Letters of Mass Construction

Confessions of a Secret Shy Guy

When I tell people that I have overcome extreme shyness I am often met with looks of doubt. Not that people don’t believe that I have overcome it, just most people have a hard time thinking of me as shy. I get that. I have worked hard to beat my shyness. The truth is there have been several long periods of my life that my shyness locked me up so bad that the only friends I had were the ones I met in books.

I would often imagine myself as my favorite characters. I was James Bond or Menion Leah or Paul Atreides. My social awkwardness only got worse when I was sexually molested as a young teen. Now I had this secret that I couldn’t let out. I had this horror that was eating me alive. I already felt different and weird. The assault just multiplied all those complexities and emotions and issues by a million. It stole trust away from me. It stole safety. It crushed my ability to just be me. It filled me with an anger that tried to eat me alive.

As a young adult I turned to alcohol. Alcohol masked all of those problems. I felt it allowed me to talk to people. It allowed me to be funny and reckless. I asked a woman out on a date after going my entire high school career not going on one. No proms, no dances, no parties, I had completely isolated myself (I had some close friends who lived nearby but those were the only people I ever interacted with). I felt like alcohol was allowing me a chance to show people who I could be. I was wrong of course. Someone forgot to tell me that one shouldn’t trust ones brain under the influence of alcohol.

Parts of it were true. I had moments. The problem is that what I thought was funny was often just mean. What I thought was me being social was really me being a pain in the ass. My anger ratcheted up to new levels when I was drinking. Luckily, deep down inside me I knew I was a good person. I knew there was an interesting man struggling to get out. I had made some good friends who could see past all the anger. All the pain. Who knew I needed a little push. They convinced me to stop drinking. I went over 20 years before I ever had another drop of alcohol. I took my last sip before I was even legal to drink it. I wasn’t an alcoholic when I stopped (it was way to easy to quit) but I was getting there.

Every year since then has been a struggle to push myself outside my comfort zone. To set goals and make sure I follow through on them. I took my passions and began writing about them. Sharing them and talking to people about them. In college, I learned that it was really easy to meet people if I took some chances. Sometimes I failed miserably but I discovered that if I have a gift it is to let failure run off of me like water on a slide. I turned books, comics, and writing into my super power to overcome shyness. Talking about my favorite book was easy. Listening to other people tell me what they loved was easy. As the years rolled on I found that while I always felt uncomfortable I could work past it.

It isn’t as if shy guy is gone. He is always there. Slightly insecure. Always worried about what others might think. Afraid to take chances. A good example of this was a few years ago at WonderCon. I was hanging out with some people who I know unequivocally are my friends. These are people I can call when I need something. They decided they were going out to lunch. There were a few people in the group I did not know. I had not heard the words, “hey, you want to get lunch?” So I watched them walk away. I went back to my hotel room alone and angry at myself. Having the same old conversation. They didn’t want me there. I was intruding on their other friends’ time. It wasn’t true though. They had wondered why I didn’t go with them. The shy guy is important though because he should be listened to. It’s possible I was intruding. It could have been a special time. Shy guy should be listened to and evaluated. I am doing much better at this. I never take it personal when friends are busy. I am busy. I get it.

I majored in psychology in college. This was clearly an attempt on my part to understand myself better. To deal with the things that have always hung shackled around my neck. I have never regretted it. I still have issues that I am always working on. Depression is like a stalker always lurking in the shadows. I still feel incredibly awkward inside whenever I am around people. I do my best to not show it. It has paid off with a wonderful marriage and great friends. I put myself out there. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes the shy guy wins. More often than not he doesn’t.

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