OPINION: Being shy isn’t necessarily a negative thing


What is the first thought that comes into your head when you hear the word ‘shy’? Is it something negative, like ‘introversion’, or ‘no friends’, or ‘loser who is destined for nothing great’? Maybe it’s all of the above. Societal norms have shaped us to believe that to be successful we must be social beings and bathe in the attention of others.

Being shy is considered a negative characteristic for two main reasons, according to M. Farouk Radwan, the founder of self-help website 2KnowMySelf. The first reason is its connection with self-inhibition. Shyness is deeply associated with issues of self-confidence, low self-esteem and inferiority. The general assumption that stems from this is that a shy person must be experiencing one of those things for them to be shy in the first place.

The second reason is the assumption that a shy person does not want to interact with other people. This assumption causes others who are not spoken to by introverted people to feel like they are disliked or being ignored by a shy person.  

Even though the aforementioned reasons for shyness are negative in nature, there are positive associations with shyness that exist in society. Shyness can, for example, allow us to really think about the things we do say to others rather than for us to become an unfiltered speaker, sputtering utter ‘truths’ and madness out of our mouths before we’ve fully considered their magnitude.

Shyness can also demonstrate your modesty in situations where your achievements are thrust into the limelight. When done moderately, that is, not eating away at your self-esteem, shyness can show others how gracious and humble you are as a person.

Being shy can also give you a calming effect. The ability to be relaxed and non-extreme in your reactions to stimuli is very much desired by other people, and may even have a positive impact on them.

So don’t try to conform to this ‘quirky’, ‘extroverted’ culture that we hear so much of in this day and age. Being introverted and shy is not a type of behaviour to be looked down upon. There are so many good qualities of shyness, and it should be preserved, not suffocated and changed.



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