that. So you’re right 😉

          I’m the kind who likes to look things up online if I’m finding my way around…don’t we all. But if that doesn’t help, of course the other option is to ask!

          Like

  24. You’ve reminded me (also shy) that I keep meaning to read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
    I will say that joining a Toastmasters Club was helpful for me, especially in business.
    Thanks for writing so thoughtfully on this topic. — Sandy

    Like

    • That book sounds interesting. I’ve heard of it before, thanks for reminding me. Need to check it out and get in touch with my inner introvert 🙂 Ah, Toastmasters. I hear you pay a membership fee but have heard from friends that it’s worth every penny – it’s a great club to practice speaking to an audience and network with like-minded people. Sounds like you learnt quite a bit here, good on you 🙂

      Like

  25. First of all… You met Lindsey?! 😮
    😛
    Well, I am well known for my chit-chat habits, I can go on and on about….anything… But my bf is the opposite. He was so shy when we first met that I thought that he is not speaking because he has nothing to say – common mistakes…. Now, he won’t shut up 😀 He is still shy, but to strangers and speaking to more people at once, but I realized that his confidence was costing him not to speak. Or lack of confidence, to say it better. He has opened up soooo much since we’re together and i can see I have a part in this, like he has a part of my change from being always the talker, now I don’t feel the strong need to be the initiator all the time. Sometimes I just sit back and listen and observe, although I have to admit that I don’t feel like in my zone when I do that 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, I met Lindsey and it was the best day of my life. Here is the proof and a blog post I wrote about her:

      https://mabelkwong.com/2013/10/10/how-im-inspired-to-call-myself-asian-australian/

      Sadly, I forgot to tell Lindsey about my blog and how much she inspires me to write – because I was too shy! I hope I get a second chance 😛 She’s touring Europe soon, close to where you are! I hope you get to see her in concert and meet her someday. She is a very nice and polite in person, very easy to talk to.

      The longer you spend time and get to know someone, the more comfortable you will be with them. So it’s natural for the both of you to be less shy around each other 😀 Very nice to see that you and your boyfriend can get along, and these days complement each other so much. Building up confidence can be difficult as sometimes it may be a certain that’s causing you to be shy. For example, fear of people judging them makes some people shy and not want to speak up. You seem to have no problem with that, good on you.

      Like

      • I will check out your post – I have to remember that 😀
        Yeah, me talking to much is also a sign of being nervous, actually when I won’t shut up it is 99% chance that I feel very nervous about something 🙂 Talking is my stress release. And being quiet someone else’s. So it’s pretty much the same 🙂 No, we were never shy around each other, well only in beginning, but he is more quiet in general when we are in a bigger crowd. When we are alone, he won’t zipp it 😀

        Like

        • I hope you will remember to check out the post when you are free. No pressure 😉

          That is interesting to hear, that you say that you are nervous if you talk on and on. Maybe you are feeling a bit shy. Maybe not shy about speaking, but shy about what you’re saying or trying to say 🙂

          Like

  26. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog! I’m a Filipino spending training here in Canberra for three weeks. Sadly, I haven’t adjusted yet because I’m too shy. I feel like my accent isn’t accepted here. But I think it is just me. I wish I could ask you to meet up but I’m afraid Melbourne is too faraway. I’ll be at Sydney next weekend though.

    Like

    • There’s no need to be shy (I am shy too, a lot of people say this to me)! Sorry you feel like you don’t belong, maybe you need some time to adjust to the culture and climate here. I don’t speak with the Australian accent, instead confidently speak in my weird Singapore-Malaysia-a-bit-Aussie accent…and you know what I realised? There are people in Australia who accept who you are.

      Would love to meet up with you, but alas I won’t be in Sydney or Canberra for a while. But you never know what the future holds. Good luck with your training here and hope it goes well.

      And thanks for stopping by, Fatima…or is it Faye? Thanks for the nice words, too

      Like

      • Any would do 🙂 yeah… It’s quite a challenge but I hope I get to break the ice tonight. We’ll be having wine and cheese… Any advice? We don’t do much cheeses and wines back home… Haha

        Like

        • Just be yourself. Pretending to be someone you’re not, you might feel awkward and it might be quite obvious. Talking about hobbies is always a good way to break the ice, too.

          To be honest, I’ve never done a cheese and wine thing or outing. We Australians are a very diverse bunch. I hope it goes well for you and you have a good time 🙂

          Like

  27. First off, sorry for the long post. I like writing as well. : )

    Reading your post made me feel a bit more comfortable with the shyness and anxiety I tend to experience on a daily basis when I meet up with people (or even when I’m simply around them). Great read and very well-written! Thanks. : )

    I definitely think I have that issue of being shy because I’m not used to being around people as much as I probably should be… Well, that and my general anxiety, which definitely affects the social sphere of my life. I’ve had a very multicultural upbringing much like you, and my travels and moving between numerous countries has made it tough to connect with people because my stays are often too fleeting for proper friend/relationship to blossom. This fairly constant state of flux in saying my goodbyes and meeting new faces can result in eventually my giving up to connect at all.

    However, despite that, I’ve started to come out of my shell more after I’ve realised that I won’t become more confident or sociable unless I do something about it and stop waiting for someone else to fix the problems that only I can fix. In addition, I’ve come to realise that even if I am only in this country for a little more than a year, even the smallest social encounters and conversations are worth it! They definitely have the ability to make a day brighter and invigorate the soul.

    Good on you for your honesty about your struggles and for sharing them with us. I really appreciate that! I also think it’s great that you seem to accept who/where you are at this point in life, even with your daily struggles. I’m trying my best to do the same!

    Like

    • So sorry to hear that you struggle with anxiety and shyness too. Having anxiety or some phobia of social situations can certainly make us even more withdrawn than we usually are, leading others to think that we are not shy but even worse, snobbish or proud.

      Travel, moving around and shyness – such a great point there and thank you for bringing it up. On one hand, traveling and meeting new people might be good for one’s self-esteem and some might bask in the number of connections they make over the years. But not all of us are like that. Some of us are introverts and that makes it hard to make connections in the first place.

      Good on you for being more positive about who you are. I hope that you have had the chance to meet a lot of new people and make friends with them as you travel. I personally feel like I’ve become less shy in the last year or so, what with working in customer service and talking to people every day at work.

      Thank you for your kind words and glad you enjoyed this post. It means a lot 🙂

      Like

  28. I have been enjoying all of the discussion. Recently I began helping my friends Troy and Dylan help promote their web series ShyGuys.ca and it has really brought my attention to how different my friends think in everyday situations and how we are all Shy sometimes.

    I am not at all Shy but find my Shy friends apologizing for their lack of social interaction when we go out. It seems wrong to apologize. I’d rather they just owned it, because when they point out how we are different in social situations it just makes me feel like I’m not acting in a considerate or respectful way. Is that how a Shy person interprets me when I move from one group to the next ? Thanks.

    Like

    • “my Shy friends apologizing for their lack of social interaction when we go out. It seems wrong to apologize” That is such an interesting observation, and interesting to hear you feel bad as a non-shy person. I reckon there’s a stigma in some cultures about being shy. For example, in Western cultures it’s more acceptable to speak up and voice your opinion in professional and social situations…so I suppose some of those who do not because of shyness tend to feel guilty or in the wrong.

      Had a look at the web series ShyGuys.ca. Very, very cool and good job.

      Like

  29. One of the benefits of being an introvert is that it forces one to look out for alternate ways to express oneself intellectually. That innate human need for self expression makes us explore various mediums. No wonder some of the most creative people of our times are self-confessed introverts 🙂 Of course this is not to say extroverts can’t be creative.

    Like

  30. This describes me exactly lol
    I’m also a shy asian girl. Actually I can approach strangers , ask questions and that but I just feel intimidated when having small talk with other extrovert people. Especially when someone is too extrovert and loud I can’t get close to them and tend to push them away a bit. I just don’t know why. I make friends better with other shy quiet people since I can be more open with them. My shyness kind of push people away which sucks but I can’t help it. I can’t choose who to be comfortable around 😦
    You’re right that maybe upbringing has to do with this. I grew up getting used to being in the background. When I was a child, when my parents talked, or when other adults talked to each other, I was used to just sitting quietly and listen. And I still do. I’m just comfortable being the audience and I like it that way. Sometimes having to talk a lot really exhaust me. And like you I also have a very quiet soft spoken voice, one that is kinda breathy and weak. I sound like a very fragile person that is easily hurt and I really hate that. But then I can’t change myself .

    I did try throwing myself in the deep by joining a volunteering program for my uni , consists of doing stuff for orientation week. And guess what it was a really horrible odeal for me and I hated it so much that I wished every night for it to quickly end (it went for a week). Firstly all the people who joined it were all so extroverted and loud. I don’t even know how I passed the interview , maybe I’m really good at interviews haha. I can’t count how many time I made a fool of myself by being awkward . The extroverted people really drained out my energy especially when their voices completelly took over mine. It was also an expectation that everyone had to be super energetic and loud and do all the extroverted things like dancing , getting wasted and singing and dancing. To make it worst I had to stay with them in a small cramped room for the entire week. It was like a torture to me so at the end of the week I realised that I just need to embrace who I am and not try to be someone I’m not

    Like

    • ” just feel intimidated when having small talk with other extrovert people” I feel exactly the same way too. I don’t know about you, but aside from being an introvert and shy, I have a small voice. So when it comes to speaking to others who are outgoing with voices louder than mine, for me it is hard to get noticed in the first place, let alone heard.

      So sorry to hear about your experience at orientation week at uni. Maybe the interviewers saw you as a kind hearted person, and hence chose you to help navigate the first year students 🙂 The extroverted activities sound like they wore you down. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the orientation welcome team at uni…but then I realised I would have to put myself out there and didn’t…

      Good on you Sara for putting your hand up for it, and for coming out the other end knowing what you are comfortable with and loving yourself for who you are 🙂

      Like

  31. Wonderful post, Mabel. Like you, I have always been very shy. Back in high school, I would go red in the face every time the teacher called me out to speak in class. I found it difficult to start or maintain conversations with students I weren’t familiar with. On the other hand, that meant I was more observant of my surroundings. I naturally gravitated towards the shy individuals standing alone on the sidelines.

    But now in university I’m doing a media degree and media class is full of confident, radiant people who know what they want and aren’t afraid to express it. Initially, that made me uncomfortable because I felt like very little compared to them. Then I realised that was exactly my problem – I was always comparing myself to others, I was always scared to be judged.

    I wanted to change that, and this started with little things. I started raising my hand in class. I started joining in more, hosting a radio show on campus and writing for the student newspaper. I start being less nervous when striking up conversation with a classmate I barely knew. I still wasn’t (and am not) outspoken but now I have more confidence in myself and I’m not afraid of that confidence. I now realise that being shy isn’t the same as being self-doubtful. Being shy just means you choose to express yourself in a different kind of way.

    Katherine

    Like

    • You summed up being shy very well, Kathering: ‘being shy isn’t the same as being self-doubtful. Being shy just means you choose to express yourself in a different kind of way.’ Spot on, and I agree with that.

      It takes times to realise and get comfortable with being shy, and then more time to be not shy and speak up and stand up. Sounds like your media degree is challenging your shyness but it also sounds like a lot of fun. When it’s fun, you can forget about yourself and being shy, and focus on what you can possibly do.

      Like

Share your thoughts. Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s