Do you ever have dread creep upon you as you prepare to speak in a lecture? Or when in a seminar? Or even when meeting new people? This dread is like a thief in the night, stealing your voice away and rendering you speechless in such predicaments, but you are not alone. University is one small step for mankind but a giant leap for those who are on the more coy side of the social scale.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘shy’ is a verb which means ‘to take a sudden fright or aversion; to make a difficulty, ‘boggle’ about doing something; to recoil, shrink’ – something that I wholeheartedly relate to daily. Coming from a small village in Essex where the population is less than three hundred, it’s not hard to think why. When I went on to college, it was hard to overcome some of my shyness due to being in an unfamiliar place. I recall one instance where one of my friends on our first ever meeting said ‘you clearly aren’t a fan of me. What’s your problem?’… but that is the thing, there was no problem – I just could not speak. In this abyss of embarrassment, I became beetroot red and managed finally to choke out that I am indeed shy.
Shyness is a peculiar thing; why are some people shy? Psychologically, shy people tend to approach life with a different thinking pattern than their more outspoken counterparts – it can even be seen as being a form of social anxiety. While there will be some ‘quiet ones’ in part of the shyness clique, it is largely situational. For example, new territory can easily stir up this bane of our lives in the most inconvenient place or time, but it is not always bad. Usually, most shy people are aware of this and strive to conquer it, therefore setting themselves an end goal. Whilst the more outspoken peers have already reached their social peak, it is a constant determination for those who are shy where ‘baby steps’ are achievements.
In the same sense as mental health, you cannot tell if someone suffers from shyness based on looks alone. If you are an outspoken person, do not ask of those who are shy to jump over an astro-field just yet, let them do it on their own terms. Support those amongst us who are shyer, and get to know them as many of us are pretty rad. Likewise, if you are shy, do not be afraid to try new things as it can be lonely watching others have fun and letting your social anxiety or shyness stop you from indulging in the next best three years of your life at university. Celebrate your achievements – whether big or small – embrace the positives of being shy, and most importantly, remember you can do it.
I must admit that university so far has been a daunting climb, but it has not stopped me from making some amazing friends here. Personally, I care too much about what people think to completely conquer this demon, yet it still has allowed me to drive towards annihilating it over the next 3 years of my life as I flourish as an individual and satiate my passion for karaoke -my once nightmare.