For most of my life I have been shy and socially anxious. I admit, I still am, although I have learned quite a bit about my fears and quirks and I know that I am not alone in having these problems. Shyness and social anxiety used to hold me back from doing things I really wanted to do – and I used to make excuses for myself, like, “I can’t join that club because I’m shy. I’ll sit there quiet and have nothing to contribute to the conversation” or “I’m not going to make that phone call because the words won’t come out of my mouth right and I’ll end up sounding like a fool.”
Lately I’ve stopped making excuses and using my shyness as a crutch. I’ve learned that the only way to defeat shyness/social anxiety is to power through it. Ignore it. Pretend it isn’t there. Learn about it. Read about it. There are others who feel the same way you do. You’re not alone. If you’re feeling like you can’t do something or you shouldn’t do something because you’re shy, then that’s usually a good sign that you ought to do it anyway.
When I was a kid, I thought that when I turned 18 or 21, I’d become an “adult” and all my shyness would simply melt away. Alas, that never happened. I thought it was a permanent flaw in my personality that I was that way – almost like it was a kind of mental handicap. But now I refuse to limit myself because of it. If I have to make a phone call, I make it, even though I’m anxious that I’ll sound like an idiot. I have to tell myself that nobody really cares all that much about how I sound or look or act. People, by and large, are primarily concerned with themselves. Nobody’s going to remember all the times you thought you acted awkward or shy.
Basically, shyness and social anxiety are issues that have to be continually worked on. That’s the only way they can ever disappear (or lessen in intensity). There’s no magic pill that will destroy them and there won’t be a magical day when you wake up and discover that they’ve disappeared. Like most worthwhile things in life, destroying your own inhibitions takes a lot of time, effort, and perseverance. So don’t make excuses. Don’t use those things as a crutch. Use them as an excuse to make yourself a stronger person.