Open Letter to a Shy Girl7:30 AM
Dear Shy Girl,
I’m not. A shy girl, I mean—not always, in any case. But I couldn’t always claim that. Throw me back a few years and my jaw would dop at you mentioning that I’d have any good, solid friendships at all. I know what it’s like, painfully wanting to speak out, desperately wanting just one person to say hello. There are many misconceptions about girls like you—I bet you believe some of them yourself!—just like there are many misconceptions about girls like me.
From a girl who’s been there, done that (as of yesterday), a girl who’s been called both sociable and shy, outgoing and nervous, talkative and quiet, take it from me that there’s hope—and change. And not the fake stuff the politicians talk about.
You believe lies about yourself, my friend. You think you’re actually shy—a label you put on yourself to stifle your voice and your personality, an excuse you use to ignore those people you are to minister to and those things you ought to speak up about. Quietness is not shyness; if you’re a quieter sort of person, God bless you—you’re coming over to give me lessons. But shyness is, more often than not, an unwillingness, rather than an inability, to express one’s true self.
Because you’ve convinced yourself you’re just a shy person, you feel comfortable in your zone. Anything outside that level of comfort becomes insurmountable to you. You tell yourself that you can’t do it. You tell yourself you’ll always be shy.
That’s a lie. You can do it. You can change. Indeed, you must.
Christ has called us to radical obedience under Him. You must submit everything—everything—to Him, including your weaknesses, fears and self-doubts. He’s in the business of taking nothing and turning it into something. The extraordinary is God; the ordinary is just, well, the ordinary. People like you and me.
Other people don’t believe in you. They look to those who are more confident, louder, bolder, more immune to the hard knocks, thicker-skinned. They look over you. They don’t stop to say hi. They don’t ask you to do big things.
And really, we can fault them for that, for doubting you, for flat-out ignoring you. They shouldn’t. I know you’re special and have something to say. But to be honest, you can be nailed for the same thing.
Who are the girls you’re often looking toward? The popular girls. The pretty girls. The confident girls. Even the mean girls. Shyness is a lonely road when you gaze hopelessly after the ones who don’t need you and forget the ones who do. The cure to isolation is reaching out. Don’t be afraid to do so! Another shy girl is as beautiful a person and as worthy a friend as any hip girl with ten girlfriends and a couple boyfriends to boot.
So look for friends in the right places. Don’t be hypocritical by demanding a friend and refusing to be one. So many girls are shy and lonely like you—why not reach out to a kindred spirit?
I know it’s stiflingly, chokingly hard. Some people think you’re just bluffing shyness (and sometimes you are). They refuse to engage you in conversation, thinking that all shy people are boring or tough to handle, when that’s not the case at all—you just need someone to get you going. The fear of being unaccepted, unwanted and unloved is a tough fear to swallow on command.
Don’t choke it down. (It’ll get jammed and you’ll feel awful.) Replace it with the confidence that comes from knowing who you are from Christ. Don’t change who you are. Bad idea. Playing fake is the quickest way to scare off confidence. Surrender who you are.
Only .00009% of people are genuinely confident. Of that number, most are usually arrogant or ignorant. Everyone hides fears, doubt and self-consciousness under different masks. Nobody’s perfect.
The hardest thing about being a not-so-shy girl is juggling humanity and others’ opinions about my “supergirl” confidence. It’s depressing when people treat me as unapproachable or special. I’m just a girl—like you. We probably have more in common than not. It’s hard for me to introduce myself to new people, to find points of common interest, to make a mistake and not go home and cry about it. “Confident” people are human, too. And we need friends. We need you, dear shy girl, we need you to care about us, ask how we are, take initiative, instead of making us drive the conversation and initiate the friendship. We’re broken people with needs just like you. And you are fully equipped—“special enough”—to be an amazing friend.
The biggest lie you’ve been told is that you, a shy girl, have nothing in common with more talkative people. Baloney. Shy girls are awesome—you’re normally the most fun, giggly, mile-a-minute talkers out there! You’re usually the most loyal and pure in heart. You do the world a disservice by hiding behind a paralysis of fear. We love girls like you.
You can also be manipulative and selfish. (I speak because I’m quite acquainted with one particular shy girl named Bai—but I won’t name the guilty.) Sometimes you take the easy road by never reaching out, or latching on tightly to sweet girls who have nothing in common with you. Sometimes you spoil the fun by refusing to join in or boiling over with embarrassment or requiring a nice person to babysit your needs. When you don’t reach out to others, they have to work harder to reach out to you…and even the nicest person on earth doesn’t find that pleasant work.
In this life, true friendship is dirty work. It takes equally guts and grace. I think you’re up to that task—deep down. I think you know your capabilities; you know you’re special; you know you have something to say, and you want to say it.
What’s stopping you? Shyness? Oh, never mind that. You’re more than your shyness. And it’s time you were heard. I’ll be listening.
(And cheering for you.)
A Sometimes-But-Not-Always-Shy Girl
p.s. I hope this didn't come across as snotty?