Where are the books for shy people?
I’ve spent the past couple months since I last posted reading and thinking more about introversion and quietness. Many of the introvert books and articles lament the fact that popular discourse conflates shyness and introversion. Some writers go beyond lament into an angry outburst on the continued confusion of the two terms. I understand where they are coming from. Introversion and shyness are two different things. The former is a disposition describing where a person draws their energy from. Introverts replenish their energy through solitude; extroverts replenish their energy through social interaction. Shyness, on the other hand, has more to do with an anxious feeling or a worry about ones perception in a situation. These differences are pointed out. After mentioning that shyness does not pertain to the talk on introversion, the author moves on to their focus and the shyness is left in that little disclaimer.
I wish more time was spent on shyness. If these authors don’t talk about it, who does? There are self-help books on shyness and social anxiety that I’ve skimmed through. They don’t tend to grab keep my attention anymore. I know what shyness is. I feel shy often. I don’t know if I want more lists of ways to overcome. I want a story that talks about what experiences that are being overshadowed now in service of setting the record straight on introversion.
It’s something that can benefit more than shy introverts. It seems to me that everyone feels shy at some point be they introvert or extrovert. Certain situations may make us feel nervous and a bit more worried. Some days we’re not on the ball. Something catches us off guard and we’re off balance, maybe even pushed down into an observant mode while we get back our footing.
Many situations make me feel shy. I have had friends and family say they do not see me as shy. I appreciate that. But they are not in my mind when the alarm bells ring as someone as someone approaches me to have a conversation or when I have to strike one up. I am not shy in every single situation. There are times I feel confident. With my family I am more at ease because I know how to interact with them comfortably. And the longer a conversation goes the more comfortable I feel. There are times when I push past worries and discomfort to try. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it does not and I leave the situation still feeling out of sync. There are times I retreat instead of try. I am learning what to do with the moments when I am overwhelmed with shyness because things happen, and shyness comes and goes.
I love reading to learn more. For minutes to hours I can take in the words, processing them quietly and deeply before I put them into action. Self-help books provide a lot of information, but I miss stories. What attracted me to Quiet by Susan Cain and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown was the story. Cain talks about her experiences as an introvert in an extroverted culture. She talks about her own struggles and interests. That is where the research comes from. Brene Brown began with research on vulnerability and then was bowled over by her own need to deal with her vulnerability issues. From their struggles come stories of encouragement. And though they can give readers a kick in the pants to make changes, they provide a sense of community that we’re in this together. There isn’t a looming sense of diagnosis and correction from an outside observer. There is more a compassionate sense of sharing thoughts and feelings that could benefit the reader. I do not want someone to tell me what shyness is. I want to hear a stories of living with shyness and what they learned from life. And maybe it will connect with what I am learning too.
So I want to find the shyness equivalent of Quiet and Daring Greatly. I don’t want something that just seeks to correct me. I want something that acknowledges very human struggles of living with aspects of ourselves that we do not always like. Because we’re all made up of little things that color our story, affect our identity, and make us who we are in all the complexities beyond good and bad.
I want something that connects us.
Have any books on shyness or shy introverts to recommend? What do you think about shyness? What do you think about self-help book versus personal stories?