A Letter to Shyness


To you, shyness, who have been at my side all the time, I dedicate this letter so that you understand why you’re so important in my life.

Dear shyness, we’ve walked hand in hand and lived various adventures. After every walk down the path of guilt, anguish, shame, pain, anxiety, and stress, I want you to know how I feel and think about you.

After reflecting on this, I’m aware that, every time I walk with you, I learn something new. Because of that, I’m writing this letter to you so that you’ll see that I’ve arrived at some conclusions.

Shyness, you’re a part of me

Many times, I came to see you as an alien force that took hold of me just at the moments when I needed more tranquility. Later, step by step, I understood that you weren’t so strange.

I thought you came to take over my voice, my head, my whole body. But today I know that you don’t come just because. I understood that you’re part of me and, therefore, you aren’t omnipotent. I’m the one who gives you the power.

That’s why I wanted to talk to you today, dear shyness. To let you know that I finally understood that we’re one and that we can make peace to walk different paths. There’s something beyond anguish and shame. We can experience new things!

So, as you are part of me, I have a task. I’m going to know myself in order to identify what causes me so much fear, so I can manage us better. Can you imagine making more assertive decisions, being creative, and not getting stuck in the feeling of shame and guilt?

Besides, I’m going to be more resilient in order to overcome adversity. Therefore, we’ll be more in harmony. But I warn you, shyness, that it won’t be simple. We should go step by step.

I know that you have good intentions, shyness

Don’t think that everything is negative between us. On the contrary, it’s better than ever. That’s because thinking about you can let me consider how much I’ve needed you and the great value that you have.

What made me hate you was that I concentrated too much or that I anticipated events. I didn’t take advantage of the present. I assure you, shyness, that by living in the here and now, we can feel freer.

It didn’t help me to be so pessimistic either. Focusing on the negative only put me in a similar state of mind at the same time reducing the size of the exit doors. Although now, I also value it, for by navigating in the darkest waters I was able to learn this.

Shyness, I know that you have good intentions. Thank you for developing my many skills. For example, I’m a great observer. Seeing everything in silence has helped me get to meet others. I know a lot about their non-verbal language. Besides, shyness, you’ve helped me survive hand in hand with prudence.

Also, I can tell you, shyness, that thanks to you I look at different ideas, which exercises my memory and reflection. I know it isn’t always positive, especially when my thoughts become ruminative, but doing it once in a while and being aware of it helps me to reflect while stimulating my executive functions.

Also, I’d like to ask you a question. Did you know that anyone can feel, think, and behave like us at some point in their life? What happens is that we tend to label ourselves, taking other aspects out of our view.

Anyone can have shy moments

Therefore, we can all pass through moments of shyness. For example, we can be nervous in front of the person that we like or when we have to speak in public. That’s why it’s important to stop seeing ourselves as negative. It’s also important that we learn the difference when it’s about something that goes against our well-being.

Many confuse you with social phobia, which is similar. This condition can occur in shy people, but not all shy people develop social phobia. As Cano Vindel, Pellejero, Ferrer, Iruarriza, and Zuazo suggest in their article “Aspectos cognitivos, emocionales, genéticos y diferenciales de la timidez” (In English: “Cognitive, emotional, genetic, and differential aspects of shyness”), the difference is important.

However, social phobia is a mental disorder that’s defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). It consists of an anxiety disorder in which there’s a persistent fear of one or more social situations. It differs from shyness mainly because it’s usually continuous and disabling.

A man staring maybe due to shyness.

Shyness, I’ll take off my armor to make you smaller

I know that you’re part of me. That’s why I can’t escape completely. However, I can take off the masks I wear to make you smaller. This would benefit us, as it’d diminish the unpleasant sensations. To get to this point, I’m going to start exploring myself so that I’ll know myself and make better decisions that cause me less dissonance and discomfort. Then, I’ll be more authentic. Besides, I’ll help you in the following way:

  • Avoid judgments. They lead to pessimism and reinforce your avoidance of situations.
  • Go beyond yourself. This is to stop being self-absorbed and pay attention to others. Although it seems that you do, you’re focusing on what you imagine that others think, not what they’re really communicating to you.
  • Prepare yourself. In order to feel more secure, you can prepare what you’re going to say, how you’ll do it, and what resources you have.
  • Real goals. If you set unattainable goals, you’ll become frustrated.
  • Be careful of non-verbal language. This way, you’ll transmit the correct message.

More things I can do

Remember, dear shyness, that even if you want to go unnoticed, others also have the ability to interpret your language. If you’re self-absorbed, distant, and silent, you’ll be very visible, even if you think you aren’t.

This way, it’ll be easier if you face the situation with resources at your disposal. This isn’t about being who you aren’t. Simply that you give a little of yourself, and that you identify what things work for you when interacting and use them to your advantage.

Finally, I say goodbye with gratitude because you’ve taught me a lot. Without you, I wouldn’t know who I am. I wouldn’t have become such a good observer, nor would I have successfully gotten out of some situations. Believe it or not, you were my best resource at a certain moment.

Let’s make life simpler. Let’s hold hands, but let’s be more assertive in our actions, carry fewer crosses, and work with more sense. Stay with me, but I’ll be in control.

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