Published on February 14th, 2014 | from CAMH

Confessions of a Shy Girl – NOT!

Helen has struggled with social anxiety as long as she can remember. Through the support of her family, friends and technology, the 23 year old is finding her voice.

People always said I was shy. I guess it was because I was usually too nervous to talk in big crowds, in a noisy classroom or at parties (which I also didn’t like to go to).

But I’m not really shy. I am not timid or easily frightened or cautious. I want to connect with other people and am willing to trust those who put in the time to get to know me. People think I’m shy because I am sometimes uncomfortable in the company of other people, especially in big groups or crowds. But that doesn’t mean I’m anti-social either.

I have social anxiety. While I may seem different because I’m not extroverted in a world that celebrates people who talk loudly and talk often, I do like to talk but at my own pace. It is not my choice to feel anxious when I speak with people. I don’t choose to be nervous when I stand in front of a group. I don’t choose to struggle.

When I was younger, my anxiety did prevent me from living my life to the fullest. It made high school tough especially because of bullying and university started out challenging. But I have decided that will not define who I am as a person. I am learning to cope and find strategies to help me at school and in the wider world.

I can’t think when I get nervous so I need a little more time than other people. My lingering anxiety still makes me worry about saying the wrong thing but I’ve learned how to better control it and now my face doesn’t necessarily turn beet red the way it used to when I got nervous.

Other than medication and coping strategies, what has really helped me is technology – the ability to text rather than talk.  Texting and emailing are my preferred ways of communicating with others. I am better able to express my feelings and thoughts through typing or texting. I don’t have to worry about taking the step to initiate conversation by calling someone or worry about how my voice sounds over the phone or wonder if my face is turning red.

The most important thing is that I don’t have to worry about what to say immediately after a sentence is finished. I don’t feel pressure to respond right away. Technology makes it much easier for me to communicate with others because time is on my side. I can take a breath and gather my thoughts before I text or type.  That makes conversations less stressful, makes me less anxious and makes it easier for me to connect with people. That’s making a huge difference in my life.

See also: Family Ties – Bridge to Recovery

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6 Responses to Confessions of a Shy Girl – NOT!

  1. this describes me to a T!

  2. abnormallydesigned says:

    You and me both! Great post! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Hey thanks abnormallydesigned#!!! Anxiety has caused me so much havoc in my life but I am definitely trying to live life to the fullest even when it’s still difficult at times. I just think of it as a good experience for me whenever I am faced with an anxiety-provoking situation and my face turning red. After all, you become a stronger person as a result of these hardships in life. 🙂

  3. Annie says:

    Most of my life has been controlled by this social anxiety. I was terrified to speak in class, always avoid eye contacts. I never knew what to say to people in a conversation. I avoided anything that could potentially focus attention on me. I came across standoffish and rude. It killed me because that’s not how I wanted to be. I didn’t know how else to be. When I did make effort to have a conversation, I always end up saying the wrong things. I’m fortunate that people didn’t always take it personally and retaliate. I loved partying because dancing was my passion and it help releases stress. Of course, some drinking is involved in partying.

    A combination of things helped me. I started a business which helped me to grow as a person and help me to come out of my comfort zone. I went on to CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). It’s expensive, but very helpful. At the same time, I was seeing my chiropractor regularly. Then I started praying. A close relationship with god will help you to be the person you were meant to be.
    Lucky for me, I took advantage of the help that was available to be. I am constantly educating myself on mental health.

    If you want to email me, you can @

    • doglover2500 says:

      Hi Annie!

      Indeed, a close relationship with God is important. I was an agnostic coming back from University of Ottawa and was an agnostic for most of my life but when my parents took me to pray at a temple for the first time (after coming back from the university), I felt his presence and his energy flowing in my body. It was a very strong one. And I have believed in Him ever since and would go and see Him regularly.

      During my quiet moments at night, I have looked back at my high school years and realize that He was there helping me and I didn’t even realize it at the time! I had prayed to Him (even when I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in Him) wishing that it would stop. And looking back now, it came true. When the bullying was going on in high school, He had an individual somewhat help me and made my last year of high school a bit more bearable but of course, it still wasn’t enough. I was still much the lone girl and was still very hard for me to go to school and attend classes.

      Word to the wise: trust Him and don’t abuse Him

  4. Jessica123 says:

    I am a Buddhist who doesn’t believe in a God, so much as I believe in the power of you and me. Humanity is a beautiful quilt of unique and diverse souls, the beauty of which is magnified only when lovingly brought (and stitched) together. That said, I found high school to be painful beyond belief. The scars I carry affect me to this day. The fact that one soul could be so cruel to another soul is unsettling… stay awake with debilitating insomnia unsettling…
    And yet I can appreciate that high school is only four years of my *hopefully* long life. I have been able to grow and change in a way that suits me and not in a way that society dictates is socially correct. I will be ok, realizing that being a social butterfly is not the be-all and end-all I once thought it was.

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