April 24, 2008

Hidden

Hiding

As a little kid, I was painfully shy. I was terrified the first few days of kindergarten, frightened to be in a room full of kids I didn't know. I can still remember the first time the teacher asked me a question, trying to get me to speak up in front of the class. I knew the answer — I always knew the answers — but I couldn't bring myself to talk aloud into the silence of the room. The other kids turned to look at me, all of us sitting at these little tables, about 8 kids to a table, and the silence grew bigger and bigger until it filled the room all the way up to the ceiling. I couldn't break that silence, I just couldn't, so I shrugged as if I didn't know the answer, and finally, to my great relief, the teacher asked someone else.

As an adult, I don't act shy at all. I am perfectly comfortable at social events, even if I know no one there. I am comfortable speaking to crowds, I like to meet people, and I'm definitely an extrovert. When I tell people that I am shy, most laugh and think I'm kidding. But I still think of myself as a shy person, even though I don't act that way. I still wear my hair long, so that I can hide my face if I need to. And I still hate silence worse than anything.

When I had dinner last night with Kindergarten Friend, we got talking about our childhoods, our pasts, and she said, "Oh, yeah. I remember how shy you were." And she, because she has known me for so long, believes me when I say that sometimes a situation or just the right moment can still trigger those shy feelings, that paralysis that comes with fear. The moments don't come very often, but I don't think anyone ever completely overcomes shyness: when With-a-Why was little, and I'd see him freeze into silence when a grown-up talked to him, I knew just how he felt.

Really, I wasn't going to post any more lamb photos, but this one seemed to fit the post.

19 comments:

Nadine said...

I just got back from a fancy-pants work-related luncheon where I felt out of place and awkward without anyone to talk to. I don't care for meeting new people!

crazymumma said...

I know. I remember those feelings.

frog said...

More lamb photos is NOT a problem!

Teri said...

I love the lamb photos!! I keep coming back hoping for more...

zelda1 said...

I, too, love the lamb photos. I remember being shy and am still. I have this anxiety when I meet new people. I teach, so the beginning of the semester makes me a little nervous and that silence...I hate it. I don't think shyness ever leaves, I think we learn grownup ways to handle it.

Overeducated Twit said...

The feeling of shyness has never really gone away for me. I don't mingle at social events, and I really hate initiating a call to someone I don't know. Yet, somehow, I can speak in front of 23 strange new faces at the beginning of a new semester.

The lamb is a perfect image for this post.

Gawdess said...

people don't think I'm shy either but I can be.
Great lamb picture, it can be all lamb all the time as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

What did you say to With-a-Why? Was there anything anyone could do to help you? Because I have my own little lamb, much like the one in your picture, and she starts kindergarten in the Fall.

kathy a. said...

oh, anonymous. there is nothing we can say, except the usual loving things. every little lamb has to venture out herself.

i'm shy, too. one of my best strategies has been to do serious work, but the bulk of it behind scenes. the work is good, it builds my confidence, i've moved ahead to bigger or better things, etc. while i can stand in front of a room and fake it, starting to talk has never been very easy.

susan said...

These lamb photos have been just gorgeous.

I wouldn't have pegged you for a shy kid--what do you think moved you into more comfort with groups?

jo(e) said...

Yeah, people are always surprised when I say that I was very shy as a kid.

Anon: All four of my kids were shy when they were little. But because I was a shy kid myself, I guess I just saw that as the norm, and I fully expected them to outgrow the behavior. And so far, that seems to be the case. For example, my daughter was very shy when she was little, but by the time she graduated from high school, she was an exceptionally poised, self-confident, articulate adult.

I never did anything to push my kids to be less shy -- because I would have hated that when I was a kid. So when parents ask me what they can do to help their shy kids, I really don't have an answer.

I suppose it helps if they find things they are passionate about. With-a-Why, for example, overcame his shyness to take piano lessons because he loves music.

Academic said...

I'm glad you posted the lamb photo. It fits this post wonderfully.

Yankee, Transferred said...

No such thing as too many lambs.

concretegodmother said...

what yankee t said!

amy said...

My less shy these days almost-nine-year-old (in two more days) and I just read this post together. He said to tell you he felt the same way in kindergarten--and he really likes the lamb pictures.

Thank, jo(e), for writing about this.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Jo(e), you ARE giving an answer ... that there's no need or reason to do anything. Thank you. These days there seems to be no tolerance for kids who are out of some narrow band of the norm. Preschools refer to therapists at the drop of a hat, rather than recognizing normal spectrums of behavior. As a parent, on the one hand you don't want to miss something important, but on the other hand you want to say sheesh, give the kid a break. And some time.

Thank you, again.

YourFireAnt said...

I think that one of the best things you can instill in your child is that she/he is fine just the way she/he is. Nobody's going to change unless they think they're OK the way they are.

And, Jo(e), I'm not surprised to hear you say you were shy. I was too. And one of the things that helped me adjust (notice I didn't say "got me out of it"; sometimes I still AM shy.) was being interested in/passionate about something. E.g., poetry. Taking care of dogs. Practising yoga in a class.

Good post. And I love the lambs. Now will you get back to your real blog work, i.e., searching out people to persuade to shed their clothes for the camera?!!

FA

Cloudscome said...

I love all these lamb posts. Beautiful writing, as always. I am another one of those shy persons. Don't think I outgrew it, but learned some strategies to work it. Asking someone else about their family usually gets a conversation going if all else fails.

Karin said...

This is such a great post. I really get what you are saying as I was a shy kid, but there are still times when I feel incredibly shy as an adult. I hide it well, though. ;)