I used to only speak if spoken to, unless I knew the person already. I was braver online, since having a computer screen between the other person and me provided a cushion if I got rejected, but I hesitated at social activities.
I’m pleased to say that within the past month, I’ve initiated conversations twice with someone at a social activity. When I went to a sci-fi/fantasy Meetup, I joined a side conversation that a couple of people were having about Godzilla movies, asking a couple of questions about what they thought of one of the versions they mentioned. When I went to a group activity at the park on Friday, I asked someone afterwards how she liked trying Frisbee. I have doubts about how good of a conversation starter that was, but it broke the ice, and we wound up talking about our career goals.
I also put myself out there to reconnect with a couple of old friends. I ran into one friend, Kellie, at a bookstore, and I invited her to coffee. We had a good time catching up and I’ll get to see her once more before she moves to another state. I added another old friend, Clare, on Facebook. She was willing to schedule a Facebook chat session with me, and I got to learn about what it’s like to teach elementary school and her love of stories about strong women. She told me about her journey overcoming shyness, and it was nice that someone could relate to me about it.
What got me to start working through my shyness was my need to socialize. If my life was a Sims game, my social bar would’ve been in the red. I felt compelled to reach out to others cuz my loneliness became a stronger problem than my shyness. I have a desire to know people and for them to know me. I love finding nuggets of information about people, like that Kellie wants to become an outdoor therapist, helping people work through their problems in nature.
It helps me to think about how putting myself out there will create more opportunities to connect with others than I would’ve had otherwise. While not everyone will wanna connect, I remind myself that lots of people are also looking for friendship, or at least would be receptive to it, so there’s a chance that a connection will form if I try.
While I’m phasing out of being shy and into being outgoing, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being shy. If someone is shy, and it interferes with their goals, it’s okay if they wanna change, like I did. If someone is shy, and they’re okay with taking longer to form relationships with people, that’s an equally valid way to be.