Friday, March 20, 2009

The Wrong Kind of Shy

So I know I promised you more about Butler’s writing theories, but I haven’t had time to type them up. I promised myself a few years ago that I would never let my blog (and my hopes for it, and my dreams of people sitting on the edges of their seats waiting for my next installment—ah, yes) interfere with the actual living of my life. And so, the fact that I haven’t updated often lately is actually a good sign—as sign that my life is busy and full and I am participating in it fully. I’ve been doing AML, Segullah, poetry workshop, my own writing (including the novel—yes, we’re back together again), cubscouting (having a hard time with that one), stake conference, friend-hanging, kid-hanging (off track this month), and reading some darn good books! So . . . sorry (but not really).

Anyway, I went to a poetry reading yesterday and felt pretty awkward. Because I look like a Mormon housewife, which is not the “in” look for a poetry reading, let me tell you. Among the students, the “in” look includes very skinny jeans and floppy knit hats that look like ski hats (what’s with that?). And then there were the poets, who all manage to look world-wise and sophisticated and sort of tired. Very nonchalant. Also, everyone in the room but me was drinking wine. Several of them were classmates of mine from the poetry workshop, so I see them every week. Why not talk to them? But the result of my self-consciousness (feeling very boring and naive) is that I just kept to myself. Why, after all, would any of those people want to know me?

But on the way home I realized the folly of my ways. By being so self-conscious (and insecure) I am being stand-offish and depriving myself (and them!) of a potentially interesting friendship. It’s a kind of shyness that has as it’s root self-centeredness. Maybe all shyness does, but this kind seems more glaring in its selfishness than the kind which renders people simply afraid to talk to others. I’m not afraid to smile, greet people, etc. I just assume they wouldn’t be interested in ME. But so what? Does the world revolve according to levels of interest in MOI?

I’m thirty-eight years old and yet the lessons I continue to learn about myself and how to live brightly and freely continue to astound me. Will I ever be grown-up?


Anonymous said...

That does sound like an intimidating environment.

I think I shared this somewhere on someone's blog recently, but I like it enough to share it again. We had a Stake RS talk recently by a sister in our stake who was once Miss Utah. (I frankly kind of expected not to like her talk but then loved it.) One thing she talked about was going to the Miss America pageant and being terribly intimidated by everyone else's beauty and talent and feeling extremely shy and awkward, but she was given the advice to find someone who appeared to be even more uncomfortable than she was and to do what she could to try to set that person at ease and make them feel comfortable and befriended. She followed that advice and said it took her out of her own discomfort, and she also said that she's used that strategy ever since whenever she's feeling shy or awkward.

I suppose it's a little bit cutesy of a solution, but I did like the basic idea that (as you said) shyness can be a kind of narcissism, and truly caring about others can convert shy people into people who in spite of their shyness do reach out.

All that said, it can be extra hard to do that in a context where everyone appears to have no need of you. Now, who was it who said (I'm thinking it was Elder Eyring?) something like that if you treat everyone as though they're having serious troubles in their life, much of the time you'll be right? (The actual quote says it much better, though.)

Ang said...

I wish I was cool enough to figure out how to wear one of those hats . . .

Th. said...


If it makes you feel better, I unknowingly ate a cupcake made with Guinness this week. (I had thought it tasted a little strange.)

Michelle said...

ooh, I do that too-- I am the wrong kind of shy way too often. But you, my friend, could pull off the skinny jeans. I guess I know what to buy you for your birthday now. ;)