I was 15 years old, had a mouth full of braces, and was desperately shy and awkward. Our whole family was involved in the AWANA program at our church and I had just started attending the high school program.
The first week came and I sat by myself. I walked to game time by myself. I left by myself. The next week, the same thing happened. This went on for several months.
I hated going.
I hated feeling shy and uncomfortable. I hated not having any friends and feeling desperately alone.
After several more weeks, I thought up a “brilliant” plan. Since, there was no getting out of going, I would just pretend to go. I would sneak away and hide in the unoccupied church sanctuary and then leave with everyone else and act like I had had a great time. Brilliant?
Not so much.
This story seems pretty laughable all these years later. The shy girl hiding because she was terrified to talk to new people.
However, from a young age, I was forming a bad habit of “hiding” from situations that were difficult or awkward for me.
I avoided one-on-one conversations, parties, or large social gatherings (which is nearly impossible to do in my extremely extroverted family).
I labeled myself as “shy” and that was that.
After years of hiding behind the label “shy” I came to a place where I really didn’t like the person I had become. I was in my early twenties and I didn’t like having shallow relationships. I was tired of feeling totally awkward in conversations and social settings.
So, I decided to take some serious action.
First, I admitted I had a problem. This was key for me! I wasn’t born shy and awkward. I had let myself become that way. I had to acknowledge this.
Second, I took a practical step to change this. I humbled myself and asked my older sister, Kristen, to mentor me and help me learn how to become a better conversationalist. We started meeting every week. This is when I started seeing real change.
We actually practiced having good and meaningful conversations.
I learned some great techniques for listening and sharing. She would also give me “homework.” I had specific things I had to do throughout the week (i.e. talk to one new person at church by myself for at least five minutes).
Slowly but surely I was breaking out of my shell and becoming the person God wanted me to be.
I was, and still am, a naturally quiet person. I’m an introvert at heart.
But, here’s the bottom line: we are all created with a God-given personality (outgoing, quiet, etc.) and we can use that personality for good or for evil.
In my case I was using my personality for evil. I wasn’t investing in the lives of others at all. I was only focusing on myself and my needs.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
When I surrendered my fears and insecurities to God and asked Him to help me in this area, I started seeing that my “quiet” personality could be used for good.
I began asking people meaningful questions.
I purposed to be available to listen to people that needed someone to talk to. I strived to speak words of encouragement to those around me.
And guess what happened??
My relationships started thriving. My conversations were way deeper. I had sooo much more joy and peace in my life. I wasn’t scared or nervous about going to parties or social events. I didn’t dread one-on-one conversations either. I actually looked forward to going to church and fellowshipping.
To all of my “shy” friends out there: If you are serious about overcoming your “shyness” and becoming the person God created you to be, these three steps of actions are for you. These helped me a ton!
1. Own It!
The first step for me was to recognize that I had a problem and then own it! Take responsibility. Don’t blame it on your “shyness” or other circumstances.
Recognize that bad habits have made you the way you are and new good habits can help you become the person God wants you to be.
2. Ask For Help and Get Accountability.
Get help! Look for someone you know who is a really good communicator and ask them if they would be willing to help you.
Yes, this takes humility. But it’s worth it. Trust me! Ask if they’ll meet with you or talk on the phone regularly to give you communication help and keep you accountable. Be humble, be open to correction, and diligently work on making changes.
3. Just Do It!
Get out there and do it. Start small. Take that first baby step. Remember what I did? I started by forcing myself to talk to one person for five minutes at church.
Making change can be really hard and awkward. But remember, old habits won’t be broken in a day. Take that first step. Go talk to someone. Ask them how they are doing, what they have been up to, etc. And then keep asking more people!
God did a radical change in my life.
One year ago today, I was a very shy person. And today, I’m still myself—just a much better version.
As a result of God changing my attitude and heart in this area, He has opened up unimagined doors of opportunity for me. One of them being the opportunity to serve as a leader (a leader!!) in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group! And you know what…I’m actually excited about it.
There is hope for the most shy, awkward and uncomfortable person out there.
By God’s grace, YOU can change. You can become a friendly, welcoming and warm person. God made us to love others and have deep meaningful relationships with people and YOU can have that.
I want to hear from you now (especially you introverts).
- Do you feel intimidated and uncomfortable in social settings, one-on-one’s, and in groups? If so, why?
- I have learned that shyness is usually a disguised form of selfishness. Why do you think you tend to be “shy?” When did this habit form?
- What practical steps can you put into action today to slowly overcome your timidity?
Let’s interact below! You can also catch me blogging at our family blog, www.OhHappyHeights.com And yes, that’s me in the picture above…and that’s how I feel now. 🙂
This guest post was written by Ellissa Baird, one of our awesome younger sisters. She is 22 years old, loves coffee, and ran her first marathon last year. She’s da bomb!