Before starting first year, I had this idea in my head that my shyness would be cured as soon as I set foot on campus. Friends of mine who I’d never known to be quiet people said their time at university is what had brought them out of their shells. I was hopeful the same would happen to me.
As I watched my parent’s car drive away from my room in Beech Court, confidence wasn’t something I was feeling. There was nothing I wanted more than to create a new reputation for myself – I didn’t want to be “the quiet girl” anymore.
Despite my initial intentions of reinventing myself, I suddenly had this feeling I wasn’t going to be the outgoing person I’d hyped myself up to be all summer. Though I didn’t hide in my room all night, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being painfully awkward.
I’d imagined myself laughing about how I won the “quietest girl in the year” award in my school year book with all my new friends. However, several months after moving to Stirling, it seemed fair to assume I hadn’t shaken off this reputation.
It always felt like everyone else could walk into a room and immediately be themselves. When I walked into a room, I was avoiding eye contact. Unlike my time at school, it wasn’t pointed out that I didn’t talk a lot. It might not have bothered anyone else, but it was frustrating for me.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being shy and there are many worse personality traits a person can have: arrogance, ignorance and narcissism to name a few. Though I cannot speak for every shy person, the reason I’ve hated being this way is that I’ve always worried people got a completely wrong impression of me.
Nobody likes to be thought of as boring, and ‘anti-social’ wasn’t the first word I wanted people to think of when they heard my name. Parties may have made me incredibly nervous before hand, but receiving an invitation was always a nice gesture.
The best thing that happened to me at university was summoning the courage to go to the societies I had signed up for. It was daunting at first, but having lots in common with the people there meant making conversation wasn’t as hard as I was expecting it to be. I might not have attended the meetings from the get go, but it was better late than never.
Even now that I’m in fourth year, there are times when I feel that I’m still reliant on my shell. It very much depends on how comfortable I am with the social situation I find myself in. Considering I didn’t talk to anyone for the first three years at primary school, some progress has been made.
The more you put pressure on yourself to come out of your shell, the more you may punish yourself if you don’t. For some people it happens straight away, but for people like myself, it’s a gradual process.
If it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to, that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. It’s something nobody else can do for you, and more likely than not, it’ll happen when you decide to stop overthinking it.