For as long as I can remember I have been labelled as shy. It has negative connotations. Shyness is a negative trait. I have long wished I wasn't shy. Over the years I have put images on my vision board time and time again to motivate myself to do something to be more extrovert, to learn to enjoy networking events, to love talking on the telephone, to get out there and mix with others in the world.
The reality is not so simple. My idea of a nightmare? Put me in a room full of strangers and say, "go mingle". Put me in a room full of family and friends and I'm still not wholly comfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I am surrounded by loved ones, but being in a large group doesn't put me at ease. I'm drained by groups. I'm exhausted by crowds. I feel uneasy.
|Small talk doesn't come easy|
Photo Credit: Linden Laserna
I'm way out of my comfort zone talking to strangers. Add to that having to communicate in a foreign language and I am often floored by the fact that I converse with anyone outside my family. But I do. On a daily basis. In a language that is not my mother tongue. It used to be a lot harder. For a child, shyness can be crippling and stressful. I know firsthand.
I was the child that hid behind my mother's skirt tails. I was the child that needed an hour to warm up at my grandparent's house. I was the child in school that rarely put their hand up when the teacher asked a question, even though I knew the answer. I was the kid that dreaded hearing the teacher say "...and then you'll give a presentation on it...." I hated those forced debates we had in the classroom, one group pro and one group against one controversial statement or another. I hated it when our religious education teacher, Mr Strang, declared we'd make a play of the bible story we'd just covered. I felt guilty for acts I never committed. I was the child that felt a classmate's humiliation. The stress and dread was real in each situation. Being centre stage was not in my nature. It's still not in my nature. All grown up but I'm still shy.
Becoming a mother is learning to know and accept yourself. Becoming a mother is like holding a mirror up to yourself twenty four hours a day. You can't expect your children to love themselves if they don't have that example. Motherhood has taught me that my own childhood was not about shyness, it was about being an introvert. Introvert covers it better than the dreaded S word. I'm not flawed. There is nothing wrong with me. The fact is that I am an introvert. It's not a negative thing. And because I recognise that now, and accept introvert is what and who I am, I can pass that message on to my sons in a positive way.
|Introverts need reflection and quiet|
Photo (c) Amanda van Mulligen
I am an introvert. My children are introverts. It doesn't need to change. We don't need to change. As a mother I will reinforce this every day. I promise to make sure my children do not spend their childhood feeling like they don't match up to society's expectations. I will make sure that my children don't feel that they are not good enough because they don't shout loudest. I will make sure they don't feel inferior because they don't feel comfortable standing before the class to share their story. I won't allow them to feel crippled with the fear that there is something wrong with them. I will teach them ways to make space for their thoughts, to understand their needs. I will help them accept their introverted selves. I will make sure they are not labelled with the S word, that they don't see their quietness as a flaw.
I promise to raise my children with the understanding that the world needs introverts, just like it needs extroverts.