When I think about meeting new people, I feel like I should be excited. What if that person is genuinely interested in meeting me? What if they ask me questions about myself, and I want to ask questions back? Most of the time, however, I just feel shy.
If someone is asked to describe me, the first word they usually think of is “chill.” I admit it, I’m pretty chill. Not much phases me, and if something does trigger my emotions, it’s for a reason. I’m proud that people think I’m chill, because being able to think and act calmly and collectively is an underrated skill.
When I’m faced with meeting new people, however, they always seem to poke through my usually thick skin. I’m not talented at conversing with new people. (Hey, at least I share this weakness with Mr. Darcy). Though I’ve gotten far better at adapting to new situations, thanks to college and studying abroad, I still tend to like routine in my daily life. For example, I write because writing is the routine of molding words, while I get nervous about talking because talking is the art of one-time words, that you can't edit or delete after you've said them. This tendency to lean towards routine is reflected in my social interactions. Once I generally know how a person acts— how they talk, how they approach certain subjects, how they use body language—I feel comfortable opening up. When surrounded by familiar people, I feel like I can relax, be myself, and not worry about saying the wrong thing.
However, when surrounded by a group of people I don’t know or at least not well, I feel myself close up. I overthink how to introduce myself, how to start a conversation, and how to respond. I do much better when another person approaches me and initiates a conversation. It helps boost my confidence knowing that a person wants to meet me or interact with me. However, I still worry about overcoming the hump of transferring words from my mind to my voice, since I always feel like I nod too much and say too many “uh-huhs” while talking to people.
I’ve found that mentally focusing on untwisting my tongue helps. If I try to erase the mental and physical block and avoid over preparing what I’m going to say, it becomes much easier. I also focus on positivity. I figured out that body positivity is incredibly important. I used to be very self-conscious about how I looked and how I acted, and this was reflected in my hunched shoulders and crossed arms. If I focus on standing up straight (even though I'm barely even 5' 2") and assume the body position of positivity, it automatically sends confident signals to my mind and body. Liking and feeling comfortable in your clothes also helps, but being comfortable in your own skin helps more.
My shyness causes me to live in my own head a lot of the time. This only contributes to my chillness. While sometimes I worry that I’ll cool off a little too much and dip into the cold end, I have to remind myself that shyness is a part of my personality. I also have to remember that how I feel I’m perceived and how I’m actually perceived are entirely different. My friends and family remind me that I’m not too awkward and I'm not cold. I try my best to warm up to conversations and new acquaintances.
So how do I stay chill? I don't let myself get worked up when it comes to trivial matters, and I try to be at peace with my shyness.