Shy vs. Scared

This weekend, after visiting my friend and her new baby girl, I was thinking a lot about things. My friend was talking to me, and she said two things that just had me reflecting on my actions and motives of late.

The first thing she said was, “You’re talking about what he wants, what they want, what others want. What about what you want?”

The second was, “You’re not shy. You’re just scared.

So the former caught me off guard. And the latter had me reeling.

What do I want, I thought to myself long after I’d left my friend’s house.

I think I’ve always had this perception that it doesn’t really matter what I want because if everyone else is happy, then I’m happy. I don’t like confrontation, so I listen to what other people want and just obey orders to keep the peace. I’ve always thought that was the best way to deal with things.

I’ve always thought that what other people want for me is the best. And yes, they are looking out for my best interests, protecting me in whatever way they can, but is it really for the best?

It occurred to me that I’ve probably been using that as an excuse so I don’t have to make my own decisions. So that if I become unhappy or feel like I’ve messed it up, I can have someone else to blame for wanting me to choose their way instead of my own. Because if I were to decide something on my own and find out later that I’d made a mistake, it would be my own fault.

But reflecting on that, even though I’ve chosen to make other people happy by doing what they want, it’s still my own fault because it was my decision to take that path. I know that’s kind of a weird roundabout way of thinking about it, but it kind of makes sense in the convoluted place that is called my brain.

So onto the second thing she said to me. “You’re not shy. You’re just scared.”

This was after we were talking about how some people think and will always think I’m shy. This is an issue I’ve always had to deal with. Yes, I have been shy in the past. No, I don’t consider myself to be shy anymore.

My mom also had a point when I was angry one day that people are always stereotyping me for being shy. She said, “So prove to them you’re not.”

What’s stopping me from proving them wrong though?

I think it’s because I secretly hide behind this perception of myself. It’s safe to be shy and to have other people perceive me as such. I make it my excuse so that if I don’t do something where I’m required to put myself out there, I can always just blame it on shyness. I can blame people for believing I’m shy.

My friend’s right though. She won’t let me get away with that excuse because she knows me too well. She knows I’m not really shy and that what it all comes down to is fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear that when all is said and done, life will never be safe again. And worse yet when one’s heart is on the line.

I guess the question that remains is—how do I conquer that fear?

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