Don’t Use it as a Crutch

For most of my life I have been shy and socially anxious. I admit, I still am, although I have learned quite a bit about my fears and quirks and I know that I am not alone in having these problems. Shyness and social anxiety used to hold me back from doing things I really wanted to do – and I used to make excuses for myself, like, “I can’t join that club because I’m shy. I’ll sit there quiet and have nothing to contribute to the conversation” or “I’m not going to make that phone call because the words won’t come out of my mouth right and I’ll end up sounding like a fool.”

Lately I’ve stopped making excuses and using my shyness as a crutch. I’ve learned that the only way to defeat shyness/social anxiety is to power through it. Ignore it. Pretend it isn’t there. Learn about it. Read about it. There are others who feel the same way you do. You’re not alone. If you’re feeling like you can’t do something or you shouldn’t do something because you’re shy, then that’s usually a good sign that you ought to do it anyway.

When I was a kid, I thought that when I turned 18 or 21, I’d become an “adult” and all my shyness would simply melt away. Alas, that never happened. I thought it was a permanent flaw in my personality that I was that way – almost like it was a kind of mental handicap. But now I refuse to limit myself because of it. If I have to make a phone call, I make it, even though I’m anxious that I’ll sound like an idiot. I have to tell myself that nobody really cares all that much about how I sound or look or act. People, by and large, are primarily concerned with themselves. Nobody’s going to remember all the times you thought you acted awkward or shy.

Basically, shyness and social anxiety are issues that have to be continually worked on. That’s the only way they can ever disappear (or lessen in intensity). There’s no magic pill that will destroy them and there won’t be a magical day when you wake up and discover that they’ve disappeared. Like most worthwhile things in life, destroying your own inhibitions takes a lot of time, effort, and perseverance. So don’t make excuses. Don’t use those things as a crutch. Use them as an excuse to make yourself a stronger person.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Use it as a Crutch

  1. Go Maggie! Agreed on hoping the magical age of 18 would change you. You want to pretend that all your insecurities will magically vanish because you get instant maturity and it really does not work like that. There is a whole lot of work involved =P
    The good news is you will look back and say “I did pretty well and got pretty far” and it feels amazing.

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  2. Totally agreed. I was very much (and still am) a shy introvert in middle school and early high school. But after I took a drama class, I realized that I don’t always have to act like one. I worked hard at it, but I made a lot of friends and participated in numerous clubs and activities (writing club, debate, band, theater) and I think I’m a better person today for it. I’m still an introvert on the inside, though– and that’s OK!

    So I say to you: huzzah, huzzah! for putting yourself out there and working on self-improvement. Most people are too afraid or unwilling to really give themselves a critical evaluation.

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  3. I was exactly the same and still am. It’s good that you’re sharing this with us – that shows that your confidence has grown. Anyway, your characteristics are what make you!

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  4. Good post. It applies to characters, too. They’re just as capable of change as we are, but sometimes we put them in a box and file them away, just as we do with ourselves.

    This also reminds me of a blog post I never finished, about shyness as related to the increasing need for writers to promote themselves. I should dig that out and finish it.

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  5. The only times I feel socially-awkward-to-the-point-I-avoid-people is when I’m going through depression. It’s hard, because that’s the time when I really need people, when I shouldn’t close myself off from the world. Sometimes making the effort to make connections can do wonders in helping me feel better, even though it starts off very difficult.

    Anyway, totally sidetracked comment – it doesn’t sound like your shyness is mood-related.

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    1. It doesn’t really depend on my mood that much… it’s more dependent on my state of self-esteem… if that even counts as a mood.

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      1. I’m not sure if it counts as a mood or not, but it’s definitely related somehow! So here, let me help you: Maggie, you rock! I haven’t read your fiction, but your everyday blogging prose is crisp, flows well, and I’m consistently impressed by your diligence with not only your blog but how much time you dedicate to your creative writing. You’ve got some fantastic people regularly commenting on your blog who also think reading your words is worthwhile, and that, my friend, is a sign of greatness!

        (That’s what an ex-boyfriend of mine called an SEB, a self-esteem booster. Hope you liked it.)

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      2. Self-esteem isn’t a mood (IMHO). If it was, it would be easier to change. Moods can change pretty easily sometimes, for better or worse, but self-esteem can be more difficult to build. And it can affect your mood, obviously.

        Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a few of your blog posts bookmarked because I refer back to them so often (usually when commenting on other blogs: “Maggie over at Maggie Madly Writing says…”) ๐Ÿ™‚

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