What is it like to be shy?
For a shy guy like me, this question proves harder to answer than you think. As I stare at a blank page, which frustratingly refuses to be filled, one thought comes to my mind. Inspiration is a fickle bitch. Writer’s block, someone might call it. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a writer. I am, perhaps, an aspiring one at best.
Fortunately, I’m not alone in this. I can always count on Paddy, who has a much better mastery of the language than me. Judging by the sheer number of posts he’s written and is working at any given time, he’s also much better at courting inspiration (he might just have more free time though). It’s not a surprise than that I asked him for advice. He advised me to chose a moment from my life. One that perfectly represents my shyness and how it is a detriment to my life in general. Then, describe it in detail. “The best writing comes out of absolute honesty” (Paddy, 2016). Fuck me, that’s a good quote. That ought to be on a front page of a book. Alternatively, it could be used by a teenager to put on their Facebook wall or tweeter page, without actually and truly grasping its meaning.
Anyway, I followed his advice. I thought long and hard (HA!HA!)… (long and hard, get it?). Searching my memories wasn’t hard. Finding such a specific moment was. I simply cannot pin point such a defining moment. Should I write about all the times in primary school, when all the kids were playing during breaks, and I spent most time alone in a corner, because I wasn’t brave enough to get noticed and join in? Should I write about the times when during social occasions I just sat silently staring at my mug of coffee or pint of beer and didn’t really contribute to the conversation? The last one is as much about being shy as being an introvert, and I’m both. That means I don’t speak unless I have something to say. How about situations when I’m required or expected to speak up? Imagine a seminar or a class in a school, sixth form or university. A question is asked, I know the answer, but still say nothing.
Ok, so I thought of one instance which is probably the best representation of my shyness. A few years age, back when I was till doing my undergraduate course, on my way to get the bachelor degree, I went out with a group of… from the lack of better term, friends (I have quite narrow definition of whom I consider as friends). We got some drinks a pub, until they decided to go to a karaoke bar. I went along, mainly if not only for the company. We were drinking, talking, having fun, until they decided to participate in that time honoured Japanese tradition. They all selected a song and when they turn came they sang in front of everyone (that’s karaoke for you). I did not. I was too shy to do any form of performance in public, even if I was surrounded by friends, and no one really paid much attention. They weren’t great singers, but they didn’t care they had fun and that’s what mattered. I in the meantime sat alone at a table in a corner, staring at my half empty pint of beer, from time to time making a brief and awkward eye contact with other loners in the vicinity.
That was my evening, being alone but in company. I felt miserable. I don’t blame my friends in the slightest, I was angry at myself. And I was jealous. Jealous that they were able to simply forget about everything, to ignore anyone who could stare at them, and simply go crazy and have fun.
By now you might think that I’m a dull loner type. You’re not far off. That’s certainly what others can perceive me as. I know than sometimes come off as that. Most of the times I spend alone. As you can see by the above example, I can be alone even when I’m out with friends. This is probably the worst part of being shy. Being Alone. That little shell I constructed around myself has protected me from anyone getting close pretty well.
Here’s the thing. I can count the friends I have with fingers of one hand. Considering that I moved a few times in my life, from one country to another, I’ve severed almost as many bonds as my shell allowed me to make. Right now the list goes as follows: Paddy… That’s it. Now before you call me a loser or something, hear this. Paddy is the one person who has been able to pierce that shell all the way. There were people who did that, partially and temporarily, but I was lucky enough to find someone as (or possibly more) fucked up as myself. I can honestly say that Paddy is the best friend I ever had. I can be myself when talking to him, my true self. The uncensored, unadulterated self in all its messed up glory. Honestly, if my friendship with Paddy was any better, I think I’d have to marry that pale, Irish prick.
You might be wandering what was that “ode to Paddy” all about. It is to show that being shy is not the end of the world. It can be overcome. I’m pretty sure that I was the first one who spoke when I first met Paddy. That incredibly awkward moment eventually led to us starting a fucking website together. I could go on, on the challenges of being shy, but I’ll leave that for another time. There might be a sequel to… whatever that post is. I can only hope that some of you will relate to what I’ve scribbled here. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll help you try and brake out of your own shell.