That’s me hiding behind the flowers! Hiding my light under a bushel so to speak. My first instinct when I see someone I know is often to hide. Why? Not because I’m a rude bitch but because I’m shy. Being a shy person in a world that values loudness and brashness can be tricky. As a teacher, we’re not even supposed to say children are shy anymore but rather they’re, ‘slow to warm up’. Which in my opinion sounds worse! I can sometimes see in class, the munchkin sitting in the back knows the answer but is not prepared to wave their hand in the air and fight for attention calling out, ‘I know! I know! I’ve got my hand up!’ (Yes I can see that, that’s the whole point of the hand up).
When I was at school, it was just called plain old-fashioned shy. I would go bright red in class if called upon to read. I would stare at the ground when introduced to a new person. I would enjoy a moment of peace in the bathroom away from the loud world. At home or with friends though I was free to talk and laugh and shout! I was 2 quite different people, the quiet public person and the outspoken private person. Social occasions could be a virtual minefield. New People! Lots of people! With eyes looking! Quick! That’s my cue to go bright red and stare at the ground. Or as I got older; Quick! That’s my cue to binge drink. And now, the idea of a going to a crowded festival with people brings horror whereas an evening on the couch watching, ‘Midsomer Murders” brings bliss.
I could never rely on making a good first impression and so have bumbled through many introductions and interviews just thinking, ‘I’ll be a normal person once you know me. ’ It seems like this world is set up for the bold and the brash: those talking loudly on their mobiles, selling themselves at interviews, charming suitors on first dates. But as Diana King noted in her 1995 hit, Shy Guy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn9LQZ5tdys (Obligatory 90’s music reference) there are benefits to those who tread quietly on God’s green earth.
The fly on the wall: Shy people are great observers of life. Not talking gives you the opportunity to listen more. ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak’ as good old Epictetus used to say, and presumably take notes for later stories. Many writers past and present are known for their quiet (borderline reclusive) ways and people watching makes train rides a lot more enjoyable.
Often alone, never lonely: Sooner or later we are all alone. Shy people make peace with this early and revel in it. The joy of an empty room, a good book, an episode of Midsomer Murders rather than relying on the shifting sands of other people and external stimulation. When it comes to being with people, we are the take-it-or-leave-it-cat rather than the play-with-me-pat-me dog.
Who is that woman in the corner? While I’m unsure anyone has mistaken my red face for intrigue, shy people are often interpreted as mysterious or aloof. Met with silence, the other person fills in the blanks and their imaginations can run wild. Like how David Beckham looks like he sounds compared to how he actually sounds!
Although shyness has its challenges in this loud world, I would tell that munchkin up the back, ‘It doesn’t matter if they know you know the answer, it only matters that you know you know the answers.’ And also “Midsomer Murders” is a strangely captivating show.
Love and light and flowers to hide behind xxx Yvette