Personal Blog: Overcoming Shyness

Jude Ratcliff, Managing Editor

Walking through the hallways, eyeing everyone who looks at you sideways. Is it your shoes? Your hair? Is there some strange rumor going around regarding a chicken, the Spanish hall and a copy machine that you absolutely had no part in? There’s an easy answer to all of those questions– no! Of course it isn’t!

That’s easier said than believed, however. Coming up through high school, most people considered me the “shy kid” that sat at the back of the class and didn’t talk to anyone. People would come back to talk to me so for their good deed for the day, or maybe they just wanted to see if I really talked. Looking someone in the eyes was nearly an Olympian trial of its own accord. 

Almost everyone is used to being a fish out of water– nearly a third of society is an introvert, and about half of all adults self-identify as shy. The reasons for shyness are plentiful: your parents will tell you its social media, your classmates will say its high school, and heck, maybe it’s Maybelline? But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what causes it. Social media isn’t going away, high school never ends, and “Maybe it’s Maybelline” jokes will forever be hilarious. We have to adapt to the world around us, we can’t change it.

My journey towards confidence began with the realization that not only is everyone else having the same worries that I am, but that they are so preoccupied with doing so that they can’t even be bothered to focus on what I look like unless something is totally out of order. In other words, people are too busy worrying about themselves to judge others as harshly as we judge ourselves.

Fear of others, however, is only half the battle. Fear of self can guide one towards shyness, and in my case, anxiety over not being the person I wanted to be guided me to close myself off, believing myself to be unworthy of others’ company until I was somebody I was happy with. To combat this, I worked towards shrugging off the notion that there was any “perfect” version of Jude, an Übermensch, a Superman. There was only one Jude, and I had to be the best “Jude” I could be. I evaluated what was most important to me– loyalty to those close to me, investment in music and writing, an insistence on using puns and humor in an otherwise serious and introspective essay. 

Ultimately, what was most important to me was not being shy, which isn’t itself a flaw. Shy people tend to be more introspective, more analytical. In becoming less shy, I haven’t become better, simply different. What I most needed was confidence in a time where I didn’t wholly believe in myself. And by evaluating what I didn’t like and changing what I was self-conscious about, I gained that acceptance of self that everybody should strive for, not the alignment to an admirable set of traits. Our diversity is what makes us unique, and shyness isn’t a trait to be admonished.