On Being Shy

I remember the first time I was aware of the fact that I was blushing. Junior year of high school, I was the defense attorney for Daisy Buchanan in a mock trial we put on after reading The Great Gatsby. 

I’m a writer. All this means is that I am far, far more comfortable expressing myself and getting my point across through words than I am through speech. Our roles were assigned by slips of paper we picked out from a bowl, so my being the defense counsel did not come about through some great oversight on my teacher’s part, it’s just the way it happened. I was doing wonderfully, asking the right questions, getting the correct answers, but I got confused asking Daisy something. I have no idea what the question was, but I paused to make sure I wasn’t ruining my argument…and I could not for the life of me get my mind to continue working. I lost my train of thought, and I stood there, staring down at my paper, willing my mind to restart. It didn’t, and I became very uncomfortably aware of the meaning of two phrases: ‘sweating in panic’, and ‘turning red.’ 

Amazingly, as shy as I was and/or am, I’d never experienced either of those emotions before. The more time went by the more panicked I became and the less my mind would cooperate. I broke out sweating and turned bright, bright red. 

I thought I had outgrown my shyness in the years since school and the early (who am I kidding? mid-late!) years of college, but it’s still there, hidden underneath, and it comes out more and more often now. I may not want to make my career being a teacher, but it has done for me and my confidence what nothing else could have. 

I was breaking out of my shell midway through college, and even in the early years of college with some groups, mainly people I met in class, but I really and truly am confident now of who I am in social gatherings. Alhamdulillah. I’m shy, but I have a lot of really interesting things to share and I enjoy sharing them. Family, immediate and extended, sit and stare at who I turn out to be in social gatherings. 

Anyways, my point is that even underneath all that, I’m still very shy and I find myself blushing more and more now. I’m brown, so half the time the person I’m talking to won’t even notice that I’m embarassed, self conscious, or uncomfortable. This is positive in some ways, but I wish my blushing was more apparent, at least then they’d be able to understand why I’m suddenly quiet and don’t have an immediate response to give them.

Someone I know started talking to me about marriage the other day and whether I was interested in anyone. An uncomfortable subject to begin with, but then he began mentioning mutual friends, asking if I would be interested in any of them. Supremely embarassed, bright red underneath my brown skin, I gave a handful of non-commital answers and tried to end the conversation. He took that as me not being serious. 

First of all, I’m not going to tell you if I’m interested in a mutual friend. Second of all, this was completely and totally out of the blue; I wasn’t prepared and I honestly don’t know what answer I could give to “are you interested in person x” if person x is your friend even if I had been prepared.

I’m shy. I can’t do much about that. I’ve done pretty much everything I could; I am now not-shy on the surface, but that’s as far as it’s going to go because I am a naturally shy person. Shyness is a virtue and I’m not going to apologize for who I am. But don’t take this trait of mine and use it to your advantage. Don’t misunderstand when I don’t answer or when I avoid eye-contact. I’m shy. I get very uncomfortable when someone pays me a compliment and I’ve honestly never learned how to accept one. Don’t take that as rudeness, please. And don’t bring up uncomfortable topics and think I’m not taking my life seriously if I give you short answers. I  am interested in someone. He lives in Austin, and the way I know him is almost comical: I don’t. Not really. I met him once and I would like to get to know him better but I don’t know how. 

At social gatherings, it’s always the other girls who get asked for their numbers, not me, because I’m shy. I don’t know how to approach you if I’m attracted to you, I’m shy. Is that making sense? 

Why would I tell you that I’m interested in this person? I don’t know him. I know how ludicrous it would sound. I would sound like I’m 13. But I’m not, I’m just shy.

So, yes, I do want to get married eventually, insha’Allah. I just don’t want to discuss it with you.