15 Mar How I Overcame Debilitating Shyness
I’m seated in class and the lecturer is asking a question. I avert my eyes from him, hoping he wont pick me to answer the question. My thoughts start jumbling up; what if he picks me? What do I say? Everyone will discover today that I am weak and timid and shy and unlikeable. Please don’t pick me. I start shaking, my laps have spasms and there is tremor in my hands. H e doesn’t pick me and moves to another part of his lecture. I feel sooo relieved but kind of disappointed. Maybe this could have been the opportunity for me to be bold and eloquent and prove to myself that I can do this.
The thoughts that used to run through my head, at 30 years old in a classroom with 21 year old’s who are bold and who I’m definitely certain think I’m just a weak waste of time.
That was my reality for as long as I can remember. Fear to speak up. God, when I start thinking of the amazing things that shyness has cost me! Amazing friendships, exhilarating experiences, wonderful achievements, greater connections, cuter boyfriends… the list is quite long.
At 30, I decided to do something about this burden. I didn’t even think it was possible to change but I had a kind of audacity to hope. I started stumbled upon Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Meditation on MindValley and every evening, I’ll sit on the balcony of our home and visualize how the next day will be. I always tried to see myself being bold. The funny thing is that when the next day came I’ll still be shy and withdrawn but I still didn’t give up visualizing. My sisters were always super curious about why I spent so much time at night on the balcony staring into space. I couldn’t lock myself in my room to meditate because I shared the room with my younger sister.
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Then I Googled how to overcome shyness and found Dr. Aziz Gazipura’s book; The Solution to Social Anxiety. The lessons in that book are amazing, I wrote down conversations daily about my shortcomings of the day between myself and my critic. I tried to get the harsh critic in my head to come on the journey of becoming bold with me and to love me.
I also stumbled upon a lot of successful people who talked about joining Toastmasters International Club. I got proactive, even though I doubted that there was a club in Cameroon, I still searched and attended one of the local club’s meetings. Since then I have become a committed member of the club (I am presently the Vice President of Public Relations) because I know how much the club has helped me in the process of developing my personality.
All these efforts put together coupled with the mental attitude of “Even if I fail now, I need to have compassion for myself because I am learning. Me trying and failing gets me one step closer to my objective of becoming super bold” made me grow in leaps and bounds.
I was hardly ever afraid of making a fool of myself, I went full in. I figured failing forward was the best strategy for me.
Today I still feel some jitters before I speak to a crowd, but I recognize that as excitement now rather than fear. I can hold my own in any gathering or conversation. Developing my personality is the biggest thing I’m doing; it is my biggest and on-going achievement.
When I think of the girl I used to be, I just fast-forward and feel the woman I am now and all that bubbles up from my spirit is THANK YOU IYA. Thank you for believing in me, for not giving up, for loving me in my imperfections, for falling and getting up every time. Thank you for casting your vote in my favor.
Thank you for reading this far. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments.