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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shy, like me.

In life and in general, they say that strength is in numbers. Growing up with no siblings, I could understand that. It was hard enough to go through life's inevitable changes such as moving, new schools and adolescence but I think when you journey through with a sibling, you bounce back a little easier.

Think of the animal kingdom who travel in packs. It's not natural to be by oneself although later in life, it's amazing how much we relish our alone time. Me personally, I rejuvenate from a long and stressful day by myself or with my husband at home relaxing. There are two types of people: those that revive their energy being surrounded and those that revive their energy with their own company. Some people are a fine balance of both.

There are many advantages to being an only child. I'm not complaining or blaming. I like to analyze why people are the way they are and figure out where they came from. Your past always shapes who you are in some form or another.

Those I am closest to know that I am somewhat of a shy person and those that don't know me think I'm an outgoing and confident person. I suppose I'm somewhat of a mix however when I read articles like the ones I am about to describe, I'm more inclined to tick off the "introvert" box in the survey. Alternatively, I am the craziest and zaniest personality when I'm comfortable and unguarded. Those that know me will relive and retell hilarious stories and those that don't, wonder what I'm really all about.

I bought Oprah's Big Book of Happiness on sale at Home Sense for $9.99 (what a deal). I don't subscribe to her magazine and I rarely watch her show, or the affiliated Dr. shows. I do however love my latest purchase which discusses topics such as mind, body, dating, relating, confidence, finances and health. It exposes such personal topics as depression, divorce, debt, rape, pregnancy, adoption, alcoholism, bad bosses and celebrity confessions.

What really spoke to me, in an age of ballsy, corporate driven women, was an entire chapter devoted to the one thing you assume everyone has: confidence. One article, which spoke specifically about shyness, really had me at the opening paragraph. Below are some excerpts from the article I found interesting.

p.s. Did you know that social anxiety and fear of being judged is the #1 phobia in all of North America, even ranked ahead of dying? That's right and that's crazy. People would rather die than say the wrong thing. Okay, that's a little extreme but you get the point.

We should really lighten up on each other, because we're all more alike than we realize. We all try our best, we all want to be accepted and we all just really want to matter.

We're not alone, and what a relief.

Relax...You are getting bolder, by Beverly Donofrio

* "A few years ago when I complained to my latest, greatest, and now past therapist that I didn't want to go to some party I was invited to, I'd be bored, have nothing to say to people-whom I wouldn't like and who wouldn't like me-she pinned me with her penetrating gaze and said, 'You're a shy person.' "

* "I didn't believe my therapist. Shy adults can't make eye contact; they dress plainly and turn red if you compliment them. I am not like that at all. I can be a flamboyant dresser, I meet your eye, and positively glow from attention and praise. I can even, if in the mood, be gregarious."

* "At the bar, I struck up a conversation with the couple sitting beside me. They were tourists in my town, and when they told me they were thinking of returning for a month in the summer, I suggested that they might like to rent my house because I'd be away then. We made a date for them to come by on Sunday at 2 in the afternoon. The next morning, no longer under the influence of the beta-blocker, I had a mini breakdown."

* "That night I couldn't sleep for recalling all the times shyness had tripped me up. I'd gone to Guatemala to study Spanish for three weeks and never once struck up a conversation with anyone the entire time-in Spanish or in English. I'd noticed the starving street dogs and how they slunk around anticipating a kick, and on a particularly low day I decided I was like them."

* "A few weeks after Amy told me about being hypnotized, I sat next to a Lacanian analyst at a dinner party who said, 'Psychoanalysis doesn't work; hypnotism does.' "

* "You're going to change in ways you can't even imagine. This will affect your entire life. Even as I realized that Debbie had just planted a suggestion, the possibility of being comfortable in my own skin sent a tingly sensation right through me."

* "I decided to smile at everyone I passed. I was now middle-aged and my smiles were not likely to be misconstrued as come-ons. People smiled back. It felt pretty good. I spread a little joy. It hadn't been my intention, but it was the effect. And that's when I discovered something profound about shyness. It's a little self-involved. How can you ever think about the other person if you're so busy worrying about yourself?"

* "A few days after I came back home, I went to a dance and made a date to meet a man at a chocolate factory. The chocolate was deep, dark, and delicious. The man turned out to have a Mexican girlfriend. Even conquering shyness didn't make life perfect, but it has made it more interesting, and now when I feel like being a wet blanket, I know it's my choice."

The cure for self-consciousness, by Martha Beck

* "Most of us occasionally dream about being embarrassed in social settings. But even in waking life, many of us operate as if Simon Cowell is doing a play-by-play of our work, wardrobe, and snack choices. One team of researches has dubbed this phenomenon the "spotlight effect." In the beam of imaginary spotlights, may of us suffer untold shame and create smaller, weaker, less zestful lives than we deserve."

* "In one experiment, they had college students enter a room with other students while wearing an "embarassing" T-shirt. When the mortified students were asked to guess how many people in the room would remember the face on their T-shirt, they gave a number about twice as high as the number of students who actually remembered the shirt."

* "In the long run, people most often regret the things they failed to try, rather than the things they bombed at."

* "Once, I had an intense, emotional cell phone discussion with a friend while riding in a taxi. At a certain point I fell into a strangled silence. 'What's wrong with you?' my friend asked. 'Why aren't you talking?' Covering my mouth with one hand, I whispered, 'The driver can hear me.' At this point my friend said something so lucid, so mind expanding, so simultaneously socratic and Zenlike, that I memorized it on the spot My friend said--and I quote: 'So?'

This brilliant interrogatory challenged me to consider the long term consequences of being embarrassed (really, who cares?)"

"If I say what I really think, people might disagree with me. So? If I leave my drunken abusive husband, his crazy family will call me a bitch. So? If I go windsurfing, I'll look like a klutz. Plus, people will see my cellulite."

So? So what. Who the hell cares.

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