Overcoming shyness

Sad teen girl feeling shy and left out by friends
Photo: © Daisydaisy / 123RF Stock Photo

Shyness is felt as a mix of emotions, including fear and interest, tension and pleasantness. It affects how you feel and behave when you are with others. It can mean feeling uncomfortable, self-conscious, nervous, bashful, timid or insecure. When you feel shy you may sometimes also experience physical sensations like blushing, feeling speechless, breathless and shaky. Shyness is opposite of being at ease. When you feel shy you might hesitate to say or do something because you feel unsure of yourself and you are not ready to be noticed.

If you were shy when you were younger, the pressures of adolescence may make you withdraw even more. Even if you were a confident, outgoing, gregarious and jolly child, always surrounded by friends, you may now find yourself blushing, stammering and unable to look at anybody in the eyes, and even without friends.

There are several factors responsible for this change in teens. Weighing on your mind are such issues like physical and emotional changes, school grades, response to members of the opposite sex and the big question of what you are going to do with your life.

The sudden self-consciousness you experience is the result of what experts call, “imaginary audience”. You feel as though everyone is watching you. That makes you acutely aware of your actions, expressions and appearance. You just withdraw to allow yourself to think about all the things that are happening to you, from school performance and academic expectations, peer pressure to relationships.

Teens who rate themselves as shy tend to like themselves less, consider themselves less friendly and more passive than their non-shy peers. Shy teens are often judged by peers to be less friendly and likeable than non-shy people. For all these reasons, shy teens may be ignored by peers and have less chances of developing social skills.

This is generally a passing phase when you might want to lock yourself in your room away from people. You might become extremely anxious about making new friends or participating in new activities — anything that puts you in the spotlight.

Teenage shyness is temporary. Teens who have always been shy might struggle a bit more, but with support from family, you will probably come through this period and grow into a strong and confident person.

When you were a kid you made friends by chance. You hooked on to someone your age or who lived next door or who attended the same school. As a teen, however, you are more discerning and choosey about friendships. Finding someone and getting close to her/him takes time. You may have discovered that you sometimes don’t have much in common with the group you hang out with. You may need to figure out where you fit in and what kind of friends you really want. Many teens go through school with just a small group of friends or pursue solo activities like reading, music and art. So long as you are happy, popularity isn’t really important.

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Gratian Vas
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Gratian Vas

Gratian Vas is a former teacher, headmaster, principal and resource person for educational institutions. In a career spanning 50 years, he has written over 150 educational and general books for young readers.