I’ve always been called shy.
It’s one word that I’ve had associated with me my entire life, and becoming a parent hasn’t changed that.
Personally, I’ve never minded being introverted but it can be a struggle sometimes, especially around school events.
I’m capable of being a social butterfly in the right environment, and with people I’m 100% comfortable around, but I’ve always been dismal at small talk and I avoid it at all costs.
Because of this, I tend not to chit chat at the school gate or at parent and teacher meetings, which can sometimes lead to the other parents thinking I’m snobby. But trust me, I’m not. I’m just having a silent panic attack on the inside at the thought of striking up a conversation.
I’ve had been told my whole life that I’m silly and asked, “what is there to be afraid of?” And while the logical part of my brain agrees, the emotional part is still riding the anxiety roller coaster and isn’t coming off any time soon.
People often mistake my shyness for a lack of confidence, but that’s not the case. I’m a very confident person when it comes to most aspects of my life, but when I’m meeting new people I get bashful and lose my ability to speak.
My son does not have this problem and never stops talking, even in his sleep. I’m grateful for this because unfortunately being shy as a kid can often mean being ostracised by other children. To be honest, that can still happen as an adult.
My biggest worry is about my son being left out, not because of anything that he’s done but because of me. I break into a cold sweat when I think about organising playdates and because I’m not in any of the mum groups, my son can sometimes be forgotten about when birthdays and events come around. So on top of being incredibly anxious, I also feel incredibly guilty.
To anyone who has ever met me and thought I was snubbing them, don’t worry, I wasn’t. I’m just a nervous wreck of a human being when it comes to conversation.
I often have people tell me that it’s pretty ironic that I’m so bad with words considering I write for a living, but writing is actually a consequence of my shyness. While I may stumble my way through speaking, writing my opinions and feelings has always come naturally to me.
I’ve come a long way from being the teenager that literally didn’t speak at all, not even to reply to roll call in class, so there’s hope for me yet.
You never know, someday I might be the chatty Cathy at the school gate. Until then, everyone is going to have to make do with an awkward smile from me, sometimes paired with the occasional head nod.