I hate being shy. For as long as I can remember I’ve feared standing up in front of people to do a presentation, I’ve worked myself up into a panic about going over to speak to someone new, and I’ve always worried about making an idiot of myself in front of my fellow students when I was at university and work colleagues now I’m working.
My mum was a very shy person aside from when she was with the people she knew best. My dad to some extent is also shy, but he has this way of hiding it and manages to come across as confident, even if inside he’s a nervous wreck. The combination of both parents having shy traits has led me to possibly being extra shy than the both of them. Although I’ve improved and I don’t find it as difficult to make conversation with people I’ve just met, and in some circumstances I’m even able to make the first move and introduce myself to a person, there are still times where my shyness seems to emerge and almost takes over.
My confidence grew a lot at my first job, to the point where I felt like a completely different person compared to my previous self. I could talk to people without worrying what everyone thought of me, without watching my every move in order to avoid myself potentially making a complete idiot of myself, and I was just able to relax and be myself. This might not seem a lot, but compared to the girl who, when living in student halls for my first year of university, used to largely avoid socialising with some of my housemates in the kitchen area we shared in our seven bedroom house, to the extent where I would either eat dinner ridiculously early or ridiculously late in order to get out of what I thought would have been an awkward situation.
The same shyness extended into my lectures and seminars. I had some confidence in the first few weeks of university and managed to make some good friends on my course, but once those friendships were made I very much stuck to those people and sometimes found it hard to branch out to meet others.
In recent months, I feel like in a way I’ve reverted back to my old ways. Gone is the new found confidence I’d been working on since university and into my first full time job. Some days I feel like I’m back at square one. I love my job and the people I work with, but sometimes I just can’t get over how self conscious I feel. There are days when I’m fine. I can chat to my colleagues about everything and anything, I feel confident in what I say and how I put myself across, but even the good days are plagued by the feeling that everyone is judging my every move and thinking behind their smiles that I’m a bumbling idiot.
I have friends at my new job who I can talk to and go out for lunch with, but still I’m plagued by this grey cloud of self doubt that just won’t seem to budge. There are a lot of people who are a lot more confident than me and who have no problem starting conversations with complete strangers, walking over to another persons desk to ask them something work related or simply just talk, who can pick up the phone to someone without shaking like a leaf and nearly dropping the receiver from having sweaty hands. I look at those people and in a way, I envy them.
I wish I had the confidence to do those things, or at least do them without worrying myself sick about them. Hiding behind emails cuts it most of the time, but I wish that I didn’t feel as if I had to hide. The one thing that keeps me safe in doing this is that I can’t make a fool of myself over email, but in person, there is a very strong possibility this could happen.
If a group of colleagues are chatting or having a laugh together I immediately feel like an outcast who doesn’t belong there and therefore should stay away from the situation. Sometimes I force myself to get involved in the conversations, on one hand because I want to, and another because I don’t want people to think I’m not interested or don’t like them. It’s a vicious circle though, because as soon as I do I instantly start worrying that people are annoyed by me or not wanting me to get involved. It’s a constant battle in my head, one that up until six/seven months ago I thought I’d overcome.
My main frustration is that I don’t want people think I’m weird, rude or disinterested in them, it’s the complete opposite. I want to talk, I want to socialise, I enjoy getting to know people, but something just won’t let me. My friends and those who know me I don’t think realise just how shy I can be. I’m my self around them; talkative, fun, socialable and even confident. I just wish I could be myself around everyone, so that everyone could see the real me.