It is almost a rule. Every time I confess that I am shy and that I have once suffered from social anxiety, people get puzzled faces on. I wonder if this amazement comes from the fact that today I expose myself in public quite often and that I have demonstrated liking doing so? Also, it is very satisfying to use the verb “to suffer” in the past, as today I am better able to manage the stress that comes from social exposure. However, for an extended period of my life – particularly from the beginning of adolescence right until 2016 – I have experienced paralyzing-shyness.

First let’s make something clear: shyness is quite a broad term to be used irresponsibly. It generalizes a vast array of behaviours one can have in a social environment. There is a long spectrum of shyness, and where you are on it depends on several factors such as day, place, and situation – it is contextual. People are not shy all the time, everywhere, or the same way.

It was for this particular ambiguity of the term that I never knew I was shy. For most of the time, I was very comfortable with people around. Nonetheless, this was a false sensation – a product of my “selective-shy” agenda: I took out of it all the events that made me socially uncomfortable and substituted them for the ones I felt good by being part of. For instance, if someone invited me to go down to Chapter’s ground floor and meet people, I would have too many good excuses not to go – always. Don’t get me wrong: preferring to stay home is definitively fine, the problem is when you do not make this choice consciously.

Before, I have always thought that it was a conscious choice of mine not to socialize and that it only reflected my introverted profile. What I did not realize is that I would much rather be down there meeting new people from all around the world and making friends rather than watching random YouTube videos in my room 8.8. This example was an easy one on which path to take. However, sometimes the choice between socializing or not is less clear. For instance, I used to book theatre plays, classical concerts, tickets for art exhibitions, and even random courses, so I did not have to participate in social events. By doing this, I had a rational backup for why I was not engaging with my peers. Not I knew that I was only fooling myself.

The continuous preference for the comfortable eventually made me sad. My first year at Uni passed by slowly as if I was enduring a long cold night. As it is usual for someone in this situation, I tried to find what was to blame for my grief. There were many imaginary villains: the weather, the language, the food, the Financial Accounting professor, and Hult itself. I wrote lists of why my experience was awful, filed formal complaints to the Dean and even reached a tipping point of withdrawing my enrolment. Fortunately, none of these materialized in action, as I am writing for you today – happily.

Although I could not have done any differently, I plead only myself guilty for that period of sadness. It happens that I did not know the true sources of my sorrow. Self-awareness is something we always think we have until we (in the future) see we didn’t. It is a challenging task, too. Most people I know don’t have a clue about who they are -myself included – and do not move a finger to discover. Internal meditation is painful, and it requires dealing with the truth. To look into our psyche is to discover many problems you did not know you had. However, it is the first step to solve them.

The journey to discover a bit more about who I am began in September 2015, when I flew to London to start my degree in business. Since then, I understood that paralysing-shyness was preventing me from living the life I wanted to live, both personally and professionally. Part of the solution came with maturity, but most of it came with awareness and action. It was crucial to have that “painful” moment because it allowed me to dig into my deepest values and understand a bit more about who I am. Please, do not take this essay as a guide for self-enlightenment, as I neither intended or could have done that. This was a piece of my story whose narrative is still in its Preface.

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