Throughout the first 27 years of my life, shyness was a crippling factor across many aspects of my life; the two main ones being both my personal and professional life. Having said this, I still had to face up to all the same challenges which most of us face on a daily basis.
In my personal life this included social gatherings i.e. face to face interaction, especially making eye contact and when it came to the opposite sex, my confidence would be null and void. In my professional life I was held back by my inability to express myself confidently and convincingly, thus always taking jobs where social interaction was at its lowest, if at all.
The first main step towards improvement was taking up amateur theatre during my university years. I was terrible at it but it helped me to step out of my shell. Making a fool of myself, in front of hundreds of people at our local theatre helped immensely to overcome shyness. During one particular play I had to dress up as a grandmother while being chased around the stage by the big bad wolf, yes it was an amateur version of “Little Red Riding Hood”. That day, I learnt how horribly uncomfortable and even dangerous it is to wear high heels.
Another huge help in overcoming shyness was by taking up dance classes back in 2005. Dancing with complete strangers, involves physical proximity with someone you have just met minutes or even seconds before, usually there is not even time for introductions, you just get on with it!
The final and most important step towards overcoming shyness, was by starting to teach English in 2008. I would not have imagined in a million years, that I would have stood up in front of groups of 30 to 40 students at the University of Pablo Olavide to teach English or at various companies and academies across Spain and France, so perhaps the strongest factor throughout my life, which has forced me out of my comfort zone, has been my need to make ends meet. If you have nothing else to fall back on such as a roof over your head or family and a partner, then you have no other choice than to just get on with it, as nobody else is going to pay your rent or food bill each month; as the saying goes “necessity is the mother of all inventions”.
Therefore I believe that to a certain degree, shyness is a luxury that most of us can not afford. So next time you are at an English class, just think about your underlying need to speak fluent English for your professional future and simply take the plunge, its not like you have any other alternative in my classes, as I take no prisoners 😉