This is my story based on my life experiences. I am writing this article because I hope I can help encourage and inspire other shy people to change their life.
When I was a young child...
and then a teenager, I was self-aware, with social anxiety. I was extremely shy. I also had an irrational fear of being noticed and standing out. I just wanted to hide away from people. I also could be easily embarrassed.
When in school, I hated when the teacher called on me and I had to speak in front of the class. My self-awareness was so intense that I would be afraid to cough or sneeze in class. I was afraid it would be really loud and cause a disturbance. I also was afraid to get up and go to the restroom if I needed too because I thought my classmates would notice me.
I eventually started missing the school bus on purpose. I wouldn't get out of bed. I remember my dad dragging me out of the house and putting me in the car to get me to go to school. I was late to school so many times that I had to do in-school-suspension (which is the stupidest thing ever). I then started skipping classes and eventually dropping out of school all together.
I now know all of my fears came from the fact that I had low self-esteem. My parents had their issues and so they didn't exactly nurture me into being a well-rounded, outgoing kind of person.
But I'm so fine now. I'm social, and have made many friends over the years. I even have dating experience, been to many parties, sang in a local band and we performed in front of tons of people and I graduated from University. I know that none of my friends today would even be convinced if I told them about that previous part of my life.
So how did I change?
Well it wasn't easy, but I can tell you that the first thing I did was see a doctor/therapist and got on some anxiety medicine. The medicine actually worked better for me than the therapist, so I quit the therapist but I kept taking the medicine.
Secondly, I met some people who were just like me.
After dropping out of high school, I got my GED. I took some classes that had only a handful of people in them and we got our GED together. The class had a couple of misfits in it who were just like me and so I naturally became friends with them. Making friends with them gave me the social skills i needed to get started.
Thirdly, I guess I just matured a bit.
I outgrew those GED friends. They weren't trying to get anywhere in life and I knew that I always wanted to have a good job so I decided to go to community college. Community college had a way different feel than high school and middle school. Just the whole structure of things and the environment made me feel safe. Also being around people who actually wanted to get somewhere in life made me want to be like them. I made new friends there and my new friends encouraged me to try new things. I eventually decided to join a bunch of different clubs just so I could meet people. I joined the International Students Club, Science Club, Video Game Club and even the Gay Students Club lol and i'm not even gay. I just felt so comfortable because all of these different clubs kind of functioned in my life like a support group of sorts.
Then, I mustered up some courage.
When I realized that I could make friends with really cool people who genuinely liked me, I worked up the courage to try online dating lol, well because I still wasn't ready to date guys that I met offline. I was incredibly nervous at first just trying to show interest. I said some cringe-worthy and awkward things in my attempts to flirt and attract a boyfriend, I even had my heart broken. I may have been a mess at dating however, by just taking that leap and intentionally tying to overcome my shyness, and also by thinking of each failure as a learning experience, I became a natural at dating.
Eventually I transferred to University and had my real first boyfriend/relationship.
Now that I am older...
There are things I wish I could have told my younger self or someone else who is struggling with shyness:
1.) High school and middle school may be your entire world at the time, but it is only just temporary. Once you get to college/university or start working, none of the drama is going to mean anything.
2.) Teenagers/kids are all just d*ckheads so it doesn't matter what they think about you.
What really matters is what employers think of you because if you don't have the right networking and communication skills then it will be incredibly difficult to find a good paying professional job.
3.) If your social skills are bad, then all you need is practice. Go talk to someone. Start out by saying hey and smile. Make friends with people who are like you and practice getting to know them and being yourself around them. Great friends will encourage you to do great things, while lame friends will hold you back and prevent you from being successful.
4.) If you lack dating experience, then go get some, (and make sure you use protection). Chances are, once you take that leap, the first woman/man you flirt with is not going to be your future husband/wife so it is okay if you say stupid stuff, act weird and even embarrass yourself. Just make sure you learn from the experience, move on, stay positive, and have fun. Until you become comfortable with being yourself, socializing, and communicating your likes and dislikes with others, your ideal boyfriend/girlfriend will not be attracted to you.
5.) If you believe you can't overcome your shyness, then you won't. However if you believe you can do it, then you will. Most of the time it is our negative mindset and fear of trying that keeps us from going after the things we dream of. You have to fix your mindset first. You can change! People can change! It happens all the time!!