Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pretty Fly for a Shy Girl

I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever be rid of this damn shyness problem. Shyness isn't a disease, there's no cure and as an evolutionary tool, it's the equivalent of an appendix. We don't need it, we don't want it, but for some of us, we're stuck with it. And it's inoperable.

For me, it's the prospect of meeting new people, as completely ridiculous as it sounds given my chosen profession. I used to have a problem meeting new people at all. I can still remember a client lunch when I was too shy to speak (but not too shy to eat). Now I can manage meeting one batch of clients at a time. Have been fine for some time now, and I do actually enjoy it. But networking is the absolute bane of my existence and, as I recently discovered, the prospect of spending 2 days at an internal networking conference will give me an asthma attack. Actually, 2 asthma attacks - one for each day.

I realised I was shy on the first day of my Primary One education. I was heading home with my Grandfather, and I could see from a distance that someone I had just met was about to pass my way. What do I do? What do I say? Do I make eye contact? When do I make eye contact? Do I smile? When do I smile? What kind of smile? Do I stop and chat? What if I don't? Would that be rude?

When she passed by, I was frantically digging in my bag for an imaginary book. I just couldn't go through with it.

About 8 years ago, I came up with what I thought was an amazing solution for the shyness problem, which was speaking at seminars. About 50 or so seminars later, I am dismayed to find that the shyness problem is cured - but only for when I speak at seminars. There is still an unholy dread of networking in any shape, size or form. I can see myself now at the pearly gates of heaven, cringing and wheezing at the thought of having to network with all these dead relatives. Or I could just find myself in hell, with my aunt, and no networking issues at all.

Recently, after a sleepless night, I realised the shyness issue also extends to the blog, which means that it is reaching critical proportions indeed. I go through the same series of reactions when I'm trying to respond to a comment on this blog, which could explain why I'm such a total sloth when it comes to responding to comments. It's not that I do not respond. I just do not publish the response. I am delighted and overwhelmed when I get a comment. Usually it makes my day to think that people might read the stuff I type out. Then I think of a response. Then I type it, then edit, then redact, then retype, then edit and then delete it in frustration because I don't think it will be good enough to publish. Then I spend sleepless nights agonizing and wondering if people think I'm too stuck up to respond to their comment.

Will there ever be a cure for shyness? Desperate people want to know. One hopes there will be a solution other than attending 50 networking events.


At 1:30 PM, Blogger Indiana said...

mmm...the answer either lies with,

a. Meeting more people in socially friendly situations, or,
b. alcohol.

Preferable these will be inclusive activities. ~grin~

At 1:38 PM, Blogger wallfleur said...

Lol. I know that problem with shyness.

Pls don't stress over this comment.

Just needed to let you know I've been reading your blog for a while and it always makes my day a little funnier, a little better. =)

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have nothing to say, just say something nice about the other person. Easiest way to do the right thing, always.

Yes, I have a shyness problem too. Just like you. I can't stand small talk. I only like to talk with people with whom I have already established a connection.

I have been checking your blog every few days for the last few months, wondering when your 'confinement' is going to end and you get back to blogging again. Ah.. finally.. :-)


At 5:34 PM, Blogger expat@large said...

Someone you know coming towards you? Look them in the eye just once until you get contact, then carry on as if you didn't know them. They will be crushed and then THEY'LL be shy forever, so you move the mojo on to them!

At 7:53 PM, Blogger mr.udders said...

I love you. Marry me!

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get all nervous on my way to work because the cleaner at the lobby greeted me once and now I feel like I need to reciprocate every single morning.

I hate making contact with other people... and I'm in PR.

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope I'm not adding stress as well. But fantastic writing there, you're very humourous.

You can keep quiet and keep being shy, but don't ever stop writing! :p

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd make a clever and charming reply to your post... but I'm too shy!


At 7:58 PM, Blogger DilettanteP said...

Hey Smootie,

There's nothing wrong about being shy... I used to be when I was a girl and somewhere along the way, I must have lost it for some reasons (just as one does with one's virginity..hehehheh)...

Anyways, I met you last year and you were doing ok so don't worry about it... in fact,I find you quirkily interesting..;)


At 10:37 PM, Blogger amaranth said...

haha, just type out your response and click send! we will love what you write anyway (i know i will)

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry about it. People who love you would think any rubbish you spew cute. =P

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Mark said...

It is a serious subject to me.

I read an article noting that shy children show very different areas of brain activity to more sociable kids upon meeting strangers. It appears to be the way we are wired!

Those of us who have to deal with our own innate shyness slowly learn coping strategies over the years, (reprogramming the circuits?) but I wonder if it really ever goes away completely. I too speak at seminars, meetings etc with no effort at all, but up on a podium you are separated from a certain level of personal interactions.... and then I still don't look forward to the coffee breaks and meals that follow. I feel I cope well enough, but it's not exactly relaxing.

Now I see my youngest daughter has a worse case than I did at her age......

But anyway, if it is integral to your writing skills, don't change anything! Your words are always a delightful read.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Mark said...

PS - no reply required or expected. ;)

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not alone with this shyness problem. I have this loser habit to raise my hand to wave at someone, changed my mind and gesture midway and pretend to tuck my hair behind my eyes.

Despite being in a job where I meet people constantly, I have never outgrown this irritating habit. Occasionally, it still sneaks out to irritate the hell out of me. It's like a spell casted on me in childhood!

At 11:46 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

I'm really astounded at this response. I had no idea so many people had this problem.

I would suggest setting up a Society for the Shy but although signups shouldn't be a problem, we would probably have minimal attendance at any society meetings.

I found a scientific explanation for shyness - it has something to do with the survival instinct. Shy people usually hang back in social situations and are therefore more likely to survive in a social situation that turns ugly, being the ones most likely at the back of the room and closest to the door. Bold people, on the other hand, would be the first ones to step up, hand outstretched, and be zapped into oblivion by the alien probe. I just made up this theory minutes ago, but I'm almost completely certain that it may someday come in useful.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

never thought of u as shy. hm.

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am also shy. but when it comes to blogging i am not shy cuz i am not face to face with the person. I really hate being shy. my best friend is alo shy. she hates it too. Kinda weird how to shy people can become friends huh. I really hope that one day i will out grow my shyness. Sometimes i think why me?!!!

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