Friday, August 29, 2008

Shyness

Yes, today I'm going to talk about being 'shy'. I have noticed a disturbing trend among girls in their early to mid teens where they are either extremely bold, or they are painfully shy.
Before I begin I would like to say that I'm not talking about people who are naturally more quiet or more loud. It is only when a personality trait becomes rude that it is a problem.
Right now I'm going to be focusing on the 'Shy Trend' because that seems to be much more prevalent among Homeschoolers. There seems to be an idea that some people have that you have to be very quiet and shy in order to be a Christian. That obviously isn't true because when you read (anywhere in the New Testament) about Jesus, He wasn't shy at all. And He is the One that we are to be like as Christians.
There is nothing wrong with not being boisterous, but there's a big difference between being friendly and being boisterous.
Ok, first I'm going to give a little example of what shyness can look like...

Let's say that you go to church and you notice that there is a new family there with a girl about your age or younger that is standing by herself off to the side. You feel a little hesitant but you make the effort and walk over, give a friendly smile and say hi. Her face gets slightly red, but she gives a little smile and a very quiet hello before turning her head to look at the rest of the people. You feel a bit awkward, almost as if you're not welcome, but ask where she's from, and did she have to travel far to get here? After only getting a short sentence in reply you start to turn red yourself as you ask how many siblings she has, does she have any pets, does she like hiking etc. After carrying on a conversation by yourself for a couple of minutes you suffer through a long uncomfortable silence and then finally excuse yourself.

Has that ever happened to you? If it hasn't, let me tell you it's very very difficult to carry on a conversation when the other person only gives a curt one-syllable answer to any questions you are able to come up with.

Or maybe you would be the one standing quietly off in a corner feeling very out of place and awkward. If that would be the case, I have a couple of ideas of how to help you to 'come out of yourself' a little more so that anyone trying to be friendly doesn't feel rebuffed. :-)

1. Smile... a nice friendly smile can work wonders when you can't think of anything to say

2. Talk to your Mom and ask her to help you practice questions to ask and subjects to talk about. (A little tip here: if you can get someone to start talking about themselves you've won half the battle and will probably just have to listen for a while.)

3. Practice on safe people, say a friend that you know but you don't see very often, or even your Grandma or cousin. Practice makes a big difference in being a good conversationalist.

4. Stop thinking so much about what others think of you. If you are able to concentrate on being friendly instead of worrying why this or that person is looking at you, it will not only help you to win friends, it will help you to enjoy your life more. I know that it's no fun going around worrying what everyone thinks of you.

5. Branch out. Next time you are in company, look around and see if there is anyone that looks as shy as you feel and try to make them feel at home.

6. If you have invited someone to your home or to do something with you, make sure that you are willing to make an effort to talk to them because otherwise they will just feel like they are intruding. (My sister is really good at talking to people so sometimes I'll make sure that she's around if I can't think of something to say)


And if you are the person who is trying to be friendly to a shy person here are a few tips.

1. Always have a subject that you can chat about basically by yourself (i.e. your cat, what you have in your garden...) that way if you go up and talk to someone you can actually talk for a few minutes without feeling too out of place.

2. Sometimes shy people don't want to talk for a long time, but a friendly smile and "Welcome!" will make them feel more at ease and cared for. If you try to talk for too long they will be able to tell that it is a strain on you and they will just draw back into themselves more.

3. Don't take it personally if they don't respond right away. Sometimes a good way to get people to open up at a church dinner or something is to invite them to sit next to you. Sometimes people feel more at ease after they sit with you for a while. (Besides, when you're eating you don't have to talk as much)

4. Sometimes inviting the shy person to come stand with you in a little group (after introducing them to your friends) is a good idea because then you can just listen to everyone else talk. (In cases like this I usually invite my sister to come join us because she is really good at drawing people out of themselves.)

5. You never know how or when you can bless someone by being interested in them even if they don't appear to respond right away. I remember when I was younger and very shy I used to feel really happy when someone would just come up and say hi even if they didn't stay and chat.


Now, to all of the shy people out there... Go slow. Pray about it. It can be really hard to change the way you do things, but it is totally worth it! If you can learn to enjoy being in company not think about yourself it will really help. :-)

Does anyone that either is shy now or used to be shy have any other suggestions or tips?

1 comment:

Maria said...

Thanks for this!
Even though I have been homeschooled only for about 3 years now, I've always been naturally shy (though I'm sure people couldn't tell over the internet! =p).
I like the tip about knowing subjects to talk about beforehand! That's a great idea that I'll have to try sometime!