I must have been born the shyest person on earth. As a kid, I never raised my hand in school and barely talked to friends. During freshman year of high school I spent my lunch hours pretending to talk on a payphone to avoid talking to anyone in person. Despite months of work to qualify for National Championships, I barely spoke one or two sentences to my UCLA Mock Trial team. At the UCLA School of Law, I often ditched classes when I realized the Professor was going to call on me that day. It is a wonder that I became an attorney and college instructor, jobs that required me to speak in front of people. I have now been accused of being a Social Butterfly by friends and coworkers. How did I overcome my shyness? Alcohol. Lots and lots of it. Okay, kidding aside, here are the ways I overcame my shyness.
I Accepted That I Was Shy, and Committed to Changing Myself
Although I was really very shy and socially awkward, I was often accused of being stuck-up, unfriendly, and unapproachable. I blamed other people for being mean and I pretended that I didnt care that nobody wanted to be my friend. Eventually, I became sick of being lonely and perceived as somebody I was not. I accepted the fact that I was just a really shy person. Once I accepted that I was shy, it was easier to commit to changing myself.
I Set Small Attainable Goals to Overcome Shyness and Made Myself Approachable
I accepted that I was not going to blossom into a social butterfly overnight. I set small goals to make myself become a more approachable person. When I was shy, I never smiled at people, never looked people in the eye, nor made myself remotely approachable. Realizing this, I set small goals to make myself appear friendlier. I smiled at people who passed me by. I looked at people in the eyes when they spoke to me. I walked slower so that I didnt always looked so rushed. I made myself approachable, and people became more receptive to talking to me. These seem like such miniscule goals for someone who isnt shy, but they were necessary skills I needed to master.
I Learned to Have Confidence in Myself and Things Became More Natural
As a shy person, I often avoided people because I was afraid that they would think I was boring. However, I slowly learned to have confidence in myself. I accepted that I wasnt going to please everybody, and that it doesnt matter if people liked me or not. I realized that if a person was really interested in me and what I had to say, they would ask me questions and show an interest in my interests. Once I realized this, conversations became more natural and comfortable.
Being a Social Butterfly Doesnt Mean I Had to Always Talk
Showing an interest in other people, and allowing them to talk is apart of being social. Asking follow up questions regarding their interests shows that you are interested in that person. By showing other people that you are interested, you become a person that they can trust. Trust, as we all know, leads to friendship. We all have that one friend whos favorite topic of conversation is well, himself. That person is always looking to change the topic of conversation back to his one interest, and he never asks questions about you and your interests. You dont want to be that person. Asking questions and showing interest goes a really long way.
Realize That it is a Lifelong and Evolving Process to Overcome Shyness
I continue to feel socially awkward around people, and at times I revert to my shyness (this is when the bottle of gin comes out). However, just realize that it is a lifelong process, and that it is okay to be shy once in awhile. Mastering your shyness will help you become a successful professional woman, viewed as a leader, gain more clients, and expand your social life. Fly away Butterfly, and expand your wings to social freedom and success!
Any tips on how you overcame your shyness or some other adversity? Please leave a comment and share.