April 2015: PMA

How to Overcome Shyness: From One Shy Girl to Another

Shy people tend to fall into two categories. There are those who generally dislike the company of people they are not familiar with and prefer to stick to people they know., and there are those who want to branch out but are terrified of doing so. I was the latter.

I used to be a painfully shy child, the kind of child that ran away from visitors and would never put up their hand in class despite knowing the answer to the teacher’s question. It’s easy to see how shyness can hold you back and having overcome this I would like to share some ways you can too.

GET OUT MORE
When you’re super shy, you more than likely spend a great deal of time at home. Nothing is wrong with that; everyone should have time to themselves in their favourite pyjamas catching up on some Game of Thrones, but not all the time. You’re missing so much of what life has to offer when you’re cooped up at home with only Jon Snow for company, no matter how dreamy you find him.

Go to the mall, have a drink at a new hotspot or try to go to at least one party or social event a month. You never know what you’re missing out on while you’re stuck on the sofa. When I find the time, I like to stroll around town and I’ve met a bunch of new people this way. I even got a piercing on a whim this way, which I’d put off because I was stuck indoors over-thinking it.

ENGAGE IN MORE SMALL TALK
Whether you are talking to a stranger or someone you just met at a party or a colleague being put on the spot can be daunting. You have to think of something to say that doesn’t sound weird, try your best to navigate your way through awkward pauses and be interesting all at once. The good news is that you can practice small talk in order to be better at it.

You can do this in front of the mirror, in the shower or wherever else you’ll be alone and comfortable. Think of topical issues, local events and anything that interests you, but of course leave room for improvisation or you may come across slightly rigid. Sometimes complimenting someone on their dress is the perfect opening to a conversation. That’s exactly what I did while waiting for my mum at the mall and the girl was so flattered that she gave me a big smile and we had a whole conversation about dresses. I have found that the key to small talk is to just be genuine and take an interest in what the other person is saying.

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HAVE A SUPPORTIVE SOCIAL CIRCLE
Your friends should be people those that make you feel good about yourself. If any one of them put you down for your shortcomings then they aren’t very good friends. We all have insecurities that make us feel like we’re less capable than we actually are so do you really need someone else’s bad remarks to make you feel even worse?

In high school I used to be part of a group of friends who were much more outgoing than me but also very cliquey/mean. They would put down my clothes and other friends I had; it’s amazing what you put up with when you just want to belong. Needless to say, as soon as I stopped hanging out with them I felt much better about myself and my choices. You will be better off when you don’t have people that take advantage of your shyness or break you down to build themselves up.

TAKE MORE RISKS
This can be scary for anyone regardless of how shy they are. Risks are terrifying because they make us uncomfortable, they force us to let go of what we have in order to get something we hope is better. But good things can come from doing things that excite and scare you at the same time.

Towards the end of high school, I was asked to prepare a speech for my class. You would not believe how much my heart palpitated at the thought of standing in front of all those people. Seriously, you could have heard it from space. But I did it and afterwards my principle said it was a beautiful speech. I’m not about to volunteer to do any stand-up any time soon but it feels good to know that I’ve been able to conquer a fear.

Things that take you outside of your comfort zone help you grow as a person. As you do these things more and more you get to learn that failure won’t break you and that achieving something you care about is one of the most enjoyable things in life.

Shyness does not have to keep you from doing the things you love or becoming a better version of yourself. It takes time and patience, but once you start trying to overcome it, it becomes easier to battle. It is something you should try and face if you feel it’s holding you back because life’s too short to regret the things you didn’t do out of a fear you know you could have tried to conquer.

Noma
A budding South African writer, and fashion enthusiast who loves to discover new things as much as sharing them with anyone who will listen. Oh, and I love wine gums and horror movies!

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