I am still told the stories of when I was little of how I would cling to my mother’s legs and bury my face whenever someone tried to talk to me. I was labeled as “painfully shy.”
I remember being in Kindergarten and covering my ears and putting my head on the desk because it was too loud and overwhelming for me. I didn’t have friends so I stayed to myself. I was going to school at a military base and kids were always coming and going; yet another reason to not make friends in my eyes because the ones I did have, always ended up moving.
As I grew, that didn’t change much. My father was in the Army and was stationed overseas for several tours.
We moved from the military base he was stationed at to the next town over when I was 7 and I had to start in a new school. I didn’t know a soul and being shy didn’t help that. Due to my insecurities and abandonment issues I started gaining weight. Children at that age were not very kind to children who are overweight. I was going to weight loss classes with my mother by the age of 8 or 9. My self-esteem plummeted further.
At the age of 13, I became interested in boys and the one I liked the most spent most of his time at the local rollerskating rink so that’s where I begged to be as often as possible. I had a few close friends by this time who were willing to go with me so my mother saw it as a good thing and let me go whenever I had someone to go with, in hopes I would overcome my shyness and meet new people.
My mother knew I was struggling and had always tried to help me but I needed to want to help myself. I started to notice how outgoing the kids at the rink were and wanted to be like them but had no idea how and I desperately wanted to gain the attention of this boy.
My mother gave me some very valuable advice that turned my life around. She said that if I followed these steps that I would be sure to make more friends and have no problem talking to this boy. Here’s what she said;
- Always keep your head up. Do not look at the ground unless you are afraid you might trip over something. Look several steps ahead of you.
- Whenever you pass someone, look them straight in the eyes, smile like you mean it and say hi. It’s okay if they don’t look back or respond. Don’t take it personally.
- Compliment people but be genuine. If you see something about them that you like, such as; their hair style, shoes, clothes, color of their eyes, tell them.
- Don’t worry about what other people think of you. Don’t listen when they tell you, unless it’s nice.
- Be kind to yourself. If you judge yourself harshly, you would judge others harshly and that’s no way to make friends.
- Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone. That’s how you get to know new people.
- Forgive easily, don’t hold a grudge or try to get even. If someone does something that you do not agree with, this rule doesn’t mean you have to remain friends with them, but it is important that you still forgive.
- Push yourself. Sometimes you will want to give up or not listen to this advice because you are embarrassed, feel insecure or don’t believe it will work. Instead, just push yourself to do it.
I took this advice but very slowly and it took a long time to incorporate all of it, but I did it. Eventually, the walls came down and I made many new friends. No one seemed to judge me. If they did, I didn’t notice. By the age of 15 I was working at that skating rink.
Are you ready for this? “Miss Painfully Shy” became a DJ at the same rink at the age of 16. Yes, me, talking on a microphone in front of hundreds of people almost every day of the week! I now have my own mobile DJ business.
I’ve had times in my life when I have dipped back into the shy person I once was but I don’t stay there long and sometimes it’s only for an hour or so. I have learned to love interacting with people.
I am so grateful for the advice my mother gave me all those years ago and I am so glad I decided to follow it.
(Oh, in case you’re wondering about that boy? We kissed once but really just remained great friends. To this day when I see him we still stop and talk. I hope if he reads this he doesn’t know it was about him. lol)
What is some really good advice you took from someone that changed your life for the better? Please don’t be embarrassed to share. We’re all friends here.
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