19 Mar I’m Shy, But… (5 seconds of Courage)
I’m am a self-proclaimed introvert, and am extremely shy. I joke that it’s a wonder I have any friends, or that I even manage to leave my house. And while that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s not really. I could probably go for a long time without communicating with other human beings.
I could easily read, write, watch TV, anything, completely alone for a while. And while I would start to feel lonely, it’s not the same lonely as what I imagine extroverts would feel cut off in the same way. And I am also extremely nervous when it comes to speaking to people I’ve just met. I get tongue-tied just introducing myself. My name comes out of my mouth like I’ve never said it before. I forget to ask questions back because I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten through 2 sentences without stumbling, and I never know the proper way to walk up to someone and greet them. And the more important the meeting or conversation is, the more stressed I get and the more I forget how to speak, the more my hands shake, and the more I want to run from the room.
In those moments I don’t understand extroverts. I don’t understand how they can strive under pressure, how they can get energy from the people around them, how they always know what to say, what questions to ask, and how to seem so relaxed and comfortable in front of a crowd.
I always want to run away and usually wish someone else could do those awkward or difficult things for me. I always wish I could, instead, interact solely over email. I wish there were a manual that would show me exactly what to do, how to act, and, really, how to just be more comfortable with new people. And really, I just wish I didn’t have to do these things.
BUT I don’t run away.
The biggest thing that sets me apart from the extremely shy person I claim to be, is that when it counts, when the moment comes I do something that goes beyond my entire personality, my entire mindset, and, it often feels, the way nature intended to be.
I just have 5 seconds of courage.
You might have heard of this before because I’m definitely not the one who came up with it, though I wish I were because I use it all the time. It was in a movie, I think, but it was 20 seconds of courage, instead of 5. But 5 seems more manageable, and really, you won’t be counting anyway.
Here’s how it begins.
When I’m alone, or sometimes with close friends, I’m much more outgoing that I really am. At least in my own head I feel comfortable, confident, and secure. I feel like I could do anything in the world if I wanted to. And that’s ONLY because I feel comfortable.
I’ve said it before that shyness usually is brought out by discomfort. But in those moments of comfort, I imagine all the things I want to accomplish. For this blog, for example, I want to connect with other bloggers and learn about their sites, I want to go to WIT Summit and hear about these topics. Or for travel, I want to take a ferry from Finland to Estonia, I want to go into a real coffee shop in Amsterdam, or I want to make a travel buddy. And in the long run, I want to be published, I want to have a following, and I want to have a level of success.
Most of those things would seem scary to a shy person, and they are scary. There’s something in each of them that could go wrong, I might make a fool of myself to the bloggers, I may not fit in at WIT Summit, I may get lost in Estonia and miss the ferry back, I might get laughed at when I don’t know how to order weed in a coffee shop, or I might not find ANYone who likes me. I may be rejected by 100 agents or publishers and I may flop if I am able to publish a novel.
There’s always something to be afraid of. And while I feel all of those fears and emotions while I’m actually doing those things, before, when I have a clearer mind, I can see why they’re important, I can see why I long to do those things, why I would be disappointed not to, why it would help me grow as a person. So when I’m in the moment, when the time comes to actually do instead of think, I do it. Period. I don’t allow myself any leeway. I take 5 seconds and fill it with courage that I draw from those moments of confidence and security. It takes 5 seconds to introduce yourself. It takes 5 seconds to push yourself into the coffee shop. It takes 5 seconds to ask for a ticket to Estonia. It takes 5 seconds to speak up, to press send on an email. 5 seconds is pretty quick, and it might not work for everything, but you can take 5 seconds to rev yourself up for the task, pushing yourself from cowering, to longing and heading forward with what you wish to do.
So when I say I’m shy, I think people assume I’m a coward, that I’m constantly backing away from things or giving up, or hiding. (And sometimes I find myself thinking that way of other shy people too because it’s easy to misinterpret.) But I’m also a traveler, and I’m able to take myself from being afraid of most things to being strong, with only for 5 seconds of courage. Because those 5 seconds can last longer, they give you the momentum to propel forward to new things.
So I’ve recently started thinking, “I’m shy, but…” I won’t let that stop me from accomplishing the things I want to. And I’m still going to embrace who I am, where I’ve come from, and not pretend I’m outgoing. Because I am shy and introverted and I like most things that come with that personality. I like daydreaming, having creative thoughts, I like time to myself to relax.
But I can’t do those things I’ve always wanted to do if I constantly back away from things that scare me, from what makes me uncomfortable. I just have 5 seconds of courage and I’m going to use each time to do something new. And so far, it’s paid off.
Do you have something similar to my 5 seconds of courage? And if you don’t, try it! Whether you’re really shy, just slightly uncomfortable around people, or are totally outgoing, sometimes you need a little extra push to do something major in life. Tell me in the comments below! I love to hear how other people deal with difficult situations and come out on top!