When I was a little girl, I was terribly shy. Talking to most people was a physical impossibility for me – I’d rather hide behind a tree than have to speak to my friend’s parents as they opened their door. I was perfectly content burying myself in library books, finding great adventures through someone else’s life stories.
It was amazing to me, as I started my teaching career, that I could actually stand in front of people – children and adults – and actually say something that people wanted to hear. I still have those moments, honestly, when I look out at my classroom in amazement that every eye is on me. Kind of makes me shudder sometimes.
Contrary to many childhood lessons, being shy is not a disability. There are benefits, of course, but it takes a great deal of self-reflection to discover them. Shyness means that one can step back, observe situations, and hopefully think before speaking. Being shy is a great quality for people watching – one of my favorite hobbies. And of course, being shy allows us to create our own thoughts and opinions without having to share them with anyone else – which would create an opportunity for making a mistake.
First-born children, like me, are somehow inbred to be perfect. Just ask my sister, who came only 13 months behind me. No matter what I did, it was always subject to great scrutiny as the ‘golden child’. That’s a mighty high reputation to uphold, for sure.
Living life as a shy, first born of first-borns created an inner determination to break the cycle with my own first-born. Wanting so desperately for my daughter to have her own voice, however, was really what allowed me to find my own.
Suddenly I couldn’t hide anymore-I was someone’s mom. I needed to be the one to speak, teach, and nurture the little voice I had created. At times, her ‘voice’ nearly deafened me in those early days, but as she grew, we blossomed together. We both learned to ask for what we wanted, demand what we needed, and express our feelings and beliefs clearly.
So last summer when I let loose this blog, my voice was born. Surely, it was shaky at best, but it stumbled out of me and landed firmly on the page and kept tumbling and somersaulting and back flipping until before I knew it, I was a writer. Thousands of others, some as introverted as I, were hearing my voice.
Over the last 365 days, I’ve learned to trust it, listen to it, and share it. I’ve learned to pause, ponder and pour it out onto the page. I’ve learned to watch and heed the commentary it produces, to observe the emotions it creates, and to suspend that inner critic who cautions me that I’m treading on the brink of disaster.
Now that I have a little girl, I’m not so shy. Talking to most people is not a physical impossibility anymore – as long as I can let my fingers do it for me.