I am wallflower. The kind of person who goes for social gatherings, but keeps to myself. I’m that person who only keeps to my small circle of friends. My hands sweat and I become tongue-tied and awkward when I meet new people. But, there is always a part of me that craves to be more sociable, like those who seem to be so comfortable in social situations. Don’t get me wrong, there are perks of being a wallflower (geddit?), and there is certainly nothing wrong with being one, but there are times where I wanted to be more confident and go out of my comfort zone. There are plenty of ways to combat your shyness, here are some methods I used to come out of my shell.
1. Speak Your Mind – 20 seconds at a time
Let me share with you a favourite quote of mine which I try to live by every day.
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
– Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo
If you are anything like me, you think of some really good comebacks or retorts to something that your friend had said. Except they are all in your head. Sounds familiar? Your friends are not mind readers. You are doing a disservice to yourself if you are not verbalising your thoughts, really.
I know that it’s not easy to put yourself out there and break out of your habits. Maybe you can try voicing out 5 things out of the hundreds of thoughts you may have. Anything is a good start! Master that 20 seconds of courage each day and see how it works out for you.
2. Behind Every Loud Person Is Something You Can Learn From
Trust me, you’ll meet gregarious people all the time. These people will push you inside your shell even further. They scare you and you rather not approach them. But just because they are different doesn’t mean they are to be avoided at all costs! Brush off the feeling of inferiority or fear. You will learn that they have so much to share.
If you are who you hang out with, then hanging out with social butterflies will make you more comfortable with voicing out your opinions as well, right? And more often than not, they will approach strangers to start a conversation so you don’t have to! Just ride on the wave and join in on the conversation- a win for us shy people.
3. Start Small And Build Yourself Up
If the thought of having a conversation with a stranger petrifies you, try making small talks first. It can be literally about anything under the sun. “Don’t you think it’s scorching hot today? ” “I love your shoes, where did you get it from?” Believe it or not, I made a really good friend when she complimented my outfit because we share a common interest – fashion. It is, sometimes, really that simple! One thing will lead to another, and your conversation will most likely not end there.
4. Put Yourself In Uncomfortable Situations
Practice makes perfect. As cliche as that sounds, if you don’t push yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable, you will forever be awkward in those circumstances. That is your first step – going for events that you normally wouldn’t. Maybe it is that networking session that scares the living light out of you, or it could be a college reunion that you really want to turn down. Just do it.
And even if the situations turn awkward, don’t leave! When we leave, it reinforces our shyness. Face the situation and turn it into a place of introspection. Ask yourself: What caused me to feel this way? Why do I feel this way? Then, learn from your answers.
5. Accept Rejection
I know that sometimes, it gets a little challenging on your side to act on your fears. You stop making the first move because you fear facing rejection when you try. We need to realise that it’s totally okay to face rejection sometimes. Take it in with a pinch of salt and think of it as a learning process. Don’t fall into the trap of self-blame when things don’t go as you wish. It is not your fault. The situation is just not for you. No experience is a wasted experience. There’s always lessons to be learnt from your them which will help you become more comfortable with any social situations.
For me, I don’t regret the times when I’ve struggled, when I’ve tried and failed. Only by experiencing them all, then you’d finally learn how brave you can be and that all these ‘hurdles’ aren’t that big of a hurdle at all.
Shyness will hold you back in so many different ways. It may take some while, but put yourself out there and you will get there!