Thursday, April 12, 2012

Being Shy - Part Four

{This is the fourth installment on being shy - check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three here}

I've been talking all week about my shyness.  And how it affects me.  And I have received many comments and emails from women who struggle with shyness as well.  Often times, their stories are very similar to mine.  I am a little surprised that so many people can relate.  I always assume that other people have it all together.  That they are full of confidence.  But I'm realizing that they have insecurities as well.  That they don't feel comfortable in social situations either.

Which brings me to my last post on this subject - being judged.

{Yes, I see the irony here - I assume everyone is confident - which is not the case...}

It's a huge problem for me.  When I go to a dinner party, for example, I may not talk much.  Because I'm too nervous.  I am afraid that I'll put my foot in my mouth (and then replay it over and over.  Ugh.).  While everyone is enjoying the conversation, I sit in silence.  And what do others conclude?  That I'm stuck-up.

On the flip side, sometimes my nerves get the better of me, and I can't stop talking.  Again, not a great trait.  So, people think that I want to be the center of attention.  I really don't.

If I turn down a party invitation, people say I'm 'no fun".  Or 'anti-social'.

I've heard all of these comments over the years.  No one ever assumes that I may be shy.

I understand how easy it is to make an assumption about a situation - but without all of the facts, the assumption may be completely wrong.  I'd like to share a story to help make my point.

Craig and I love taking walks.  We get really excited when the weather breaks - and can't wait to get outside.  So, most nights, when Craig gets out of work, we go for a walk.  And we are fortunate to have a beautiful street to walk down.  We love to talk about our day, look at the new leaves on the trees (or watch them turn various shades of red in the fall), and relax.  It is probably one of my favorite things to do.

{via Pinterest}

It is three quarters of a mile to the end of our street.  And then there is a busy cross street.  On the other side of this busy street are shops, restaurants, grocery stores, Starbucks, and more.  So, usually, when we walk down our street, we go somewhere.  We might sneak into the grocery store for a snack, or go to the pet store to see the cute puppies, or stop into a restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine.  And then we head back home.  We always feel refreshed and relaxed after a nice walk.

So, one night last summer, Craig and I went for a walk.  And about a halfway down our street, a strange dog approached us.  This was not a dog I recognized.  It was a medium sized black dog - I don't have any idea what breed it was.  All I knew was that it was scary.  It jumped in front of us.  Growled at us.  Ran around us.  And just plain scared us.  A lot.  We just kept trying to walk - and hoped that eventually it would run away.  That didn't work.  At one point, Craig found a small stick and tried to use that to defend us.  It didn't do much (but it was worth a try).  This went on for about fifteen minutes (I assume it was fifteen minutes but believe me it felt like forever!).  We finally got to the end of the street.  The dog was still scaring us.  We thought that if we crossed the busy street, maybe the dog would stay behind.  But that is not what happened.  As we approached the busy street, the dog ran right into the street, causing a woman to slam on her brakes.

What happened next?  The woman who slammed on her brakes yelled out her window "Hey!  Put your dog on a leash next time!!"

Even though this woman didn't know me, or anything about me, she felt comfortable judging me.  And the whole situation.  She made assumptions that weren't true.  She looked at the facts - Craig and I were standing there with a dog.  And she assumed the dog was ours.  And that we were taking him out for a walk without a leash.  And she was completely wrong.

Well, the dog made it safely across the busy street, and the owner finally came running after him.  And everyone was safe.  But I was a little on edge...

Anyway, back to my point.  It's not fun being judged.  And after all of these years, I want to make changes - try to be more comfortable with who I am.  Try to relax and not be so self-critical.  So people won't judge me - and think I'm stuck-up or anti social.

Easier said than done...