Timidity, nervousness and shyness are all synonymous with self-consciousness. Speaking as a kid who grew up painfully shy: we become overly-concerned about being embarrassed, about saying something wrong, or about appearing foolish. Because of this, we police our speech and our actions. We keep quiet. We remain passive. We don’t speak our mind.
The problem with living that way is that when we are inhibiting ourselves in this fashion, we are not being genuine. And nobody likes a person who is not genuine. We love babies because they are genuine. Babies have no hint of deception or falseness. We love dogs because they can’t conceal ulterior motives; their tails give them away.
When we are not being genuine, we are not being ourselves. We erect barriers between ourselves and others. Being painfully shy hurts not just you, but those that would benefit from knowing your true self. All of us are beautiful. All of us are wonderful creations of a God that loves us. All of us are important. All of us are also unique.
When we inhibit our inner selves because of self-consciousness, we are detracting from our personality not adding to it.
When we are not being ourselves, we are trying to fit in; to conform. It’s less about inhibition, and more like imitation. If you are not being you, you are trying to be someone else by default.
“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” Judy Garland
If I’m describing you right now, then here’s a quick and simple truth to help you overcome nervousness around strangers.
While you are spending all your time worried about what a stranger thinks of you, the truth is they are not thinking about you. They are thinking about what you are thinking of them.
Here’s proof for that statement. If you take a group photo, who is the first person that you look for when you see the picture? You. And your friend Billy looks for? That’s right, Billy. Your entire judgement of whether or not the photo is good or bad depends on how you look in it.
So don’t focus on how self-conscious you are. Focus on how self-conscious they are. When you realize that they are concerned about making a good impression on you, it helps you to empathize with them.
If it helps, pretend you are interviewing them for a job, and they are a scared candidate trying to make a good impression and you need to coax them out of their nervousness. Pretend they want to ask you out on a date and you’re the homecoming queen. Pretend you are the adult and they are the child. Pretend you are the celebrity and they are your biggest fan.
Too much focus on your behavior and your words, restrains you. If it becomes out of control, it’s more than just inhibition, it’s dishonesty.
What is the best advice you have heard for overcoming self-consciousness, timidity, or outright fear?