How I Overcame Shyness
For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me that I’m shy. Some people have even said, “Stop being so shy!”, as if it’s a horrible thing to be shy. The word shy actually means, “being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.” And a second meaning for shy also has a negative connotation to it: “less than; short of.” As in, “she was just shy of receiving the award.” Shyness seems to be synonymous with just on the cusp of something better. Of something great.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) You may have heard this verse, and thought, “Oh, crap! I need to stop being timid. How do I do that?”
I grew up thinking that being shy was my biggest flaw. That it was something I always needed to try to fix about myself. I just needed to be brave, to speak up, to take a stand. I just needed to try harder. So I set out trying to do just that. I knew that if I just pushed myself, put myself out of my comfort zone every once in a while, that I would become more and more outgoing. Because after all, practice makes perfect!
Well, honestly, all I’ve found trying to go down that road is discouragement. Trying harder did not make me less shy, and therefore a better person. I may have became a little more outgoing in the process, but that really just means that I say things I shouldn’t say more easily now. I speak when I used to have the wisdom to stay quiet. I am too eager to show different sides of myself, and then feel ashamed for being vulnerable in that way when others seem taken back. All of this trying only made me more insecure. I was being validated in my reasons for being shy.
One thing I’ve learned over time is that being shy can (sometimes) actually be a really good thing! Being shy means that I am slow to speak…preventing harm from being done by speaking rashly. Being shy means that I am private…reserving my emotions and true self for those who are most important to me. People who are in the life of a shy person know that they are special, because they get to see sides of her that no one else sees.
Additionally, because I am shy, I notice others who are shy. I am often sitting back and observing in social situations, so I see things that others may not see. I notice the person who is trying really hard to insert himself into a conversation. I notice the person sitting by herself wishing someone would talk to her. I recognize the looks on people’s faces showing that they have so much to say but aren’t saying it. Because of this, I’ve always felt that it is my responsibility to be an advocate for people like myself. For those of us not willing to stand up and defend ourselves.
So, I don’t really have a secret for how to overcome shyness except for this: stop trying! And for those of you who have the same faith as me in Jesus, we can look to Him for boldness. We can look to Him for strength. After all, we were created in His image—we already have the capacity to be bold when we need to be bold. Instead of “try harder”, Jesus says, “trust Me”. Jesus has promised to make us more and more like Him….if we would only trust Him to do it!
Back to this verse: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” The Holy Spirit doesn’t make us timid, but He does give us power, love, and self-discipline! When we need to be bold, God gives us the power. When we need to show love, He helps us go out of our comfort zone for the sake of others. And when we need to do something that makes us uncomfortable, He gives us opportunities to practice boldness.
Sometimes I’m still reserved when I should be bold (and bold when I should be reserved), but God is slowly working things out and turning me into the woman He wants me to be. He is teaching me His wisdom and the truth about who I am in Him. I don’t need to try to be something I’m not, but I do need to depend on Him to make me something that I’m currently not.
Has being shy felt like something that holds you back in life? How can you practice trusting in who God says you are and in who God says you can be?