Are you Shy?
“Scientists have found the gene for shyness.
They would have found it years ago,
but it was hiding behind a couple of other genes.”
– Jonathan Katz
Growing up I heard so many times that I was shy I started to believe it myself. I’m not shy – anymore. I’m not sure I ever was. But it wasn’t easy peeling off a label that was applied to me as such a young age.
I didn’t want this to happen to my children. I decided to never use the word “shy” with them. I could let my friends and family in on my thoughts about it but how could I protect them from the inevitable question from well-meaning strangers?
Our first child, Natasha, was quiet and thoughtful. She wasn’t shy. When a stranger spoke to her and she didn’t reply immediately, it wasn’t shyness that delayed her response, but her consideration of the person’s character. Maybe she was deciding whether or not she wanted to respond. She didn’t feel compelled to fill in the silence as many adults do. I admired that in her.
I also had to protect her from the question that was bound to leap into the pause; “Are you shy?”
My husband was the one who came up with the plan. He told her that some people thought her name was “Shy” and that when someone asked her, “Are you shy?” she should tell them, “No, I’m not Shy, I’m Natasha!” It worked. The label slid right off her, never sticking once. She must have wondered, though, why so many people thought her name was “Shy”.
To this day I cringe when I hear someone telling a child he or she is shy, not that it’s a bad thing to be shy. I just think a child should be able to decide for him or herself who to be.
Are you shy? Have you overcome shyness at some point in your life? How do you deal with shyness?
photo credit: Debbie Chialtas