In second year University, I caught the eye of a certain basketball player. He was in an English class with me. He was tall, loud, and had the most beautiful blue eyes. I thought he’d be fun to be with. But it was difficult for me to talk to him. He caused me to feel anxious. I knew I had to only become used to his loudness to be comfortable around him, but I never felt relaxed. He didn’t attempt to get to know me better, to make me feel comfortable around him, despite my shyness.
At first, I was so shy I would ignore him, unless I absolutely ran right into him. I only felt this knot in my stomach and I stuttered when I talked to him. I was extremely frustrated with the entire situation by third year university. I finally told the basketball player I liked him. I told him truthfully, I often didn’t talk to him because I was busy taking five courses and working half-time. I tried to get across to him that when I was busy, I was off in my own world. I was attempting to get him to make an effort and ask me out.
I received a funny look from the basketball player for saying ‘I was in my own world,’ even though he rubbed my back to make me feel better. That was the end. I wasn’t a fun girl to him because I wasn’t outgoing and he didn’t understand how busy my life was.
During the years I had this ‘thing’ with the basketball player, I grew used to other girls I didn’t know talking behind my back, calling me names, and being critical of me. I went to a small university and it often felt like high school because young woman became easily jealous over the smaller guy population.
It took me years to get over the preconceived notion that I was shy — a wrong attribute to have. I learned a guy maybe hot and seem fun, but if he didn’t make the effort for you, you shouldn’t waste your time on him. Sometimes I would build a guy I liked up in my mind, as if they were perfect and not a flawed person. I would have been more comfortable being me if I realized I shouldn’t have to try so hard to please a man I liked. Even someone you are attracted to, and makes you nervous, is approachable if you remember they are only human like you.
Also, I learned when I started working, because a person makes you nervous is no reason to ignore them if they haven’t given you a decent reason to avoid them. The exception to this was catty and gossipy women. I learned some woman are going to be touchy even as adults when they should know better than to spread gossip or call names. These women are people whose mean words you should ignore. Better yet, ask them to repeat what they said so you can hear it clearly this time. Embarrass them.
Most significantly, I learned I was not a shy person but a woman who was often an introvert. It didn’t mean I wasn’t social and fun to be with. But I required time alone to ‘recharge my batteries’ while others ‘recharged their batteries’ off the energy of a crowd. I liked small groups better than large noisy functions. I felt and still feel a few trustworthy friends is all a girl needs, even though it is fun to meet new people. I also enjoy working independently, or one on one with people. I am extremely talkative in this kind of situation and I feel a more meaningful connections with others in small group settings.
In my opinion, we have a society which is often centred around extroversion. It’s not an acceptable value because it causes people who identify with introversion to feel that if we are shy and not outgoing, there is something wrong with us. There is nothing about a person that is deficient because they are introverted. Certain people are skilled at hiding their insecurities and may appear outgoing but at heart, they are introverts. Some introverts such as myself are more clearly introverted.
I don’t identify with being a shy girl anymore. I’m a listener, a loyal friend, and an observer. I have no problem stating my opinion or saying no. I am happy to be me in the ‘background’ and not taking center stage. This doesn’t mean I never get noticed. It means the right people notice me and take me as I am. I want to be around people who see introversion as a vital part of society, not a hindrance.
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