If you haven’t known me for a long time you’d never guess that I was painfully shy as a child. I struggled at making friends and often found myself without a partner when told to pair up. My mom often came home from a school curriculum night after hearing that my teachers forgot about me because I acted like I didn’t exist. I never got invited to anything because the other kids in my grade forgot about me too. My voice was unheard, feelings silenced, and worries hushed. I was completely and utterly inside my own head. I stayed that way for most of my elementary and middle school years and even my freshman year of high school. Change came very slowly and then toppled on me all at once. It started with volunteer work; I was forced to work with people for people, and I loved it. And then I got more involved at school and took hard, heavy classes, where my classmates and I bonded over a common struggle. My personality developed rapidly and I flourished in school. Then something happened. I began to make friends and go out. I thought it was so amazing that people actually liked me for me, and I became more comfortable with telling people what was on my mind. But there’s no permanent cure for shyness. There are still some hurtles for me to jump over and some things that just don't go away with time or effort. I still get really overwhelmed sometimes and I just want to go back to the way I was. There are some things, such as public speaking, that I just haven’t conquered. Shyness, I learned, is dictated by fear. I remember this every time I want to crawl under my rock again, but I also have to tell myself that I don’t want to spend my life being afraid.
Cover Image Credit: Allison Pericles