For as long as I can remember, I have wished to be less shy. Ever since I was a little girl, I would give myself pep talks, reminding myself to talk more, be more friendly and be less afraid of making the wrong impression. Almost every time, I would go to whatever social setting- a birthday party, school, summer camp, and I would try super hard for about three seconds, and then I would slip back into my old, reserved self. I would often be frustrated with myself and could not imagine why it was so difficult for me to put myself out there more. It was not that I was bad at making friends or in any way out of place in my social situations, it was just that I needed more time.
Unlike some people around me or kids on TV, I took time to warm up to people. I would make friends eventually, and open up around people, but it just took more than one encounter. Despite understanding that was how I was, I still tried to change. That is until a friend from high school pointed out that maybe what I had always counted as a flaw was actually a good thing.
We were talking one night about how much our lives had changed between freshman and senior year. We discussed the new people we had met and the different relationships we had formed. Now this friend was someone that I had always admired for her friendliness and openness, she is the type of person who makes friend with people immediately. But as we recounted her experiences she said to me, I feel like I became friends with a lot of people in the beginning, but you made more friendships that last, She proceeded to tell me that that was something she admired about me: the fact that I always held back a little before letting people in, that I wasn't so out there right away.
I was shocked to hear that she admired a part of me that I so wanted to change. More than that, I could not believe that she actually had a valid reason to do so. I started thinking that she was right, maybe she had more fun at the beginning of things, but rushed relationships could often be superficial or not a good match. I realized that being shy protected me from that because it gave me a chance to listen and observe and find people who I truly felt comfortable around.
Seeing myself from this new perspective truly changes my life, as it got me to stop trying to change myself. Knowing that a part of my personality that I used to see as a drawback, could actually be used for my own good, got me to love and accept myself more. I recognized that the reason I had tried so hard to be openly extroverted and outgoing was because I wanted to make sure I had great friends. I realized that all along that was never what I needed; I just needed to learn to understand why I am the way I am and love myself for that.