‘’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 Facebook 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 (I still am) a couch potato. 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 till my university days, although not as severe as before). The truth is, only a few 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 can prevent you from maximising your full potential is a monster.
CAUSES OF TIMIDITY
There are many causes of timidity, but I’ll share five basic ones with you:
Heredity: 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.
Environment: 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 lead 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?
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.
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 celebrated musicians and artists are shy in real life, but this doesn’t stop them from fulfilling their potential, 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 utilise. And I’m working on that.
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 during my Registered Nursing training in 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 don’t sing. Lol.
So 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.
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 till people call 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 a nerd.
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.
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.
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. Natural beauty is a myth. 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 (I can recommend excellent organic skin care experts for you if you want. Get rid of your dull skin). 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.
Discover yourself, your passion and your talents. Knowing that you have something meaningful that can benefit others instils confidence in you and pushes you out there. Imagine Funke Akindele (Jenifa) not acting because she’s shy? I read somewhere that she confessed to being shy. I find it hard to believe anyway. Lol. Imagine other celebrities not doing their thing because of timidity. Don’t allow timidity kill your potentials.
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.
Did you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comment box. You can also share your timidity story in the comment box, or you can send it to my email – email@example.com
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