Have you spent your life tackling shyness? According to the BBC’s television programme ‘Stand up to Shyness‘ aired a few days ago, nearly half the population in the UK have some manifestation of shyness. Experts even suggest that everyone has a degree of shyness and that this is a good thing. For some, their shyness is an irritation. However, for others, it is a condition that prevents them living a full and rewarding life.
Standing up in front of 20,00 people and making them laugh is something Rhod Gilbert, the programme’s presenter, takes in his stride. However, Rhod finds it extremely difficult to go into a cafe and enjoy the simple pleasure, that many of us take for granted, of drinking a cup of coffee. I bet that like Rhod’s friends, you probably wouldn’t think that I too am shy. I love an audience, although I’ve never had one as large as Rhod’s! I’m happy filming, love meeting you at shows and thoroughly enjoy going into coffee shops. There are, however, certain situations that I really struggle with.
Being a shy child, of course, has drawbacks in modern western society. However, I would also argue that there is a flip side to the shyness coin. According to my mother, I spent my first year in school not speaking to anyone, I was just too shy to talk! I don’t remember this at all. What I do remember is that I always knew what was going on, I watched, listened and learnt! Over time I made friends and got involved, but my shyness has always been there in the background.
Imagine what it feels like to sit in a classroom when you think you know the answer to a question but there is absolutely no way you can put up your hand. I have a lasting memory of this happening to me. I was in a physics class, no one else seemed to know the answer and although I discovered later that I did, I was too shy to risk answering incorrectly in front of the whole class. Sound familiar?
In the BBC programme, Rhod and the people he interviewed talked out comfort zones and the huge problems that shy people have stepping outside these into the unknown. In the cake decorating and the small business worlds, I have my colourful comfort blanket on. Here the only limits are my imagination, I feel confident, secure, knowledgeable, with the world at my fingertips. Strip that blanket away and I’m left wanting to do things, yet unable to make the first move. Is this the same for you as well?
Two tips for tackling shyness
Rhod’s tip was for shy people to try standup comedy, undoubtedly this isn’t the answer for everyone! Another seemly simple solution is to ‘go with a friend‘. I certainly know people who never go anywhere by themselves, they are just ‘too shy ‘. I also know students who come to my classes solely to help support their shy friend’s passion for cake decorating. To the non-shy person, this solution sounds easy, to the shy it can still take a lot of guts and gumption.
When I moved to Shropshire four years ago I was keen to keep active. A friend I made early on suggested I join the dance class she attended – great idea! However, it took me a further six months or so to gather enough momentum and courage to take the leap and actually go to my first class. I loved that class and have been going ever since, but the first steps took a lot of effort.
Too shy to…Join a class?
I’m acutely aware that for some it is a tremendous struggle to attend a class, even if it’s one you really wish to join. I know this from my own experiences. Here’s another example. Joining a yoga class was something I ‘d been wanting to do for some time. I’d practised yoga in the past, so knew the benefits. However, finding a new teacher in a new location was daunting. Eventually, I managed to obtain a recommendation from someone I trusted, pluck up the courage needed to contact the teacher and join her class. I am so pleased I did, it’s made me feel so much better both physically and emotionally.
If yoga isn’t your thing, how about cake decorating? If you are unsure if cake decorating is for you, take a look at my ‘Happiness and the therapeutic power of cake decorating‘ post, it might just persuade you. You can learn much about cake decorating from online videos and Craftsy classes are a great resource.
However, I would encourage you to join a hands-on class. Yes, if you are shy it might take a supreme effort, but there is nothing quite like joining a class with others for giving you the confidence to continue. Trust me I know.
Tackling shyness using cake decorating
Here at Lindy’s Cakes, I run both regularly scheduled classes for small groups as well as private classes. Remember, if you are shy I understand what you are going through. I do my utmost to put you at your ease, make you feel welcome and give you the opportunity to relax and excel. Being shy is challenging but tackling shyness and conquering it, in one way or another, is liberating.
If you’d like to add your own experiences of tackling shyness, please feel free to comment in the box below.
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