The Shy Persons Guide to Being Social (and liking it)

Guess what? I am painfully shy. The whole reason that I took up writing in the first place was to have a place to converse with the world that didn’t involve having to speak to someone. Over the course of my life, my shyness has manifested itself in different ways. There was a point in time when I wore massive sweatshirts all-year round to protect myself, I went through a phase where I imbibed far too many substances, there was also a time when I didn’t leave my house for anything but class and grocery shopping. Since then, I have masochistically forced myself into social-facing jobs like camp counseling, personal styling, and event planning in hopes of scaring the shyness out of me like the hiccups! Since I have a decent amount of experience with pretending to be something I am not, I thought it might be cool to give my readers some time-tested tips on how to overcome (or at least contain) shyness. First off, you might be on the fence about whether you are shy or not…

How to tell if you are shy:

  • You avoid social situations
  • Conversing with other people makes you anxious
  • It’s hard for you to maintain eye contact
  • When you are having a conversation, you fidget, glaze over, and constantly assess whether the other person is enjoying the conversation or not
  • You would rather stay at home alone than go out
  • Only a few, very close, friends and family know who you really are
  • People sometimes think you are stuck-up or arrogant because you don’t make an effort to talk to them
  • You pretend to be un-shy and end up seeming inauthentic and fake
  • Sometimes, at social gatherings, you have to hide in the bathroom for a break
  • Being around other people takes it all out of you

Do some/all of these things apply to you? Congratulations! You are a fellow shy person! 

Congratulations??? Doesn’t she know this is a curse?!?

Thank you, thought bubble from imaginary reader! Contrary to what you might think, being shy has its benefits! Shyness makes great writers, artists, actors, and listeners. It also fuels the economy because people are constantly writing/buying self-help books on how to overcome it. Shyness also supports a different type of creativity than that of its outgoing counterpart. The bitch about shyness is that we can’t just close ourselves off and not talk to anybody. Staying in our ‘comfort zone of isolation’ is doing us absolutely no favors. Are you more qualified for a position than someone more outgoing? Your employer will never know if you don’t open up and say things! Is your extroverted classmate taking the credit for your ideas? No one will know/care unless you buck up and present your own ideas! What I have put together is a little reference sheet on what to do/not to do when you are shedding your shyness:

  • STAY IN THE MOMENT! I can’t stress this enough. Frequently when I am talking to someone, I am thinking so hard about what I should ask them next that I never actually hear their answer to my first question. This makes me sound like an automated machine (in robot tone) w.h.a.t d.o y.o.u d.o ? w.h.e.r.e a.r.e y.o.u f.r.o.m? When you ask someone something, listen to what they are saying. Chances are, a conversation will naturally evolve from it.
  • It’s ok to go to an event with a list of conversation starters. Just don’t rely on them to do all the work. They are supposed to start the conversation, from there it’s up to you.
  • Shake things up a bit and ask someone something unexpected. For example: I am looking for new vacation ideas, what is the most interesting place you have ever been?
  • It’s ok to talk about yourself a little bit! Passing the conversation off to the other person is ok to do a few times but they probably want to know about you too 🙂
  • When you are feeling anxious, add another person to your conversation. Talking with 2 other people instead of 1 is so much better for a shy person. It gives us time to listen and prepare a followup story or question.
  • Try not to scrutinize the actions of the person you are talking to. Just because they glanced around or looked at the floor does not mean that they are bored. They might even be a fellow shy person! 
  • Don’t talk to the same person all night. I know there is a tendency to find someone nice and stick to them. It is way more fun and interesting to work a room and meet a few different people. 
  • It’s ok to be alone for a few minutes at a party. I know… this is TERRIFYING. Believe it or not, no one cares if you are alone for a little while. The only person judging you for enjoying a glass of champagne alone is that douchy voice inside your head. If you are all peopled out and need a break, take it! Then get back in the game. 
  • Pre-determine an amount of time to stay at an event. This will help you spread out your energy and be more lively. It will also help you be more outgoing because there is an end in site. However, if you discover that you are really enjoying yourself when your allotted time is up, stay and have fun!!!


6 thoughts on “The Shy Persons Guide to Being Social (and liking it)

  1. omg i can totally relate, but my problem is that i can’t go up and talk to people. I am painfully shy and the idea of going up to someone i don’t know to talk to them literally terrifies me. I don’t suppose you have advice for that? 🙂

    1. Thanks for writing! You bring up a really excellent point! I think that a million people can relate to this …From experience, the second I let myself think about how nervous I am, it’s all over. The trick is to introduce yourself to someone before your nerves have a chance to psyche you out. There was a time when I sat through an ENTIRE DINNER with three other people without saying a word! Every time I thought up something to say, the conversation had moved on to another topic. I suggest coming up with a set of questions that you think might start a conversation that you would be interested in having with someone. In addition to the questions, think up some fun stories or anecdotes that apply to the topic. When you walk in, find the first person who is alone and introduce yourself. Ask how they know the host, where they are from, how they are involved, etc… Also, if you feel yourself freaking out, it’s ok to say, “You bring up such an interesting point! I am just going to run to the restroom but I am looking forward to hearing more about that!” or “I am going to grab another glass of wine, would you like something?” Then take a few minutes by yourself to recollect. This will be really painful the first few times but, with practice, you will be able to approach anybody. Basically, just keep at it. Don’t give up on yourself. Show up to the parties, let life take it from there. xoxo.

      1. That is a good idea 🙂 I think I’ve done it a couple of times (with some dutch courage) and there is a guy that works in my local shop that I really need to ask out lol thanks for the advice 😀 xx

  2. I’m an introvert (not to be mistaken for shy), who ALSO happens to be a recovering shy person. I’m still all of the above, though, even though my shyness is a think of my (red-faced) past!

    I discovered your blog thanks to Freshly Pressed. I love your style/writing, so I’m sticking around!

  3. Loved the robot-talk bit. I sound like that much of the time when I’m trying to talk to someone. You really make shy people like me feel more normal.

  4. I’m not exactly sure why, but I love your writing style. Just read your FP post. Also a budding writer person (read: unemployed) who has grown overly reliant on the habits of my local Mail Person. Good luck. May the force be with you. And, I’ll be back.

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