Obviously, this picture is intended to be humorous. And it is humorous. But it also made me wonder how many of us “shy” people are actually holding back our awesomeness? Not because we don’t want to intimidate others (as suggested in the funny quote…and what makes it funny), but because we are intimidated.
I do this a lot. I’m not saying I have a ton of awesomeness bottled up inside, but I know that I have some. We all do. Okay, we all have lots. Including me.
But somehow, we let life (and the people in it) intimidate us into hiding it.
Shyness is something I never really struggled with growing up. In fact, I can name about 100 people (including teachers) who probably thought a good dose of shyness would’ve been good for me (and everyone around me). I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other. I had 18 students in my class most years. We had the occasional new student and sometimes people moved (including me for a few years), but except for the few years I was gone, I went to school with the same 18 students my entire life. And we didn’t just go to school together. We did everything together. In school and out of school. Because we really didn’t have much choice, did we?
When you spend every day with people who are as close to you as your own brothers and sisters, there’s really no reason to be shy. They know the real you, so there’s no point in trying to hide it. And thank heavens that I didn’t. The memories I made with those 18 people are some of the most precious I will ever have. To this day, I love them all as much as I did when we were children. Our lives have changed, my relationships with some of them have changed, but those memories will live on forever.
In undergrad, I was slightly shy, but thanks to amazing instructors and professors, I got over it quickly. And then, just like in elementary school, I’m sure some people wished I would just stop talking, stop being involved in absolutely everything, and really just get over myself.
So, when did shyness become a problem? And more importantly, when did shyness turn into holding back my awesomeness? Law school.
Walking into law school, I realized that everyone else in that building was at least as intelligent and “accomplished” as I was (if not more so). They had to be or they wouldn’t be there. They all graduated at the top of their classes with just as many honors and accolades as I did. My IQ was no higher than theirs, and even if it was, that wasn’t going to save me. I knew I was out of my league just by listening to my classmates introduce themselves. They were from big cities, graduated from big schools, and had done big things. Sure, the admissions office had let me in, too, but… On the first day, I mispronounced “Scalia” in front of everyone. It could have been almost any other word or name, but no. It had to be a Supreme Court Justice on the first day of law school. After that, I only opened my mouth when I was in a small class and we were discussing a subject matter that I was extremely comfortable with. I tried leaving my comfort zone exactly twice in my other, larger classes, and both times, what had sounded important and relevant in my head ended up sounding ridiculous once it left my mouth.
Of course, the craziness that was going on outside of law school didn’t help. In fact, the craziness and the drama that followed is what led to the shutdown of my awesomeness. Those of you that follow the blog are probably starting to think, “What in the world happened to the no personal posts policy?” You may even be thinking, “Oh my, here we go again…” But no worries. Here we don’t go again. These semi-personal posts are my way of getting out of the shyness (and the holding back), but no, I’m not completely there yet.
Right now, I am still questioning myself more than I ever have in my life. And because you may be, too, I decided I needed to write this post. Because if we keep hiding our awesomeness, it’s going to go to waste. And how sad that would be.
While I’m writing, I’m reminding myself that those people who watched a couple videos and read a couple blog posts didn’t really know me. That I am responsible for my mistakes, but they are responsible for their meanness, their gossipy ways, and the judgments they made. That I can’t be good at everything, but I am very good at the important things. And that it’s high time I get over this.
It’s been almost a year since I made the huge mistake of putting our lives out for the public to judge via a reality web series (that wasn’t exactly a hit). Yet, because of that mistake, I still catch myself second-guessing almost everything. Not just with school, but with life. Every post on this blog gets proofread and edited numerous times. (And now I’m thinking that since you know that I proofread so much, there better not be any mistakes…even though I know there are.) I write mostly about recipes and crafts, yet I proofread like I’m writing the great American novel. This blog is mostly read by the same people, almost all of whom I know personally, but I edit like those soap trolls are still hanging on every word.
Every time I post a picture, I’m examining the background for something that may be out of place, even though our home is clean. We rarely have more than a couple dishes in the sink at a time because everyone in our family knows how to chip in and because we just value being clean and organized. So why do I check those pictures so closely? Because if I don’t, and if something just happens to look messy, I’ll get comments that say my loser husband needs to spend more time cleaning.
When I post pictures of the kiddos, I remember the troll who told me that it wouldn’t hurt to run a brush through their hair. And again, I feel that tug to say, “I do! I promise I do! My kids bathe daily, I fix their hair, and they always have clean clothes.” As though I owe her that explanation.
And when I read about the fun other people have with homeschooling, I look at our “perfect” classical curriculum and feel just a twinge of envy. While I love the education my kids are getting, I’m a tad bit envious of all the fun people are having with more flexible scheduling and even a bit of unschooling here and there. Because you know that I don’t have the nerve to do anything that could lead someone to think that my kids aren’t being as well educated as they would be in public school. I wrote briefly a few years ago about how I was considering unschooling (which we ended up not even doing). At the time I wrote it, no one said anything, but once I started getting new readers here, I got an earful. Even though I know that I was meant to teach, that I was given academic gifts for a reason, and that I am a responsible and loving parent, I keep my instinct nicely tucked away under the piles of Latin verb conjugation worksheets, impecable documentation, and the “best” textbooks.
Being a fairly new “mommy blogger,” I try to learn from the more experienced bloggers out there. I look at their sites quite a bit. A lot of them write about parenting (hence the term “mommy blogger”). Often, they post questions from readers about parenting issues. Things like discipline, household management, and teaching responsibility. Questions that I really do have good answers to. Questions that our family has addressed numerous times. I can tell you right now with certainty that it is possible to teach children responsibility and respect without shaming or intimidating. That it is possible to discipline without punishment. That every situation with a child can be handled without ever raising a hand to them, no matter how defiant they are, how important the lesson is, or how you define “hitting.” I don’t know these things because I am a perfect parent. I know these things because I was just born to be a mama. There’s nothing I love more. But every time I think maybe I should throw my two cents in, I remember that people can get very angry when you suggest your parenting methods may be superior to theirs, even when you are only trying to help. And I just read on without ever leaving a comment…hiding my awesomeness.
Why? Because the fear of being judged is stronger than the awesomeness it is hiding. It’s not more important. It’s not more reasonable. And it’s certainly not prettier. It’s just stronger. For now.
But lately, I’ve been thinking that I’m not the only one that feels like this. There are lots of people who hide their awesomeness. And maybe if you knew that even one person was supporting you, your awesomeness could shine. I know there’s not going to be a ton of comments on this post with everyone chiming in and sharing the ways they are going to start showing off more of their awesomeness. Most likely there will be one comment. From my mother. But I know that more people than just my mom are reading this. And I want you to know that the awesomeness needs to start shining again. I’ve figured out that mine shines the most when I’m helping someone else. That’s why I love teaching. That’s why I wanted to be a lawyer. And that’s why my world revolves around being a mother. Find out what gives you the strength to shine. And then find ways, even if only baby steps, to stop hiding your awesomeness.
Because it’s time.