Katie - General Question
Hi, I am 15 years old and I don't understand myself. I am loud around my
family and close friends. I'm even talkative to strangers. But in school I am
shy. I'm just can't be loud and obnoxious like most people my age in school.
I don't know why I'm shy I really don't have a reason to be, people say I'm
pretty, nice, smart, how I dress nice and how fit I am. I try very hard to be
more talkative in school, I just don't know what else to do. I have a crush on someone and it's hard for me to talk to him, I get
nervous and don't act like myself. I had a couple of conversations with him
but I need to talk more with him. I just don't how to do it. I was so mad at
myself, I went to a guy friend's house and he was there and I barely talked
to him the whole time I was there. I was just so nervous. I think he might
like me back and I heard that he thinks I'm pretty I just need to talk to him
I have most of those symptoms (mentioned in your website) of a shy person. I hate it when I stutter when I'm talking to new people. I get
frustrated with myself. I also have a problem with always worrying about
what people think about me. Another thing that bothers me about myself is how
I turn red when I get embarrassed. Then I feel that my face is red and I get
even more embarrassed and more red. I don't know if being shy is in my genes
or is it something I can change? I do have family members that are shy or
used to be shy and then they grew out of it. I feel I'm getting less shy as
I'm getting older and maturing. I just don't want to be shy anymore. I'm sick
of it! And I also hate it when people tell me that I'm shy or ask me why I
am. I don't want to be!!!!!!! What advice do you have for me? Thank you for listening and caring!
P.S Your website is great.
Dear Katie, Many people feel totally comfortable at home and ill at ease with peers. Many, in fact, act just as you do - loud and boisterous at home and uncomfortably tongue-tied at school. When parents and siblings are loving and accepting, it's easy to feel free and easy. There is nothing to lose - they'll always love you.
Friendships at school are sometimes difficult to understand, they may not always be long lasting and many feel that
judgments about hair, clothes, behavior, cliques, etc.. are ongoing and occur each day. To some extent, this is true. In high school, teens are trying out who they want to be, what they're interested in and who they want to hang out with. This kind of environment can be unsettling for a shy teen. When feeling self-conscious, many teens begin to stutter, turn red, and are often unable to speak.
Yes, maturity does often solve the problem. As you said, you find that it is subsiding as you get older.
There are things you can try to speed up the process and feel more at home in your own skin right now.
You mentioned that "people say that you are pretty, nice, smart, etc..." That's a great start. Now you have to start believing that this is true and stop
caring so much about what other people think of you. The fact is that not everyone in school will be your friend. What you probably do want are friends who like you for YOU and the only way they can do that is if they know who you are.
To become more outgoing and feel less self-conscious takes practice. Here are some things you may want to try:
1. When you
are talking to the girl at the next desk, or the boy you really like,
you might start immediately worrying if your hair is messed up, if your
jeans aren't quite right, if you're going to say the wrong thing. These
feelings are probably more intense when you're talking to that boy. When
this happens, make a real effort to just STOP. Turn off all the thoughts
about yourself, your appearance. It's not going to work the first time,
but little by little, you'll see improvement. Rather than focus on you,
focus on the person you're talking to. Concentrate on what they're
saying, think about what they're saying, so that rather than responding
with a shrug, you can respond with a real answer - an opinion, an
answer, a comment...
2. Remind yourself that you owe it to your friends to be
yourself. They reveal to you who they are. While it is frightening to
have relationships where you put yourself and who you are on the line,
the alternative is having relationships that aren't as full as they
could be. Remember that as a teenager, you will be changing a great deal
in the next few years - your opinions, tastes, likes and dislikes may
change considerably. That's really okay.
3. Try not to be so afraid to offend people with your comments or
opinions. As long as you're not really rude or mean spirited, remind
yourself that you have the right to be different, to think differently
than your friends..
4. You certainly don't need to be as loud or obnoxious as many of
the other people your age in school. Perhaps, you just have better
judgment than they do. If you find their behavior offensive, simply
don't hang out with these people. Don't allow your "shyness
label" to convince you that they're okay and there's something
wrong with you. Seek out those with whom you have the most in common.
5. Don't give up. Keep the things we've mentioned in mind. Remind
yourself before you go off to school each morning about the one thing
that you're going to work on that day.. Look at yourself in the mirror
in the morning and promise yourself that you won't think about how you
look again until, let's say, lunchtime. Or promise yourself that the
next time you see that boy you like, you're going to give him an
incredible gift - a conversation with the real you.
Good luck and write back if you feel you need more information or just
to let us know how you're doing.