Is it a bad thing to be shy and quiet? As I type this, (and before I go on), I find myself wondering what you are doing here, on this article, at this website. Are you looking to figure out something about yourself? Maybe get a better idea who you are? Or perhaps you are concerned or don’t like something about yourself, and you are ready to change?
Regardless of your purpose here, I want to start with the idea, the concept, that you as a human being, you okay as you are, and you do not have to change unless it is something that you want to do.
Shyness is a part of us
I personally do not believe that it is a bad thing to be shy. I don’t think it is much different from being tall or short, blond, green-eyed, young, or old. However, the thing about being shy is that you can treat it like a characteristic that cannot be changed, such as height or eye color, or you could treat it like a condition that can be treated with some effort.
What’s the big deal about shyness anyway?
What’s the big deal about not being shy? What is “being shy”? The dictionary defines it as being reserved or nervous around other people.
But I think being SHY can mean so many things. Being shy can mean that you struggle with small talk or in conversation. It can mean that maybe you struggle to meet new people, or when you do meet new people, that you are unable to speak or really interact with them.
Perhaps it means that you lack confidence or that you are just someone who prefers to be alone rather than to be in large groups. Shyness can be confused with being an introvert.
It may also mean that you are struggling with a form of anxiety, which can actually be a significant enough condition that might warrant the assistance of a therapist, doctor, or even medication.
Because shyness can be interpreted so many ways, comes in so many forms, depending upon how you think about it, this is why I wondered at the very beginning why you are here.
A certain amount of shyness is normal for all people
If being shy to you is being intimidated by other people or situations, this is very normal. It is normal for humans to struggle in new situations. Intimidation is social situations is also something that can be changed or overcome with some effort and dedication.
Are you someone who struggles in small talk? You may not realize this, but people who excel at small talk and meeting new people tend to do it a lot. From this experience, they have a set of questions already formed in their minds to be asked of people that they are meeting that are new. For the most part, they aren’t coming up with everything on the fly.
From their experience, they just know that in general it is pretty easy and acceptable to ask someone you just met about themselves, where they are from, if you are in the US it is okay to ask about their job or what they do for a living (it is not as kosher in other places around the world to ask about employment), you can ask about their interest or what they have read or whether they follow current events, or who they also know at the function.
People who are used to meeting new people or doing the small talk just know that there are a handful of topics that can easily be discussed by two strangers will just met. Doing a little preparation and a little bit of work and practice in social situations can help you overcome shyness in social situations.
Is shyness caused by an overall lack of confidence or self-esteem?
If your shyness is the result of a lack of confidence, this may require a different set of tactics to work through it. If you lack confidence, you may need to look carefully at yourself to figure out why that is, and what you can do to improve it.
Sometimes, you can increase your confidence and overcome shyness by doing something drastically different from what you feel shy about. For example, some people go on a Grand Adventure and challenge themselves by doing something that they fear, such as skydiving or white water rafting. They may return from that Adventure having accomplished something they never thought they could, and that feeling of exuberance and achievement can bleed through into other parts of their life, and help them deal with their confidence issues.
This article isn’t about self-esteem building, so I won’t digress into all the other ways you can work to build confidence. But in general, if shyness is a problem for you (and you want to change it), working on building your confidence and self-esteem can also have the by-product of helping you feel less shy overall.
Shyness doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and you don’t have to change it if you don’t want to
And here’s the thing, if you are okay with being shy and your life works for you the way it is, then what is the big deal? You can have a wonderful and happy life being shy, so long as you are able to take care of yourself and your family, and find a way to be happy.
In fact, there are men and women out there who are more attracted to people who are shy, and find quiet, modest people to be attractive (and maybe mysterious).
But if your shyness is preventing you from happiness, taking care of yourself or your family, then in that scenario it may not be a good thing and it is recommended that you do something to try and improve the condition.
Is your shyness crippling?
When your shyness is anxiety, and prevents you from living, you should consider seeing your doctor about it. In general, shyness is more like being a little nervous about being around other people. If shyness for you is more like….
- upset stomach
- shortness of breath
- constant worry
- sweaty hands (or body)
- muscle tension
- poor concentration
- heart palpitations
- physical weakness
- panic attacks
…then what we are talking about isn’t just shyness. You probably have anxiety of some kind. Like shyness, anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing, or anything you should feel like you need to change or feel ashamed about. But it is good to give it a name, and to know that it exists. It is also good to know that if you want to get help for your anxiety (or your shyness), that help is out there.
People should feel comfortable being who they are, and not feel pressure to change
But in general, I am more of a Live and Let Live person. We don’t have to be the same. There is room in this world for the type A extroverts, there is room for the type B introverts. There is room for the charismatic Life of the Party People, and there is room modest Wallflowers.
It is the wide variety of people in this world that makes it wonderful.
I would not feel bad if you are a shy person. In each case, I would encourage you to continue to work on yourself, to grow, change, and become more confident.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t be shy, or that you have to try to be someone that you are not. There is just too much pressure in this world for people to change themselves into something else, into a version of themselves that they think they should become, rather than finding out who they are inside.
I think it is ok to be shy.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.