Little Miss Shy

When I hear people talking about their childhood memories, I always envy the way their eyes sparkle when they narrate funny incidents and memorable playtime stories. I grew up as a shy kid, an extremely shy one to be true and I was shy for a very long period of my time before I finally eased my way out of it. So when people talk about how they had jumped fences of neighbor’s house after stealing mangoes, or how they had won toffees after winning a game against the neighboring colonies’ kids or how happy and carefree their childhood was, I am always at loss of words.

My early childhood memories date back to the time when I was maybe three years old, being sent to pre-nursery school for the first time. True, the first time a kid is sent away from home is horrifying for kids, but in my case, that horrifying phase never transitioned into the exciting phase, as it happened for most of the kids.

115578699It was not the thought of going to school that scared me, it was the thought of meeting and talking to people-  the teachers, the bench mates, the peon and the headmaster that sent shivers down my spine. I remember eating my lunch alone, not because nobody talked to me, but I had nothing to talk to them. I once lost my way to the classroom after lunch and I still have vivid pictures of how terrified I was, more because I could not even respond to the janitors who tried to help me get back to my classroom and was full of shame as to how can a three-year-old kid lose her way from the playground to the classroom? My happiest memories of early school days used to be the last bell that marked the end of the day when I used to go running towards my dad who would always come pick me up.

This happened for at least a year. Thankfully the situation eventually improved when I joined my school but I would still lock myself in my room whenever we used to have guests over at home. I would reluctantly come out and greet them (after a whopping amount of persuasion from mom), but I never knew where else to go after a shy hello, unless, of course, a question about my studies or books were thrown at me. I still despised going out and playing with the kids of my neighbor and this became a serious concern for my mom, to the extent that one day she would not let me in unless I went out, introduced myself and played with the kids across the ground. Terrifying day it was!

No wonder when people chat ecstatically about their childhood days I cringe. I was always the shy and the quiet one and no wonder I was my class head so that I can shut up the others kids who chatted a lot (i never really knew what they could talk about nonstop)!

These were my memories up until the age of 7 or 8 and then somehow the situation improved exponentially and now my close set of friends who know how perky and crazy I am, would not even believe these stories if I tell them. I am the one in my group who constantly makes plan of which restaurant to try on a Monday night, which artist gig to attend on a Tuesday, which movie to watch on a Wednesday night, where to party on a Friday and where to go on the next long weekend. My flatmates wanted me to skip paying the rent as I was hardly ever home. Sometimes I was forced to divide the seven days of a week for seven different types of get together. My weekends were usually planned as breakfast with the friend in town, lunch with colleagues and then a dinner/movie date with my BFFs.

girls_the_girl_on_sitting_on_the_beach_during_sunset_097146_

Sure I have a number of friends now, ranging from just acquaintances to people I would vouch for, I have a pretty good social life, I have traveled far and alone and I have done my share of crazy and outgoing deeds but throw me in a room full of strangers and I might just cringe again. Just the other day I met my best friends’ date for the first time and the minute she left me alone with him and went to the washroom I could hear my inner demons screaming that pretend to look into your phone or admire the painting over the wall so that he might think you are busy. Eventually, after a number of such incidents I came to terms with the fact that I had been, and will always be the shy and the quiet one.

You might think how could I have ever been shy with an occupied routine like I had, but that was the case when I used to live my best friends, people who knew me inside out and where I was safe in the undeniable congenial comfort zone.

Somehow destiny took rounds and I found myself sharing the roof with new people, people whom I did not know and the worst part being, people who did not know me. How will they ever be able to know how difficult it is for me to get comfortable around new people and how it takes a gallon of effort from the other side as well. No wonder I was labeled shy and quiet again and I conceded that I can grow out of my shyness but being shy will always be an integral part of me. As lost as I was in my self-woven specter of having overcome my childhood fears of meeting and talking to new people, I can not deny its existence entirely, even after two decades of my first day at school!

When I look back at the various stages of my metamorphosis from an extremely shy wee toddler to not so shy teenager and an outgoing adult, I know what changed inside me to bring about this revolution. The more comfortable you are in your skin and the more confident you are, the less shy you are.

As a child I always over thought about situations and was almost always afraid of saying or doing something inappropriate in public, thinking that I would be mocked of, later on. Sometimes or rather most of the times I did find myself guilty of actually behaving unsuitably. This would leave me overburdened by the sick feeling of too much self-consciousness and I became overly self-critical of myself.

I think there were two turning points that made me grow out of my extreme shyness. I made my first best friend in school and discovered that I can be comfortable around a different person, apart from my parents. I finally opened up to someone and came to know that I can be loved with all my flaws, awkwardness and stupidity and no one has the time to scrutinize me all the time.

Second, I also started brimming with confidence because my academic excellence in school made me the apple of the eyes for most of my teachers, favorite of many peers and an inspiration for most kids. People at school knew and talked about me, welcomed me in their groups, and it helped immensely in facing my inner demons of shyness.

This appreciation and recognition somehow dissolved my inner fears of being the awkward girl. I stopped being over self-conscious and eased into my skin. I did things at school that I would earlier fear to do; participated in social events and thus overcame my social anxiety, I made efforts to make all sorts of friends and did not hesitate even if I knew I would say or do something unbefitting. Soon enough, I was no longer the clumsy kid or the inappropriate person in social outings.

longboard_girl_by_kay17ryan-d6orklzSometimes I can not help but wonder why I had put in so much effort to overcome something that was, in fact, a part of being me. Being a part of the society where extroversion is considered kind of cool and impressive and introversion is almost always negatively spoken about, we shy breeds constantly exhaust ourselves to be social to just fit in that criteria. I remember usually coming up with excuses to cancel on dinner dates with my friend and her new boyfriend, to the point when it created a cold war between my friend and me. She called me a selfish and a boring person and that was when I finally agreed to go out (who wants to be called boring?).

I am still bewildered when a person enters all smiles in your room and happily greets everybody and can almost always strike a conversation with anyone about anything. These are the popular breeds, with whom people generally want to spend time with. But I had always preferred being on the sidelines rather than being in the limelight. I, on the other hand, would avoid making eye contacts with people so that I do not have to strike a conversation.

It is not that I do not want to go to parties now or divide my seven days of a week meeting seven different people, but it is just that I find it more comfortable in a quiet me time. I have two sets of people in my life- one who constantly ask me to shut up and know my crazy side, the other who ask me to speak up and it is equally difficult for each of the sets to fathom the other side. It is usually a matter of time when people go from “can you talk a little louder” to “can you keep it down”.

I am now aware that not everyone you meet is going to understand your shyness, not everyone will pass without judging you for some rude obnoxious bitch but it is completely okay to be shy and even shy about accepting being shy. Unless you feel you are being held back because of your shyness, you have nothing to worry about. It is just a matter of time when the new environment and people sink in and you are heard again. For me, the trick was about finding the balance between being outgoing and being my shy self and also being super confident in my skin about being who I am. The good ones will eventually stick by, they always do, and the others would pass by as they were always meant to be.

 

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23 thoughts on “Little Miss Shy

  1. Debanshu says:

    Read it..And was thrown back to some nostalgia..I was never of the shy type and we were never that close…But this piece has been excellently written by you and will surely help people specially teenagers who come across this…Carry on..God bless

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ayushi860 says:

    Thank you so much Debanshu, I know you were a part of the chatty ones in school, and I was never close to anyone in school, that was the whole point of my story here! 😉 But taking out time to read and appreciate this, means so much to me!! 🙂

    Like

  3. Prateek says:

    beautifully expressed…u have literally poured out your feelings…from childhood days to the present scenario….very well written

    Like

  4. Sugam Singh says:

    An excellent writing of yours Ayushi…I know each and every word is soo pure and true..DAT part of missing the way to classroom happened to me too..n while reading it I felt like it just happened yesterday..your story is really amazing and quite an impressive one ..

    Liked by 1 person

    • ayushi860 says:

      The kids around me were always so full of life that I did not think someone could have gone through my phase…but glad to know you could relate…Thanks for the appreciation Sugam.. 🙂

      Like

  5. Ekanto Ghosh says:

    Well framed article…You have a knack for writing.. It was a joy reading it. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, these two pictures for the shy and quiet kids who usually have a sacred parallel world of “Me & Myself”:

    Like

  6. Debashis Hira says:

    Each and every word aptly put!! I could just correlate as if someone just showed me a mirror of how it actually feels being the shy and introvert kind. Its just there is a subtle equilibrium where one needs to find the balance of where to fit yourself in among the ideal minded people who can actually get you and rest who really find you a bit weird. Its that till date, I find it hard to find my happy space in this maddening crowd. Well must say, taking in account that i usually don’t read much blogs, this is just par excellence! Well written, Ayushi.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ayushi860 says:

    Correct Debashis, we have to find our equilibrium and I am somehow glad that I grew out of my shyness. I still prefer a sound me time than socializing though. 😉
    I am so glad you took out time to read this, and thank you so much for the encouraging words! 🙂

    Like

  8. susieshy45 says:

    Ayushi,
    Great writing and good that you took time for introspection. Once you know yourself, it is easy to find a way out for yourself, if you want to do so.
    I am not sure if I am shy or not- I have been talkative and been good at school and everything but cannot ever say that I have had good friends, ever. I still am not sure if I have good friends. The only friend I have had and kept for a long time is my husband- 25 years this year. The funny thing is I have never felt the need of friends, other than my parents and my husband. That is me.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • ayushi says:

      Hi Susie, You are so lucky and blessed to have a best friend in your husband and the bond only seems to be growing stronger.
      Thank you for the kind words, this self introspection is really overwhelming sometimes, but at the end of it I am so glad that I can accept myself happily as who I am. Not to forget how this helped me in making great friends over the years, a few faded over time, but the chosen close set of few- that friendship is only going to grow stronger. 🙂
      I think I strongly believe in the concept of needing friends in your life, not many albeit a few. They make life more colorful for us don’t you think so?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sparkyjen says:

    I love that you’ve found a balance. Being YOU is who you were meant to be, and it seems that sharing who YOU are with others has brought you quite the following. I have always liked quiet people. In my opinion, you may not talk much, but you listen. What that means to me is, you have lots of stored information that actually may amount to something. Knowledge is power. No one does it better than simply being themselves. I applaud your honesty. Continue to just be. You wear it well.

    Like

  10. StephJ says:

    I have learned to open up and embrace my shy side. I feel like in this extroverted world it is looked at as a negative thing sometimes and that is simply not true. Although I do agree that we need to push ourselves to grow no matter our natural states. Thank you for sharing this, I can really relate to how you feel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ayushi says:

      Exactly, the reason we have push ourselves out of our shells is that extroversion is really considered cool and we shy or introvert breeds are almost always taken in negative light. And I do not like being called the boring one! 😉
      But it was a great journey of self-discovery and I am happy that I am a changed person now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • StephJ says:

        I was reading a article the other day showing a study done in japan and Canada, In Canada the children who were more loud and extroverted were considered more popular and in japan the children who were more quiet and introverted were considered more popular and liked. That study really opened my eyes to the society in the west in which I live, there really is nothing wrong with being shy and adjusting to meet a society standard that only matters because of the place you were born is not fair to your natural self. Sometimes its hard to embrace who we are but it really is freeing when you can. I think its other people who need to open their perspectives a little. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • ayushi says:

      I also broke out of my shyness when I started making friends, that was some great feeling as a kid who considered herself as socially awkward. I am so glad you could share my views.
      Happy V day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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