Painfully Shy

Wanna know a fun fact about me? I am painfully shy around new people. Before anyone gets crazy and shouts “Staci you are not shy!!” let me say, I know that. Once I get to know folks and am comfortable around them I am no longer shy and even a bit funny and outgoing. It’s those dreaded “new people” that make me clam up and retreat into my shell.
I’ve always been like this. When it comes to meeting new people, I have tons of anxiety issues. When new people are in the room and I’m meant to meet them I suddenly become aware of how much cooler these new people are than I am. I’m convinced my arms and hands look stupid any way I hold them, my hair looks totally lame and everything I say seems so obnoxious. So, to avoid being noticed and judged I stay silent and glance around hoping to find at least one person I know so I can cling to them.
It’s worse when I’m meeting people who are younger than me. Because in my mind younger equals cooler. Seriously who am I, some 29 year old, single mom with a kid, who still watches Star Wars at least once a month and reads comics. Soooo, I guess everyone is cooler than me.

What’s so frustrating is I’ve been this way my whole life. You’d think by now I’d have figured out a way to deal with it. You would think that I’d found a way to let out my inner extrovert at the drop of a hat, but I haven’t. It’s always the same:

Friend 1: Staci, this is my friend Bob! I’ve told him all about you!
Staci: Hi Bob, nice to meet you.
Bob: Hi! I’ve heard you’re really funny!
Staci: …Ha! Yeah…
And then silence between me and Bob for the rest of the evening.

You’d think that in that situation maybe it was the expectation of being funny right off the bat, that put me off. But really, I can’t even come up with some lame joke?  So maybe in the situation I was just caught off guard, but then there’s this situation:

Friend 1: Staci, this is my friend Cindy.
Staci: Hi Cindy! How are you?
Cindy: I’m good! Are you having fun at this party?
Staci: I sure am.
Cindy: Great!
And then looking around the room awkwardly. Until I have a second martini then suddenly Cindy and I are best friends. The problem with this is that the next day, even though we friend each other on Facebook, we can’t remember what we talked about or why we connected so well. So at the next party we approach each other awkwardly and make small talk, until we have a second martini and the process repeats.

I don’t like being awkward around new people. I know in my head that they are just people and I don’t have to impress them. But I still find myself totally uncomfortable waiting for the awkwardness to go away so I can be normal again.

I used to think this was something I would grow out of, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe I am doomed to be this way forever… I hope not.

One response to “Painfully Shy

  1. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m very similar. I have a comfort zone, and in it, I’m not shy at all. Out of it though, like when meeting new people, I’m either quiet and reserved or obnoxious and over-the-top to compensate for how shy and awkward I feel. I can usually warm up to new people, especially if a friend makes the introduction, but I’m never the first to go up to someone new and say hi.

    Maybe we should go out and meet new people. Together we can help push the other to overcome our discomfort of leading the way or just meeting new people in general…either that or we can just drink martinis and laugh at how awkwardly awesome we are 🙂

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