What exactly causes it. When I was younger I would say I was shy. I mean I would literally walk completely around the block the other way then say “Hello” to a neighbor.

But then one day at 16 I was in school and I wanted to talk to this girl but I was nervous and then I said to myself “this is just dumb go over and say hi.” Which I did and I have never had a problem since.

Where does shyness come from and how come I was able to get over it seemingly just like that.

I used to be pretty shy. I don’t really know why- was I not comfortable around people because I had fewer friends, or did I have fewer friends because I wasn’t comfortable around people? I’ll just say it seems to become easier to interact with people the more you do it. I’ve opened up more since I reached the high school. I probably wouldn’t call myself shy anymore, but my conversational skills aren’t so hot: I’m not too terribly interesting, which doesn’t really help much, especially when trying to meet girls. :slight_smile: Just a typical teenage complaint. But yeah, in general, the more you talk to and interact with people, the easier it gets.


“. . .they could as easily have been carrying euphoniums and wearing war paint for all the notice their quarry would have taken of them.”
-Douglas Adams, “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Q) Could it be attributed to the “fight or flee” instinct?

Terence in Marietta, GA

Be someone’s hero

I think it’s very interesting that you haven’t had more replies. I think a lot of people don’t even like to admit that they are/were shy. And I think that being labelled as shy (by others) makes it worse. Shyness is an extreme self-consciousness, and when my mother or someone else said “oh she’s just shy,” I’d cringe because I didn’t want to be, and this put the spotlight on me. I’d say you’re born with it, and that parents and life experiences make it better or worse. When I was a kid, I had no trouble around kids my age, but did around adults. When my family moved from the city to the suburbs, it was a traumatic experience for me – new school, kids, everything was new, and my shyness became worse. I didn’t even try to deal with it until I was an adult - read self-help books, forced myself to focus on others, speak up, etc. I think parents and others can help by NOT focusing on it, but instead trying to get the shy one involved in other people and activities. Not sure if I consider myself shy now – I guess “introvert” would be a better term. I socialize and have friends, get along fine with co-workers; sometimes, I can be gregarious, but sometimes I don’t want to be around people, and I do fine when I’m by myself.

Didn’t reply earlier because… well… it’s just that… y’know… ::::flushing::::

ok… naaaah… maybe later.

When I was a child, my mom says I was extremely shy. So shy I would go to my room to hide when someone came over. My mom says that i started getting over it in Kindergarten because this teacher I had helped me to be able to say something during class (I was that shy, I wouldn’t talk). Anyway I have come out of my shell. I think in HS I really stopped being shy. For me it was a gradual process, not something that happened over night.

Now, in college I am not at all shy to meet new people. I dont like big parties (It’s a space issue, and ALL of the parties on campus are 200+ people…), but I enjoy the parties my friends and I throw. So, I wouldn’t say I am shy anymore. But i do get a little nervous meeting people (at social events mostly, in class its not so bad).

Once i get to know people I am not shy or nervous around them. I really do open up once I know someone (then again it’s like that with most everyone in my classes :)).

Many only children start out shy. I must have been quite shy, but I can’t remember it being that much a problem. But it does develop your personality. You don’t become the life of the party attention seeking type. No problem, really. We can’t all be that. Who will listen, then?
I did have more trouble in my teenage, due to limited English skills for a few years.But I don’t look back on that as a problem, other than a few few embarrassing situations in school.

I’m very shy in some settings and very outgoing in others. Thorough self-examination led me to the following conclusion: If I know what people expect of me I am comfortable with meeting them, talking to them, even entertaining them; if I don’t know what’s expected (How do I hold my fork? I remember them, do they remember me?) then I am practically paralyzed.

So for me, at least, shyness is an indication that I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I guess that’s consistent with little children being shy and getting over it as they mature.

BTW, if I remember that’s why I’m being shy I can usually convince myself that the proper thing to do in that situation is to admit my ingorance – and the shyness goes away.


“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Well, Pluto says it all with “diffidence.”

It’s all about confidence. But confidence is relative. I believe confidence is inversely proportional to intelligence. The more you know, the more you fear, and more the less confident you are.

Of course, there are few who derive their confidence from the physical, i.e. “if I can’t win the argument, then I can always resort to physical force.” This is one aspect of confidence. Sometimes, I wish I was dumb enough to use it.

Another aspect of confidence is mental force, the ability to ridicule people with impunity. I was never a “smooth talker” and whenever I met up with someone who was, I could never seem to get a word in edgewise, so I would just disengage.

Most of my shyness is, I believe, the unwillingness to dispute. I, for some reason, can’t summon the energy to fight. But I do have the energy, I just don’t know what I’m saving it for.

This is well known in bars with the statement: “Don’t ever pick on the quiet guy.”

I do not like to be shy. I am always trying to improve myself. I often try to rid myself of my fears, but it is not easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the ability to exhibit extreme confidence. But it takes so much energy for me. I’ve bluffed my way through many tangles, although I was very scared. I envy people who make it seem so natural.

OK, I’ve probably lurked on this topic long enough. I would say that I’m certainly selectively shy. I don’t have any problems with men or women who are older, attached or are a decade younger than I, but get a single woman my age near me and watch me obtain a serious case of shyness (gee, wondeer why I’m still single). Don’t get me wrong, when I was in high school and college this wasn’t to big of a problem because I had the time to develop an ease around individual women. Now that I’m working full time, on a family farm (that sort of automatically rules out dating co-workers, at least in NY state) my ability to develop an ease with individual women over a period of time has gone down.

beeruser- smoothtalkers may be scared too- fear is invisible- they may just hide their symptoms of fear better than others.

I think shyness is the fear of the unknown.
a: you don’t know the person.
b: you don’t know how the person will react.
c: you don’t know what the person will think about you (it’s the future, and therefore unknown)
d: you don’t know what the person thinks about you now, and maybe you don’t want to know (it could be bad) and see point b:

Fear of the unknown, maybe.

I gave an example without a point above so…
I would call shyness an irrational lack of self-confidence in a certain social situation. I have never had an experience when dating or when asking a woman out where I have felt that I should stop doing so because of rejection (they’ve always been nice about saying no) or because of a bad date (I’ve never had a date that’s gone horribly awry). The reason that I would say it’s an irrational lack of self-confidence is that I can’t trace it back to any specific instance. I think to some extent some, or most, of us are born shy and in most instances we outgrow it. Fear is probably a component of it, but fear is usually based on an experience and I can’t remember an experience that would explain my shyness.

Shyness is a curse.
The bane of lonely people the world over.
Shyness is the old woman at the end of the block who never emerges. It is the boy the neighborhood children taunt. It is the girl who sits at home on prom night.

Shyness sucks the big one.

***Sycorax: {{I think it’s very interesting that you haven’t had more replies. I think a lot of people don’t even like to admit that they are/were shy. And I think that being labelled as shy (by others) makes it worse.}}

You sure nailed me with that statement. The first time I came across this thread I went in…but didn’t post. Because you’re right–I am extremely shy, and I hate to admit it. It’s embarrassing, especially as old as I am (35)–I’d rather people just thought I was cold and unfriendly. A good way to end up lonely, I guess, but you can only do what you can do.

“Just go up and talk to her–what’s the worst that can happen? Well…she might not want to talk to me. Or…she might laugh at me…and tell all her friends so THEY laugh at me…and they’ll tell everyone. Maybe I better not…maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

Wonko sure nailed it, didn’t he!

Co-workers have always considered me an extrovert - I’m confident and resonably poised in just about any business situation.

I love public speaking!

I enjoy being around friends and acquaintances.

But put me in a large social gathering, or any social gathering where most of the people are strangers and I’m a wallflower. Probably for the exact reasons itemized by Wonko.

I think it has to do with lack of control. If I’m speaking to a group of strangers, my internal premise is that I’m the expert on my topic so I’m comfortable. Anyone who comes to talk to me later does so on purpose. Walking into a party (spouse’s business/social events, for example) where I’m not known is another issue altogether.

Let’s face it. We’re all in the same boat to some degree. It is nice, though, to get reassurance that others have the same problems.

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I don tknow what you would call it…neurosis maybe. Selective shyness maybe…but I amnot selecting anything. I can get up on a stage and thrash around and sing and yell and not be afraid. I can act in aplay as a character i ahte…and do it well. BUT If theres say…a particular Female i would simply like to meet or talk to…and i have no real excuse to be speaking to her…I wont. I will just suffer there in the corner.
Sure i have been told “just do it man!..walkup and SAY something” BUt 99.9% of the time i am a total blank…and paralyzed with horror.Some of us really do not take rejection well…even if she was polite I think that is worse. Some people are good actors…I would fret over why why why it happened. <i lve to ask why thats WHY i read these Columns duh> I thnk thats what i actually fear a polite brushing off. the condescending You’re-a-great-guy-but-not-that-great turn down. But then on the other hand…if i dont really give a rip what the peope thnk…i can become such a character at a gathering cracking jokes and literally entertaining.and i suppose this would attract more attention…me being myself. Its the surest way to tell those that ARE like you that “Hey there you are”
Often i wonder if that girl i am staring at from the corner is thining the same thing about me. So Am i a coward or what? id realy like some input on this.