Shy to a Fault

All my life, I have been shy to a fault.

People don’t realize it; when I share it in workshops or in places where I speak, people literally laugh and say they don’t believe me. I am so animated when I speak or present, it’s hard for people to believe that when I am done, I crawl into a shell.

I have always done it.

While there is nothing wrong with being shy, I write this to ask any of you who are shy not to let it compromise your life and your possibilities, as I have.

I have not made friends with people as a rule. I have not fostered and cultivated professional relationships. I have not mingled with people of my profession much, getting to know them, and allowing them to know me.

For the years I was a pastor, I basically went to church, did my “church work,” and go home. Oh…I did raise my children, and did quite well at that, I am pleased to say. But I did not build relationships. I did not diversify the palette of my life.

My therapist ( yes, I see one regularly) said that I made my world too small. Isn’t that a wonderful description of what being shy does?

Where in the world does the shyness come from? Is saying I am shy another way of saying I am insecure, or not confident?

I can remember once I went somewhere to preach. I got there early, with a friend, and was led into a roomful of women I didn’t know. I looked around, and the woman was whisking my friend to another area of the building. I wanted to die! There were all these women whom I did not know. They were well-dressed and articulate …and it felt like their heads were blowing up into huge balloons right in front of me; it felt like the balloons were coming toward me! I could not run out. I told myself that …and so I made myself walk to the balloons and, in talking, was able to stick a pin in them so that the big heads shrunk down to normal. I found that I could talk with these women; I found out that I had much to say and that they listened, but I will never forget the terror of those few moments.

Since then, I have been practicing not being shy. Some people from my former church would see me in a crowd, “working the  room,” and would encourage me. That meant a lot. Someone knew I knew this particular weakness of mine, and saw that I was trying to meet it … and, in effect, beat it.

But the bottom line is that I have hurt my life and my career by being so shy. I told/taught my children not to be like me, and thank God, they have listened. I have gone to the best schools, but didn’t connect with people. They, too, have gone to the best schools and have connected with people, have good friends all over the country, and are nurturing the relationships they have made even as they make new connections.

I told you I raised my children well.

I write this because this morning I wept for a few moments as I dealt with seeing myself “face to face.” Sometimes, I like what I see. This morning, I did not.

But the little weeping spell is over. I decided to write because someone else, a young person with lots of gifts and talent, is hiding under a bushel somewhere.

Please come out. The world needs you.

A candid observation …

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Comments

  1. As one shy person to another, thank you. That was a beautiful reflection, particularly the part about making one’s world too small.

  2. I love your writing. This is one of many well written insightful and powerful candid observations. This took a lot of courage because the majority of people, most of the time, are reluctant to share their struggles unless they are writing a self help book.
    I have heard your sermons and I never would have thought you were shy! I am one of the many people who have said to you…”I don’t believe your shy!”
    I saw an example of your shyness after your sermon at Service last Sunday. I wanted to tell you how your Sermon challenged me to go deeper in God….but before I could you were moving down the hall so fast I thought there was a fire! I thought to myself, okay, yes Pastor is shy!
    I’m writing to encourage you!! You are a brilliant intelligent powerful woman of God! This will be one of many Crazy Faith moments as God gives you the courage to conquer shyness!! When you write the second edition of Crazy Faith, here is a thought for Chapter 1….”No More Balloons”….Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith. That sounds good to me!! What do you think?
    Your candid observation is going to bless others like it has blessed me! Be encouraged!! God will give you the victory!! It won’t be long before you will be saying….”Who you calling shy? Oh no your not talking about me!” Keeping you in prayer.

  3. Caroline says:

    I’m shy too, but I’m thankful that I’ve had a mother who has instilled that lesson in me that you must not live in a shell. And, though you’ve been shy for many many years, it’s never too late to make a positive change in your life. And I think you’re beginning to see just how wonderful that change can be.

  4. candidobservation says:

    You are the best…

  5. Wow, Rev. Sue your story sounds painfully familiar. Having met you years ago at Advent UCC, I would have never guessed you were shy. Thank you for sharing your story. I am also very shy and have to force myself to make connections.

    • candidobservation says:

      Thanks, Bernice, for sharing!!! Happy New Year! And …my shyness …it’s a bear! Many people find it hard to believe I am shy!

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