Most of us feel shy at some time in life, when we meet someone new, when we stretch ourselves to participate in a new event or when we are at an edge to do or share something deeply personal.
Shyness can come upon us in the most unpredictable moments, leaving us quiet, perplexed, frozen or suddenly pulled inward. The common strategy is then to fight it, hide it or simply feel bad about it or ourselves.
Yet few of us see shyness as also beautiful.
I adore shyness. Mostly because I have learned it is usually a doorway to something richer, quieter and wilder within all of us. A gateway to something less conventional and more uncontained, to a part of us that is freer to dive into the immense and mysterious waters of the soul. It is sometimes a part of us that communes and longs for our most authentic nature and to share it.
Shyness can often be the entry point to a deep, vulnerable feeling or knowing that we feel less comfortable expressing to others and often even allowing ourselves to know. It can also speak of creative visions and quirky or heartfelt desires just out of our everyday awareness.
I got to thinking about shyness again because it arose as I went to reach out to my community after being quiet for so long, absorbed in a transformative master’s program that left little time for writing anything but assignments.
So I took a moment to be friendly with my shyness and discover it more fully- a sweet, quiet heart-centred feeling plus something else — an energy in conflict with it that pushed down on it. Left untended it was obvious this would certainly lead me to avoid writing even longer. When I unfolded it I discovered a profound gratitude and heart-stretching love for my community, and a vulnerability to express it. Could I just share all this love? The quiet yet downing energy said no, I should be professional and write something purely useful. My shyness says “I feel this love” – shyness speaks the voice of my heart that would rather rest in vast gratitude than try to create something conventionally functional. I let myself rest there and soak in the gratitude. And then came the shift to write freely.
So when shyness visits you I encourage you, rather than dismiss her, to be curious about the secrets and whispers she brings with her.
Pause to breathe and slip a little deeper into the experience of it. It may be something you have never truly explored before. Perhaps it has just made you squirm in the past? Make friends with it and see the treasures shyness leaves before you, just out of the reach of your everyday mind.
As an admirer of shyness, I would love to gift you my favourite tip for shy moments: instead of trying to repress or conceal them simply play with communicating about it. In my experience, most people love it when you are honest about feeling shy or suddenly being shy in a moment or to know it as part of your personality.
There is something endearing and beautiful about the vulnerability of shyness and the courage to share it. We can all relate to being shy and somehow we also sense the deeper edge of self-revelation shyness often leaves us resting at, and thus we are moved by it without any further words needed.
Shyness speaks a silent language that reaches out and touches our common humanity and our hearts.
(photograph by Zara Walker, Via Upsplash)