Gregory - Fear of Rejection

Dear Shykids Hi, I am 15 and extremely shy. The problem mainly occurs in school, more  specifically with a large number of people present. Anywhere else (home, movies, mall,) I can be myself and not shy. My shyness seems to be a combination of: fear of rejection, such as what if  I don' t say the right thing? and a huge intimidation factor. I feel that this person is better than me and ask myself: why would they want to talk to me? 
Joining in on group conversations with friends is also very hard. No matter what I say to myself, when it comes to those social situations i either don't  talk or avoid them completely. I would very much like to overcome this 
problem but just do not know how. Gregory

Dear Gregory, Sorry to hear you're having a tough time of it in school. It sounds like you're not really shy to the bone, but rather intimidated by large groups. First, understand that lots of people have this fear and you are not alone. 

There are some things to consider :
1. Some people simply feel at ease in any social situation and are not easily embarrassed if they say something someone might laugh at. You might notice that these people usually join right in and laugh at themselves as well. These people understand that at some point, all of us behave like a dope or say something ridiculous, but the world doesn't stop rotating 'cause somebody says something dumb.

2. The next time you're in a group, listen - really listen to what everyone is saying. Any rocket scientists in the group? Not likely. What are they saying that is more intelligent, insightful, humorous than what you would say? Answer probably is - nothing.

3. Sometimes the easiest way to break into or open up a conversation is by asking questions. If you're in a large group or in a class discussion, think of something you'd like to know about the subject (whether that be person, place, or thing) and ask the people in the group. This way you're not immediately putting yourself on the line, but you've broken the ice by actually speaking up. 

4. Consider joining outside activities that would help you learn to speak up. Does your school or someplace in your community offer public speaking classes? If so, we urge you to take them. Granted, you won't be speaking to your friends in front of a podium, but success in a class like this is a great confidence booster. Is there anything you are particularly interested in - such as art, soccer, chess, baseball, tennis, etc...that you can pursue? Getting involved in an activity that you are passionate about leads to much easier conversations. And, you'll likely be in with a group of people who share that passion.

5. Is there something in your school or community that needs to be done? Is there a senior citizen's center in your community? Does your local church need a facelift? Is there a day care center that needs extra set of hands? Give some thought to needs other than your own and see if you can fill those needs. Speaking to a group in an "atmosphere of volunteerism" becomes much easier because you know that you are needed and respected for your good works. Better yet, is there a need that can be filled that requires you to enlist the services of many more teens? Head it up, organize it and gain incredible confidence. You will have a very specific reason to talk to other teens, enlist their help and find an wonderful base for group conversation.

6. Accept the fact that this will not be easy. You cannot take out your seams and remake yourself. But, with some effort, you can slowly open up in  group situations. And the next time you ask yourself  "why would that person want to talk to me?" try to remember that most people want to make friends and hang out and have a good time. Most people don't want to judge you or make you feel bad. You will run into people like that - and then you can decide to leave those people behind. You will never be embarrassed or hurt if you don't speak up in a group. However, you will never know the joy of feeling part of something bigger than you, to join in on the fun of teasing your friends or having them tease you or gaining the confidence that comes from people looking at you and listening to what you have to say.

7. Start today. Ask one question, join one class, volunteer. You make the choice - you deserve to be happy.

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