A note on being shy…

shyness advice life shy

Firstly, it’s okay to be shy, and it’s also okay not to be shy either!

It’s really hard to write a post about being shy, because I’m not so much any more. I was shy in the most extreme way possible (I was once called the ‘office loner’. To this day I refuse to have birthday parties because I hate being the centre of attention (it’s to do with letting people down, and ‘does everyone really want to be here?’ more than shyness now!).

In my ‘shy days’, I barely spoke unless in the company of a small group of friends, and I was always fairly quiet, happy but quiet. I’m still more of a listener now, but if you’re not shy or you’ve never really battled with it, here is some food for thought:

  • We do have opinions, and sometimes we’re overly quiet because we don’t want to interrupt your train of thought
  • We don’t challenge others, not because we’re not intelligent enough or afraid of the confrontation, but all that negative energy is draining. Negativity is so pointless
  • We’re not stupid or uneducated AND we don’t think you are stupid or uneducated
  • We’re not NOT making an effort, but when there are eight people all clamouring for attention, it seems silly to interject or we wouldn’t know what to say


Nowadays, I probably sit somewhere in the middle of shy and super confident (it also comes with age!). One thing I always do, is talk to the quietest person in our group whether I know them well or not, mostly because I have been in their position and because they sometimes have insanely brilliant opinions. Some of the ‘shyest people in public’ people I know are the most hilarious!

When I was crazy shy, I wouldn’t take risks, I would sit quietly, do my job, let the day pass, but for what? Travel helped, and music, and weirdly, social media.

Traveling alone REALLY helped.

A tiny word of advice:

  • You don’t HAVE to use the internet as a safety blanket, because that person making those self confident remarks on twitter (but not real life), is still you.
  • Make lists of what you want to achieve (like a shyness bucket list), whether it’s just saying ‘hello’ to a cashier instead of avoiding eye contact one week, then telling a stranger in a fitting room her dress looks nice the next, build it up, slowly. Strangers are easier to approach because you NEVER have to see them again.
  • You don’t have to worry so much about what people think, because most people are thinking about themselves, not a constant stream negative thoughts about others.
  • Take risks, travel when you can, laugh more, be happy and (safely) talk to strangers because life is too short.

Have any of you suffered with shyness? How did you overcome it? How do you deal with it?

9 responses to “A note on being shy…

  1. Great post. I am kind of shy when I meet new people until I find a common ground I open up a little bit more. Over the years I have become less shy. I agree traveling alone helped a lot. The thing the helped me overcome my shyness the most is getting involved in student organizations and taking leadership positions. When you are a leader you do not have time to be shy. There is a little bit of shyness in everyone.


    • This is such a lovely response! I am so in awe that you’re taking up leadership positions, for me the idea of leading something still brings the mind ‘being the centre of attention’ – I am used to managing teams of people (usually junior marketers), and prefer to ‘mentor’ instead of simply leading if that makes sense?


  2. I’ve struggled with extreme shyness (and social anxiety) my whole life. I would never talk to people I didn’t know, only stuck with a close group of friends. People at school would always be surprised when I said something, and that just made things feel worse!

    I must say, working at the mall really forced me to come out of my shell, because I had to say hello to strangers every day. Now, I’m still a very shy person at heart, I’m still very quiet in large crowds. I don’t have a problem speaking up now, and I do make an effort to make small talk with people when I can, even though it is still difficult!


    • Thanks for your comment! It’s nice to see you’re overcoming it too, one of my favourite things is meeting people, and living ni a city like London means strangers will talk to you! I was so quiet in my first retail job they would put me in the stockroom! Wah! 🙂


  3. Such a great post! I used to be shy as well, especially when I was in school. It was a complete nightmare for me to speak in front of my class, especially cause I thought that everybody hated me.

    For my part, Uni-time helped me a lot. I was forced to speak in front of complete strangers, more than once a week, because we had to do a lot of presentations and stuff. Also starting to work helped a lot. I think I can tell every teenager, who feels like they can never be “unshy”, that they can! It’s just a matter of time an experience.

    I really loved the point that most people only think about themselves, not about you or others. It really helps to keep that in mind when you are, f.e. attending a party where you know almost nobody. There are always people there, that are feeling as shy as you, or the other people, that are too busy minding their own stuff.

    Anyway! Just wanted to say one more time that I really liked this post!

    xx Carolin

    Olive Apple


    • Thanks Carolin, although we had some of this conversation on Twitter too, I think it’s important that our non twitter followers see this too (we are @claireinthesnow and @oliveappleblog! It’s so true at parties, everyone is so preoccupied with something and worrying about having a good time themselves!x


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