Photo by Pixabay/Nickbar
Being shy isn’t bad. So, how do you overcome shyness?! Well, let me walk you through my story of overcoming it.
I grew up shy for the biggest part of my life. When I was young, my mother didn’t want me to do many things. She was overprotective, so I didn’t have much going for me.
I understand my mother because she was doing her job. I thought that was normal! That many kids will experience when they are young. So, it was already conditioning in my mind. However, it did become so frustrating, that I decided I wanted to change my habit.
So, here I will explain my journey when I have been a shy person and how it might help some of you of overcoming it.
However, I want to explain the advantages and disadvantages of being shy before I explain my journey to success.
The advantages of being shy!
I want to discuss that there are advantages to being shy. Many people view shyness as something negative, but it’s a matter of perspective.
First, being shy helps avoid taking risks. For many people taking risks is a bit dangerous. As an example, you see an opportunity but, you realize that there is a risk for pursuing that opportunity.
- For example, some years ago, a recruiter from the Navy asked me if I wanted to take part in the military. It was a good offer because I can travel and build a life outside of Guam, However, due to my asthma, I was probably already disqualified and I didn’t want to take that risk of being away from my family. Plus, I don’t like the military. That’s why I’m a big fan of One Piece.
Second, being the follower is more comfortable, then leading the way. Some shy people avoid the leadership role because they are afraid that they might botch or feel ashamed when things don’t go the right way. Therefore, their comfort zone is trying to follow orders from others.
- A long time ago, I didn’t like being in the spotlight, so I chose to take orders from people. Sometimes, that is less hassle too. Especially, when I was not feeling well or emotional during that time. There was a time when I was a leader for a group of exchange students. But, I was going through an emotional stress at that time. So, I couldn’t focus, and the program didn’t turn well as I hoped.
The third is avoiding conflict. One of the most obvious of the advantages. Being alert helps people! Who wants to deal with conflict altogether. As human beings, we thrive for a happy life, so why look for conflict.
- Before my transitional my phase from being shy to confident, I avoided many conflicts that dealt with drama, fights, etc. I also avoided helping people, because I was afraid to do anything about their situation. However, there were times where I tried to help others but didn’t go my way, which I will explain in my future post. So, being shy helps with avoiding any unnecessary drama.
Fourth, being able to not react to unnecessary gossips, popularity, etc. Some shy people don’t care about being popular, because it’s a waste of time. Since many people who are shy have many things to do in their lives, why waste time gossiping and doing meaningless chit-chat.
- Being shy was great during these times! I remember people would gossip and I would just listen to them for the amusement. And this would happen often in the club that I joined. But, for the most part, I just brush it off and not think of it too much. It was just a waste of time, so I would just do my thing.
Fifth, you focus on your hobbies more. When I wasn’t invited to parties in middle school and high school, I took my time to practice martial arts. So, while the kids enjoyed themselves in their own free time, I trained instead! Plus, I was able to bond with my family.
- At that time between 2014 and 2015, I was just a loner. So, I focused on doing my homework. I became more productive in the long run. Plus, I was able to meditate more.
Sixth, shy people are more approachable. Being shy gives you this non-threatening aura around you. Many people approach me for directions or ask questions. I think it’s that innocence that surrounds a shy person, due to the vulnerability.
- It goes both ways for me, either intimidating or easily approachable. I didn’t pose any threat to anyone and I didn’t have any intentions to hurt others. And I see that with many shy people! They are very approachable if people just allowed some of us to connect.
Seventh, you become a good listener, which allows people to trust you more. Being shy allows a person to listen more and appreciate the other person‘s viewpoints. “People love talking about themselves” – some stranger.
- This is a very powerful tool! I was able to build meaningful relationships by just listening. Because people love to express themselves because we are social animals. Interestingly, if you know how to listen, then people will open up and share their stories to you. Even personal ones!
Eighth, you become self-aware. Although I met some shy people lacking in self-awareness, however, there are others who have it.
- I was lonely, and I didn’t know whom to talk with. The first time that I joined the club at college, I didn’t have many friends. Despite many people being there, not many did try to speak with me besides a few people. I was in my own little world, which helped me internalize more. I became more in tune with myself it helped me become aware of the person I am.
- Ninth, enjoying your alone time. Honestly, I love being alone! I can have time to process. It‘s about treating and showing care for yourself. I know it sounds strange, but it feels amazing just allowing yourself to be your own person.
Ninth, enjoying your alone time. Honestly, I love being alone! I can have time to process. It’s about treating and showing care for yourself. Just be yourself, it feels amazing!
- I enjoy spending time with people, but to me, nothing beats a good relationship with yourself. Being shy made me appreciate life. I love being alone and it helps me visualize about my dreams. I love to dream! Being away from people made me happy too. Therefore, being shy helped me become independent in my right. Plus, it helps with meditation because distractions are not always pleasant.
Finally, you appreciate your relationships! Shy people struggle to find friends that could accept us truly. So, when we meet people, we always cherish what we have and not toss each other like garbage. Because in today’s era, where social media is prominent, friendships end up being like toys. What happens if you get tired of your old toy? You just throw it away. Shy people don’t ride like that. Relationships are important to us!
- I cherish what I have with people, especially today. I became more appreciative with my family, friends, etc. I even appreciate my pets. It’s okay for me to go to parties from time to time, but it’s always better if I spend my energy with the people who care for me. Sometimes, you might get invited to a party, but you might feel out-of-place or see people who might drain the life out of you. That is self-respect!
Disadvantages of being shy!
This is where people agree that being shy is a disadvantage. That’s how the world sees it. But what can we do? Well, focus on you! So here are the disadvantages.
First, opportunities pass us by. For many shy people, this is what happens. Sometimes, we miss out on opportunities or chances because we didn’t take enough risks.
- I missed out on some opportunities because of my shyness. In high school, I wanted to ask a girl out to prom, but I didn’t have the courage to even ask her. I was just in my head thinking scenarios without any real action.
- How I did I get over this? I just speak whatever thought comes into mind. If you want to say “Wow the room stinks….” then say it! Anything that pops into mind. However, initiating is the challenge, due to fear.
- Of course, there is always a line to not cross, so be careful too. But other than that it’s okay. It might take practice at first, but you will get used to it. You are expressing your feelings and the only risk involve are people’s opinions, which shouldn’t bother you.
Second, not as many friends (I guess). This is common for some people. You end up meeting fewer people, therefore miss out on potential friends that could change your life.
- This is obvious for me because I was always the loner of every group that I was part of. Therefore, I didn’t make many friends during my years. Was it sad? Just a bit! I didn’t have much courage to speak too, so that was not good.
- How I overcame was very simple! Wherever I see a person passing by, I would look at them in the eye and smile back at them. If they smile or say Hi great, then you can decide to talk to them. If not, then it’s okay you move on. By me doing this, it helps ease any tension, which helps close the gap between whomever I greet. Moreover, I made friends by just doing this haha. You can take it a step forward by saying hi to them as they pass by. I have made my own trademarks, that work for me.
Third, SOMETIMES shy people are not able to stand their ground and expression. Although there comes a time when we have to stand up for what we believe in. However, being shy hinders that ability to do so.
- This is true when trying to express how you feel. I felt frustrated when I am trying to express my opinion, but can’t do at times because I was too shy.
- How did I overcome this? I believe it was 2014, I started debating about frictional stuff like Goku vs. Superman. Sometimes, I would debate about Mayweather vs Pacquiao haha. So I created an account in one of the forum sites because I was a little pissed off with some of the people. At first, I was nervous, but as I kept debating with some opposing fans, it became easier as I kept going back and forth with them. So, I feel it’s a good first step and If you are feeling comfortable enough, then you can start expressing yourself with other people face to face. You can start small and build yourself up.
Fourth, being a lap dog. There were times I was in this place when I was very young. People can take advantage of your shyness. People believe that shy people will not retaliate, therefore, they will make use of them. It happens for some, especially those that might not have developed a strong-minded attitude.
- How I overcame this? Just say, “No.” That’s it! By saying ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do. Before I kept saying to everything, even though I didn’t want to do some of the things they were telling me. So, I just expressed myself.
- So if someone tells you to do something and you don’t want to do it, just say NO. Simple! You actually gain more self-respect for yourself and in turn, gain respect from others. You are expressing your truth.
Fifth, not being as popular. Shy people might not get as popular because many are always under the radar. Many favored being in the spotlight.
- Seventh grade was the first time that I heard about the concept of popularity because people were watching some weird stuff like MTV, reality shows, etc. Kids wanted to imitate stuff they see on TV. I was never popular because I couldn’t relate to them. Some people thought I was weird because I watched anime, dramas, played Yugioh and watched/did martial arts.
- So how did I overcome this? Well, I got the taste of being popular, during my time in the club. When I did get popular, I wanted more of it. However, it was a short-lived pleasure because I didn’t feel enough within myself. Many people just kept coming and going! So, every time the session ended, I would feel a bit sad and impatient. However, in early 2017, I got over it. It was when I started gaining self-love for myself.
Sixth is lacking in confidence. This one is obvious! You can’t have one or the other. This is the one thing that shy people wish to fully do. Going from shy to feeling confident with myself, it was hard work. It wasn’t just hand down on a silver platter.
- This is obvious for me. Or else I wouldn’t say that I was shy in the first.
- How I did I overcome this? Rejections and taking risks was a reason. Sometimes, we have to allow our hearts to hurt to realize what we deserve. I started not caring what people think about me. It was a long journey, and it was not a handed down. Most importantly, love yourself and speak your truth! I recommend doing some deep breathing before any events and if you are feeling nervous, then go to the bathroom and do deep breathing exercises.
Seventh, overthinking what people will do or say. This is true on some degrees. Because shy people are in their own world, which they tend to play events in their heads whether it being from the past, present, or future. There are always what ifs, should have, could have, etc.
- Being the shy person led me to over think many scenarios in my head that sometimes were not real. Or were they? Joke haha. Anyways, I didn’t talk to many people and I was basically alone every time. So, many times I would fantasize strange thoughts and it led to insecurities.
- How I did I deal with this? Deep breathing and meditation. When I do deep breathing, I let go of any tension in my body and focus on release any negative thoughts that don’t serve me. I focus on replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. I do this for at least 5 minutes and sometimes I went 10 minutes or more. Also, listen to your body. If you have tension on a specific part of your body, then something is bothering you internally.
Eighth, shy people might not take inspired action. It’s not because of laziness, but in trying to find the courage to take action. It’s more about fear and when you have fear, you tend to freeze. And this goes back to overthinking things, which will lead to not taking forward action.
- Being shy didn’t help my self-esteem at all. So, I felt discouraged at times to do much in my life at that time. I didn’t even know what I wanted in my life, and I was a bit lazy. Motivation was not there for me.
- How did I overcome this? When I started joining the club and spending time with the exchange students, I began to understand what I want in my life. When I understood what I wanted, I began to look for things to learn about the goal I want to do. For me, I wanted to carry out something in my day, even if it’s small and isn’t being afraid to go for it. And if you don’t have a goal yet, then focus on your hobby. So, that’s what I did.
Problems for being shy for me
As I said, I was a shy person throughout my life. In elementary, I was that big, quiet kid that tried to fit in with the other children. I think my shyness developed when people started calling me names like pig, fat, slow, etc. Plus, I did get bullied many times, but I never told my family, which is not the best idea. It’s better to find people whom you trust when you are going through tough times, especially if you can’t cope with a bad situation by yourself and just talk to them.
I remember I got into fights back when I was 9 years old because they knew I was too timid to do anything about it. However, the good thing about getting beat up (which is still unpleasant), my father finally thought me how to fight.
In middle school, I was less shy here, but I was a little quiet. I think it’s because I knew how to fight and I knew that I could hold my own with anyone in middle school haha. Anyways, it was still a little difficult to hold a conversation, but I had fun with the friends I had. I still didn’t get invited to any parties that some kids were having, but it didn’t mind me. Of course, there was some trouble making kids that wanted to pick a fight with me because I was shy and timid, but glad it diffused right away. Overall, middle school was pretty good.
In high school, I was literally the last person that people thought about. No joke! I asked one of my friends and told me and he said that some people don’t care about you, because I was too reserved. Now that was painful to hear at that time. I remember, there was a party with one of the girls from the rugby team. I thought I would be invited because I spoke with this girl many times, but I wasn’t. The great thing about it, I trained and sparred with my father that night during the birthday party.
In college, I was pretty shy and insecure in my early years as well. For every class in the first few years, I was silent like a slug. I didn’t interact at all. It’s like I didn’t care about life. Although I did make friends in those first years. But, it wasn’t that deep. I never tried to do much of anything besides school, martial arts, going home and doing homework. Plus, I was struggling with deciding on which major I should choose.
That was my life in college in the first few years. But one day in 2014, I decided to go to an event in the field house of my university because one of my friends gave me a flier and told me to visit the field house. It was a gathering of many clubs. Plus, I haven’t joined a club yet, so I wanted to check it out. I was looking for my friend, and I saw her promoting her club, but she was too busy to talk. So, I just turned the other way because I was too shy to interact with her and disturb. The moment I turned, I saw a club that was interesting, but weird too. They were wearing a Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes) and other accessories. I walked up to their stand and signed my name on the sheet they had. And that was the beginning of a major change.
Did I just sign up for a club?!
Well, there you go! I finally did something worthwhile in my college career. There is no turning back now. I signed up for a club called the International Friendship Club (IFC). It’s a club that helped international students study English in Guam. So, the clubs job is to accommodate them and help with their English journey.
Also, my sister signed up in the same club, which is good for us. Anyways, we went to a workshop for the club. I was nervous, and it was hard for me to meet and interact with other people there. The club is about touring international students from other countries. After, the introduction we did some activities, which was not comfortable haha. However, the people were good and we made friends with a few of them. Quite welcoming and a good first impression for me.
The activities were great, but my shyness held me back tremendously. In this club, you need to open up, outgoing and whatnot. So it was a struggle for me! Even among the club members felt uncomfortable, I was having a hard time. Also, here is another thing, being shy as a male is much different from a female who is shy. Sure, the girl might face some problems of being shy, but in my experience, it’s different. For a girl, it’s viewed as cute and innocent, while a guy it’s viewed the wrong way, at least in my experience.
What a journey it is!!
Honestly, I thought about quitting the club countless times in 2014 and going in 2015. Plus, I was only experiencing the short-term school that was coming instead of the long-term schools.
* NOTE: Short-term schools are schools from other countries that study abroad for a short time. Long-term schools are schools from other countries that study abroad for about 2 weeks to 1 month. Long terms usually come during Summer and Winter seasons, while short terms usually come in during Spring and Fall.*
So, I was struggling already with the students and the club members. However, in early January 2015, I met a really wonderful friend that will turn the tides for me, the first catalyst.
Let’s call her by the name of RA. RA was an exchange student that stayed for 6 months to study in Guam (The place where I live. Sorry I forgot to mention). We met at the club orientation for new members and she was with a friend. They were nice people and we got really close as time went by, especially RA. I remember she wanted to go to the flea market but I kept refusing because I was insecure and shy to even hang out.
But, we would still see each other in the club, and it was fun. For the first time in the club, I felt at ease and it didn’t feel uncomfortable. RA and I always interacted, and this happened for months. Then, I started to like her, which was the last thing that could happen. However, I was too late. She already liked someone else. Anyways, I will explain in detail how I felt during these times in my next article about Heartbreak. And I will explain the process of a heartbreak, dealing with it, and the type of person you can become. When she left, I was hurt.
It felt so heavy in my heart, and it was hard for me to accept at that time. But once I did accept it, that’s when I started changing unconsciously. Like there was a switch in my mind and it clicked. Of course, I was still very insecure and shy, but it was a big change.
Anyways, after she left in June 2015, there were schools from Korea that will come. I was indifferent. I wasn’t focused on them at that time.
So, when they arrived, the number of students overwhelmed and the interactions with them. But when am I hanging out with the students, I wasn’t as shy and I didn’t realize it. I was having fun, but my timidness was still there. And this happened in every school that came in for the next 3 years. Of course, with every school came with every struggle.
Also, one thing that helped me overcome shyness is to embrace that I am shy. For example, I was talking to a group of people during one of the opening ceremonies for the club. I told them, “Hey, I’m a shy person and I am nervous now.” and when I said that they began to laugh and giggle. They started to get comfortable with me because I wasn’t trying to act what I am not. I wasn’t trying to be the “Man” or be the “Party guy.” I was being myself and I was really nervous. Plus, it helped boost my self-esteem.
As I continued to meet new people and interact with them, I become more and more confident. With every international school that came, I learned more about them as people, their culture, and myself. I took every situation as a learning experience. So, I was a different person every season with meeting new schools. Not to mention different situations with the club members, which helped mold me. It was great because there was a mixture of emotions, such as excitement, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. It wasn’t boring because it wasn’t predictable.
I want to share a tool that can help anyone that is feeling nervous, feel more relax and a good confidence booster. It’s a technique that I use before social gathering or presentations.
Breathing exercise to release tension and nervousness!!
Of course, there were times that I would reach a heavy plateau in which I never seem to get out of. Sometimes, you will feel nervous in different situations, and you can’t help it. So, I found ways of releasing the tension, which makes me feel more energized and more confident. Here are the steps:
- Go to a place where you are comfortable and that no one can disturb you.
- Next, you stand up comfortably and make sure you have good posture.
- Then, you place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Just behind your front teeth.
- Inhale for 4 seconds through your nose as deeply as you can.
- Hold it for another 4 seconds and then exhale through your mouth.
- As you exhale through your mouth, you will begin to tighten your stomach by sucking in your belly. At the same time, tighten your buttocks, and you’ll notice your pelvic shifting forward as you exhale.
- DO this for at least 5 minutes. Once you finished, you will feel renewed and you can go back to your social gathering.
I do this when I feel low in energy or feeling shy and nervous. Breath is your life force! Of course, there are other techniques out there, but this one stuck with me and had success with it. And I use this technique to manage stress and feel grounded. You will know if you feel grounded if your voice gets slightly deeper. I discovered this technique when I was about to present in front of the class because I was so nervous at that time. So, one of my mentors taught me this technique, and I feel good every time I do it.
SO what did I learn from the JOURNEY?
Looking back, I was like “Wow! That was me, huh? Haha.” Because it was a long journey. Every semester was a different me. Well, maybe a more improved version of myself every semester and I always came with new tools. I would refine myself and replace habits that didn’t serve me. I remember, my mentality was “I need to get out of here,” but now it’s more “I will find a way in this situation.”
Throughout my journey of overcoming shyness, it was a fun-filled roller coaster ride. It wasn’t as easy as you might expect. There were many peaks and lows that confused the heck out of me. And there were times that I had a flat line or plateau as you might say. But that is normal throughout the process because if you don’t feel those moments of being on the bottom, then you won’t learn to take action on finding ways of overcoming plateaus. And when you find ways to overcome them, you learn more things to deal with them on your own terms. Plus, it feels great to work hard on your own terms without anyone holding our hands for us.
You realize as a shy person that through success and failures, you feel good about it. It’s like you cherish every moment as a gift. Of course, at first negative situations will stick to you like glue for a while, but once you emotionally let go, you will feel peace, happiness, and you become more confident.
As a shy person, as long as we do the tasks that we struggled with, it makes us feel accomplished, even though it was an utter failure. There are no complaints at all. We prove ourselves and it showed how much heart that we have. For example, some of us may struggle in public speaking, but there are classes need for you to do it, so you have no choice but to do it. We end up doing it and even though it was not that good, you can feel that sense of fulfillment and that what makes you happy.
You start to learn things about yourself more. For example, you find ways and techniques that help you to overcome shyness, like the breathing technique that I showed you earlier. When you are struggling, but can’t find the solution to your current situation, you tend to seek it out. And by seeking it out, you discover hidden talents that are hidden all along.
You begin to embrace your past, present, and future self. You look at yourself and you just give yourself a big hug for doing great things.
Regardless of if you are shy or not, embrace what you are. Always remember that you are always enough. The more you accept it, the more you will feel better with yourself. Believe me!
Thank you, everyone, for reading/listening and I believe you can all get through this.
Leave a comment if you have any questions regarding your struggles and I will be happy to help.