The other day, I intentionally laid in a vegetative state to avoid human contact. The Thanksgiving interactions, along with those that had transpired throughout the semester, left me exhausted. The weight of day-to-day socialization finally came crashing down, serving as motivation to cease the "Hi's" and "How are you's" for 24 hours. I was at my wits end.
But you wouldn't know that if you saw me at the mall, facilitating a conversation with an acquaintance or friend. You wouldn't know that 60% of the time, anxiety pulsates in unison with my rapidly beating heart in the midst of listening to stories about your college experience.
More often than not, I muster all my internal strength to be outgoing and put myself out there on a pedestal even when my true desire is to remain in a solitary cocoon. Truthfully, I need breaks from people at various parts of the day or for some period of time. This is the essence of a shy person's daily struggle.
So on behalf of all the shy people out there, I want to address that.
1. Meeting people is difficult, and it takes time for us to become transparent and develop trust.
An unfathomable amount of thoughts race through our minds, often crippling and suffocating our ability to start the first conversation. Formulating an introduction alone and planning its delivery can be daunting, so bear with us if we come off quiet. We're really trying.
But despite being introverts, we crave meaningful relationships and will show our true selves over time. You'll soon find out just how much we value trust and just how trustworthy we are. We want you to do the same.
2. The thought of presenting, going to a networking event, interviewing, or any job-related event causes severe agita.
Putting up a facade in order to appear extroverted is petrifying. We want to project a sociable image, but deep down we're dying for the torture known as "forced interaction" to end. Please spare us—we're hard workers who prefer residing in the outskirts far away from epicenters of socialization.
3. Leadership positions? No thank you.
For the outgoing person, congratulations. Chances are, you'll feel stressed for a moment when given a management role and that stress will quickly subside. For us shy people, however, taking on leadership positions feels like an early, unforeseen death. We're not bad at exerting control, we just have to work extra hard to deal with apprehension and discomfort.
4. We prefer to workout alone.
Gym buddies do not exist in our lives. With headphones and music on full blast, we'd like to transform our treadmills into comforting abodes. Please do not infiltrate our space.
5. We need alone time in general.
Sometimes socialization can be burdensome. Really, really burdensome.
6. But that doesn't mean we don't like people.
Friends and family provide us with great joy. We are forever grateful for the people who understand and love us for simply being us. As much as we love alone time, we occasionally crave socialization.
7. We're sorry if we come off as "standoffish."
You may mistake our shyness for aloofness, indifference, and rudeness. We can't emphasize enough that this is not the case. We're a bit more reserved in disposition, and I promise, we mean no harm.
8. We're not the best at initiating plans.
Because organizing and then participating in these plans creates tremendous anxiety before they even take place.
9. A room full of strangers can lead to our demise, but many of us try to barrel through.
The handshakes. The awkward hugs. The infamous "side kiss." The ice breakers. These can only be described in one phrase: A living nightmare. Yet we don't want to necessarily become a recluse, so we use armors of courage to defend ourselves in these situations.
10. We pick up on every little thing, making many of us highly sensitive and overanalyzers.
Every nuance, every gesture, every word, and every action is interpreted. We're so aware of our surroundings and can perceive our environments and your feelings based on context clues.
11. We're great listeners.
If you have a lot to say, come to us. We will listen and listen and listen.
12. We're not flawed.
People constantly view shyness as a burden, and while it may be encumbering, it certainly does not denote a defect in character. Shyness is a part of our identities, but that's it—a mere part. We're more than one trait. Treat us as such.