Shyness…Center Stage

I’m shy. You might not realize that with my blogging, but I actually outgrew extroversion as a teenager and settled into a neatly introverted adulthood. Where I once loved being the center of attention as a kid, it makes me very uncomfortable now.

What’s funny about this is that I’ve spent most of my adult life teaching. I’ve stood up in front of anywhere from 80 to 200 people to talk about constellations, to share folklore. Sometimes at work, I have to stand in front of the 30-40 teachers and students present to do announcements. If I could, I’d join a choir…just to be back in the performing arts (which I miss) again.

I want to make video tutorials for some of my math articles, and every time I look at the microphone, I panic.

Having people’s attention focused on me makes me feel like a fraud, even when I know what I’m doing.

Oddly enough, this isn’t an unusual phenomenon. Shy people are prolific throughout the performing arts. They do their art, and then they retreat to a sanctuary to recover from the experience. Most people would never guess that the bold, confident, friendly person they watch in an interview or meet at a convention goes home to just decompress from having to be so social.

I’m the same way. If I have to spend too much time in the spotlight, I’ll handle it with the confidence and grace expected of me, and then I’ll find the nearest dark corner to hide in to regroup my thoughts.

Is it challenging? Yes. Does it ever get any easier? Sure… Once you’re used to where you are and what’s expected of you, you develop quick coping strategies to allow you to accommodate those around you. Are there days when the social contact becomes so overwhelming that you start seriously consider becoming a hermit? Constantly.

How do you handle it? Figure out where your limits are, and then be very defensive of them, even if you just have to excuse yourself to get a breath of fresh air for a minute, and treat yourself to down time every chance you get.


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