My Struggle With Timidity

‘’No matter how brilliant, intelligent or talented you are, if you are too timid, you will miss out on many opportunities that can better your life. The floor belongs to the bold.’’
I wrote the above on my Facebook status last year, and it garnered hundreds of reactions and comments from people who were struggling with timidity.
I posted the same a week ago, and over five hundred people acknowledged it. Apparently, a lot of people are timid, and they hate it. As requested, I decided to share my timidity story and how I’ve been able to manage it.
Timidity is simply shyness, and shyness is the fear of social interactions.
Growing up, I thought I was the shyest person on the planet. It was so bad that entering a room with a minimum of two people got my heart pounding against my chest.
As a teenager, I couldn’t make eye contact with people when talking with them. I was an indoor person. I preferred staying indoors to read and write to going out and meeting people.
Timidity prevented me from answering questions in class, even if I was 100% sure of the answer (this continued until my university days, although not as severe as before). The truth is, not many people knew this about me.
I didn’t like the way I was. I envied my peers who were so outspoken and acted like they had no care in the world. I wondered why I just couldn’t be like them. I was (I still am, lol) a brilliant girl, but timidity was ruining me. So I decided to work on myself (I’m still working on myself).
I have greatly improved. I engage in some stuff now that no one would ever believe that I was that girl who couldn’t make eye contact when talking with others.
Before I share tips on how I managed timidity, it’s important to understand some causes of the monster. Yes, timidity is a monster. Anything that prevents you from maximizing your full potential is a monster.

Causes of Timidity

There are many causes of timidity, but I’ll share five basic ones with you:


Nature partially determines our personality, that is, genetics. So, timidity can be an inherited gene, and this explains why some children are naturally outspoken while some are reserved.
This is not anyone’s fault, as we don’t get to choose our genes. I think for me, timidity was basically genetic. I grew up knowing I was shy. But the good news is that it’s not unchangeable.


Nurture is another factor that determines a person’s personality. Remember the nature-nurture controversy? Yeah.
It refers to the environment of exposure, and it includes the family, school, and peer group. A child who grows up in a family where the children’s opinions are respected and are allowed to express themselves is not likely to be as shy as a child who grows up in an inhibiting environment.
Planning group projects and group activities in school and encouraging students to be expressive will improve students’ social interaction.
Fear of Failure
Excessive fear of failure and fear of not doing things right also leads to timidity. Shy people are usually obsessed with the fear of saying the wrong thing, giving the wrong answer to a question, tripping while walking, forgetting their lines in a speech, laughing inappropriately in public or doing anything socially awkward that may lead to embarrassment. They tend to avoid social situations because of this.
Excessive self-consciousness
While a healthy dose of self-consciousness is crucial in social interactions, too much of it can lead to timidity.
Shy people are self-absorbed; they think that they are the object of everyone’s analysis, so they become so conscious of themselves, what they say and what they do.
Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem
This is another major cause of timidity. If you don’t have confidence in yourself/your abilities or you think low of yourself, maybe because of your unpleasant pasts, past failures, poverty, abuse, you may become timid and fearful of human interactions.
So how did I manage to deal with this limiting monster?

Ways I Overcame Timidity

1. I wasn’t happy with my situation
I wanted to be better, and this is the first step to experiencing a change in any unpleasant situation you find yourself.
The desire for improvement gives you the motivation you need to take some other actions. You cannot experience a change in your comfort zone.
2. Don’t expect a drastic change or a total personality transformation
Variety is the spice of life. Everyone cannot be sociable and outspoken. However, if shyness is robbing you of scarce life opportunities and meaningful relationships, then it’s a problem for you.
It’d shock you that many celebrities are shy in real life, but this doesn’t stop them from fulfilling their potentials, and that is the purpose of this article.
I’m still my introverted self. I’m more of a listener than a talker, except I’m teaching. Too much talk bores me. I’m probably not the type of person that would stand up to talk in a hall of a thousand people, but I’m no longer that girl that would shy away from meeting people, no matter how many they are.
There are still some gatherings that I can stand up to address, and timidity is not stopping me from putting some of my abilities to use. I wrote ‘some’ because I have some potentials that require a great deal of boldness to utilize. And I’m working on that.
3. Engage in activities that will threaten your shyness
I wish I could tell you that boldness will fall on you while you wish for it or while you remain a couch potato, but life is not a fairy tale. Taking up responsibilities that will push your timidity into oblivion is probably the most important step in overcoming timidity.
Courage is not the absence of fear but doing what you have to do regardless of the fears and barriers you may encounter. Courage is doing it afraid! If you want to feel bold before you do what you have to do, then you won’t ever get anything done.
I’ve always loved Bible study, so I joined Bible study unit in the fellowship in nursing school. The first Sunday I was to teach, my heart almost ripped in fear. I was tempted to run out or wished that mother earth would be kind enough to open up and swallow me and save me from the impending embarrassment.
But I did it. I did it so well. A year and some months later, I became the head of that same department.
During my undergraduate days, I took my presentations seriously and would even volunteer to be the speaker during group presentations.
During one of such times, a lecturer mentioned me as one of the two best presenters. Currently, I teach in church and also recently joined the choir, even though I tell myself I can’t sing. Lol.
I encourage you to take up responsibilities that will shrink your timidity. With practice, shyness would become a thing of the past in your life.
4. Use the social media to your advantage
I’m very active on Facebook where I share my thoughts. I used to be so concerned about what people would say, so I shied away from writing on some topics. But now, I write boldly on any topic I like until people called me ‘controversial’. I’m not controversial. I only write what many want to share but don’t have the needed guts.
So, having a voice online has helped to build my confidence. A lot of people share with me how I inspire them and how they look forward to meeting me in real life. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them by being timid.
Use the social media to boost your confidence. You can start by sharing your opinions in the comment section on people’s posts. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. Stop hiding and claiming you are learning. Add your input. Stop being a monitoring spirit. 
5. Associate with people who encourage you to come out of your shell
The company you keep matters a lot. If you associate with people who are outspoken and are not scared to air their opinions, you’ll find yourself becoming like them. Most of my intimate friends are extrovert, and I’ve learnt to be talkative with them.
6. Take care of your looks
There’s a positive relationship between beauty and confidence. When you know you are beautiful, it’s easy to walk with your shoulders high. Ugly people suffer from low self-esteem.
Your physical appearance is what you make of it. If you don’t work on your looks, you won’t look good. In this era of makeup, ugliness is a sin. Get yourself some good skin products, not bleaching products.
Get affordable makeup and wear nice hairstyles that suit you. If you are a man, wear the haircut that suits you. Dress smart and eat good food. Use deodorants. Wear neat clothes. You don’t need to break a bank to look good. You only need to be creative.
7. Discover yourself, your passion and your talents
Knowing that you have something meaningful that can benefit others instills confidence in you and pushes you out there. Don’t allow timidity kill your potentials.
8. Be good at what you do
In fact, be excellent at what you do. Be a god at what you do. Excellence gives you boldness. You’d rarely be timid doing what you know how to do best.
You are likely to be scared of failure if you are an amateur. Also, whenever you are called to do anything, maybe to give a talk, teach others, give a presentation, PREPARE well. Ill preparation will only set you up for embarrassment.
If you are suffering from timidity, I hope you’ll apply these tips that worked for me and start your journey to being confident.
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20 thoughts on “HOW I OVERCAME TIMIDITY”

  1. I was so shy back in the days,so much so that it affected my relationships. I felt I didn't deserve better even though I knew I did. Still battling my shyness but now that I have a daughter,i wouldn't want her to be like me. I really want her to no her worth,so she doesn't ever settle for less due to being timid. Wish I read this article back in the days but o well its never late to change. Thanks a lot for this

  2. Thanks, Olumabel. Am a still a work in progress. Being a god at what i do has helped me alot. Gone are the days of expecting to be embarrassed due to failure or uncertainty. I used to concur whenever an opinion I share is aired by another, but now I repeat same point in my own words.
    Once I do this I feel more comfortable within the group.

  3. You know, while reading through your liberating post on the abov topic, my mind went as far back to when I was in my secondary school days. I severely shied then an SC it affected me then a great deal.

    Many at times in the class, I would find it difficult to relate with my colleagues in the class. Why? Because I thought I couldn't speak English. I concluded as a result of low-self esteem and lack of self-confidence that I don't have what it takes to express myself in good command of English. Oh! How I suffered as a result of this monster called TIMIDITY.

    I hardly say a word during school hours because timidity has paralysed my ability to relate in English Language. You would only hear me speak so loudly after school hours in vanacular with my friends on our way home. Oh! Mabel! I suffered.

    Sadly, this went on all through my secondary school days till I left the school.

    I overcame it by one of the points you raised there. By discovering myself and passion and as a result, I've helped younger ones in the same shackles do the same. Now, sometimes, I asked myself why I couldn't live like this then that I was in school. Most times I just smiled.

    Timidity tames potential.

    Thanks for sharing, OluMabel.

    Love you!

  4. Thanks alot ma, am the extremely shy type. I don't like it, and want to come out of it really. Though there is little improvement now, but I want more. I learnt a lot from your experience, it came at te right time. More grace ma

  5. Thanks a lot for this ma, am the extremely shy type, like seriously. I don't like and really want to get out of it. Though there is great improvement now but I want more, I really do.
    And I have learnt alot from your experience, it really came at the right time. More grace ma

  6. I have observed over time that a many (including me) are timid not because we are incapable of inadequate, but because we are more concerned about what others think of us than we are about fulfilling our potentials. Despite being at the forefront quite early in life, I still battle timidity from time to time…Infact I have nearly given up on boldness and have resolved to pursue courage instead.

    Insightful piece!

  7. It is true that timidity swallows one's potentials and all he/she has to offer. No one sees much in a shy person. A shy person talks more within,it's advisable to put it in writing,have people read it and tell you what you've got and you will encouraged to share with others using your mouth,standing before crowds. Am an introvert myself,very intense that I prefer bn alone staring at d ceiling lik non-existent person,lol. But I got better when I met outspoken people who advised me to say just anything,even what I thought was senseless and it helped me a lot because I never spoke nonsense as a result of the tangibles and quality I have within me. I am still working on myself though,wanna be better. Thumbs up Olubunmi.

  8. Well, I used to think I was not shy until I had to stand before about a hundred youth few months ago. As i held the mic, i discovered in just few minutes, my palms had become so sweaty… And that's my sign of timidity.

    After the program, hubby looked at me and shook head. He was like "… Really! You're timid!…"

    Like… I don't get too.
    I sat down and tried to analysed myself. I realized I'm bold only if my audience are familiar faces. Put me before a strange audience and see me shiver.

    I'll try this tips… Especially that one that talked about Pushing Yourself. I think i need to start pushing myself to speak where I should irrespective of the kind of people present.

    Then another point I need to take very seriously is that Self Esteem thingy. I have low self esteem. I have low self esteem… I know it. I know it's the tomb blocking me from rising into my fantastic self.
    But right now, I'm rolling it away… I'm stepping out.

    This post is just like a seal on what have been running through my for weeks now. Thanks sweet friend. Keep it up. ��

  9. Bunmi darling,Thanks for this�� Courage is not the absence of fear but doing what you have to do regardless of the fears and barriers you may encounter. Courage is doing it afraid!

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