Why Am I Shy? Understanding What Shyness Means

Why am I shy, a question that has been on my mind for 30 years? When I think about my experiences over the years, I get sad.

Not because I was shy, but because I never knew enough about other people to realize there was so much more to it then just shyness.

What I know now, could help that child to understand what was really going on?

I know I am not alone when I am talking about being shy, in fact, I think it’s safe to say that more than a billion people on this planet wonder what being shy is all about.

Image that says "Why can't you come out of your shell?"

Common questions are how can a person be shy one minute and outgoing the next? Why can’t you come out of your shell? (like it’s something I can remove whenever I wanted)

This brings me to my main question why am I shy? I know that people can’t just be born to be timid and yet here I am as proof. So where could all of this come from or who should I blame?

A goal of mine is to make it possible for everyone who wants, to understand why some people learn to be shy and others don’t.

I remember vaguely about my earliest years of school, I know that I was a bit rough with the kids around me.

Woman covering face afraid of other people seeing her because she is shy

I have been told that I was held back a grade because I just couldn’t play nice,  this was the first indication that I was different.

What Being Shy Means

You all have your own ideas about what shyness is and for those of you that actually are shy you probably consider it as a major weakness. Especially when you want to make friends, or want to have fun with others.

Let’s look at what being shy means. You desire more then you are comfortable doing in certain situations and the result is that you withdraw or say nothing. When you try to speak the words seem jumbled or stuck.

I have also had issues with being a soft talker and that too is annoying.  I don’t feel comfortable saying anything, but when I do, I usually end up having to repeat myself.

This leads to many more frustrations and eventually, I will want to quit doing things.Image saying "shyness means you feel uncomfortable or awkward around others"

Obviously, I know this well because it’s been a major character flaw my entire life, which I never fully understood. I would think of myself in negative ways and it was very problematic since unhappiness would follow.

For different reasons I was unable to understand myself and it wasn’t until later in life that I even realized I didn’t have to be so shy.

But that was something that I didn’t figure out before I found alcohol which for me was the nightmare which couldn’t be stopped.

Is Shyness a weakness?

The idea came to me to start thinking of alternative ways to express myself.

I was uncomfortable because I was trying to say the right things, not do anything weird with my hands or my body,  and I became obsessed with trying to keep everything still at all times.Image of this sentence "I was uncomfortable because...say the right things"

What a mess I was and full of so many self-doubts which kept piling onto my problems, sure I figured out ways to cope to get through my day and then had the fun of reflecting on my thoughts later on.

Nightmares would happen, or negative thoughts occurred which would keep me wide awake all night.

Wondering what people would think of me, wondering if I was liked or hated, wondering if people even noticed this or that about me and judged me.

These problems that I found out along the way which resulted from being the shy and quiet type. Problems leading to more problems and nobody who seemed to understand me.

Eight hands reaching for a woman who is alone and shy.

Part of me begged for help but I never asked 

Being in a constant state of mind where I knew I was miserable and wanted to be different.

The problem is the help never showed up, or if it did,  I was unable to realize it at the time.

My days would go by so slow and I would worry about the next few days before they ever got close.

The takeaway from this is that it’s not automatic that a change will happen on its own.

And it’s also why I know how much goes on inside your mind. Been there, struggled and finally figured out that I had to trust and believe in myself before anything would change.

Nobody understands you because you don’t let them or you don’t understand yourself and what is going on so you don’t even know how to ask for help.

Sounds like a fun way to live, doesn’t it?

One problem which you face, is others around you don’t understand what it’s like. When you are not shy you don’t understand what it’s like.

This way of life isn’t a lot different from anybody’s else’s, the exception is that you as a shy person, obsess about nonsense to a point it becomes a way to tear yourself down.Image that says "Shyness for me is almost like an illness"

What can be learned about being shy?

I first want to say that it’s not something that one can just wish for and boom it happens.

Shyness doesn’t go away without an effort to change yourself.

It can be viewed as a problem if your thoughts turn negative like mine did, and it’s only something that can improve or worsen depending on what you act on.

To understand how it really impacts your life you need to write things down to work on. If you want to be less shy or get more friends and don’t know how then you need to talk about things or be interested in things that other people are.

I have to remind myself of not being so withdrawn and to keep making an effort even when I quickly lose all the energy I had before. Shyness for me is almost like an illness, it’s something unwanted and even hated.

Wanting to be different and being confused all the time is no way to go through life, just hoping to someday be understood by somebody else.Image that says "21 days is the average to break a routine and add new one"

What are the positives about shy people?

So far I have only mentioned negative things about shyness, and it’s time to actually look at a few positives. The first thing is how independent I am and how absolutely focused on something I can get.

Attention to detail is a major plus for myself because I have a talent to do what many other people don’t feel comfortable doing. Shy people make the best listeners but sometimes eye contact can be distracting.

Given that you learn by repetition and doing things rather than discussions, we can clearly think outside of any boxes.

You are able to adapt easily if the need arises. Planning is a major plus because we can sit down and list things which are essential to getting any project completed.Man who is alone rocking climbing and battles being shy.

You are actually a great leader who likes to be behind the scenes and often coach others to do what you may be less comfortable taking credit for.

You figure out a situation and know whether it’s a good idea or not quicker than the average person does.

These are just a few valuable skills that come from being shy. This is also why a process for anyone who wants to change needs to be understood.

Because I am shy I know how to evaluate what it is I want.

Getting there may not be so easy, but with a little more ability to ask the right questions, you will go far beyond what is required.

To summarize why am I shy? it's not about pretending to be something you're not.

The absolute best advice I can offer to anyone thinking about why they are shy is that you just haven’t learned what it actually means to be different and to accept that as part of who you are.

To answer the question why am I shy? This requires you to know why you are not outgoing? If there is something you can change to make things easier than do them.

There are always ways to change one’s personality but of course, it’s no simple task.

The process involves taking a look at yourself on a daily basis and identifying which areas you really need to improve on, then making a plan to attack those and following through.

21 days is what it takes on average to break a routine and create a new one.

Whether you view shyness as a problem or not, you still need to look at what you are doing. This will be the area that you can change.

Once you identify what it is you really want, then it’s where you will start making those changes to what you are doing.

The solutions are out there for anyone to change who they are, and it’s not about pretending to be something you’re not.


Let me know what you think of this post. Every comment you share makes it easier for others(including me) to know what you need help on. Leave those comments below or any questions you have.

About Author


How are things going with you? My name is Eric and I am owner and operator of Overcome Life Obstacles. My main goal with this website is to provide answers to anyone who was like me and got lost or stuck in their lives. While you are here I wanted to make sure you check out my click herewhich is where I got my start in affiliate marketing as well as with self-improvement.

10 thoughts on “Why Am I Shy? Understanding What Shyness Means”

  1. I can relate to you and your daughter. I came from a family where I was the quiet one who got picked on during family events and ignored the rest of the time. Trying to be around everyone eventually got old for me and I tried to skip those kinds of get-togethers.

    Sounds like your daughter may have lucked out, retail jobs aren’t for everyone because they can end up going very badly. The eye contact issue alone can make going to work rough.

    And for a 21-day program, there are several things to try. The first is to start a journal, where you write about everything that goes on during your day. This will start to open your mind up and allow you to keep track of any negative thinking.

    The issue with shyness is we are usually pretty unfair with ourselves. That voice in our heads that says fear this and avoid that because it will not go well.

    Once you start to gain an awareness of how often you are doing this it will become obvious what needs to be worked on. For myself, I needed to start fresh with a better belief system.

    One that would build me up and allow me to be more open to the world that was happening all around me. It’s not something that is done in 21 days though and requires work to get things where you are comfortable.

    Your daughter may be someone that could benefit from taking an acting class or impromptu lessons. The focus is on quick thinking, decision making and being the center of attention.

    Just a few ideas for you.


  2. Great post!

    I have been shy my whole life and treated like there was something wrong with me because others in my family are very outgoing, and they do not understand any type of social anxiety.

    When my daughter told me that she was shy, I went to work looking for a solution for the both of us. This was short lived when she picked up an after-school job at a coffee shop and she was forced to talk to strangers daily! So, retail jobs help…a bit.

    I try to speak to strangers as often as possible to get out of my comfort zone, and I find the practice helps. However, since I have been off work with an injury, I am falling back into my shy ways.

    I have noticed that many people are the same, with the social anxiety. I struggle to find people to go for coffee with – just to get out. So many people seem to just want to stay home where they feel safe.

    Do you know of a 21-day program that helps?

  3. One of the many misconceptions out there is we need to say the right things or will be shunned by being an oddball. The facts actually point to everyone being an oddball and it’s because of that we are all interesting people.

    When we have a strong desire to be liked, we forget that the only person that ever has to like us is ourselves. After that, it doesn’t matter because there are people everywhere. You may not feel that you fit in today, but tomorrow you could easily be the one that everyone wants to emulate.

    Taking ourselves for granted is the quickest way to become miserable. When we put a label on the word shyness, we change its meaning. Some might label it a weakness whereas others would label it a strength.

    In either case, it makes no difference because I can be proud to be shy if I take the time to learn to value it as a personality trait. I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts and welcome you to keep doing so in the future as well.

  4. This is a really frank and open article and I think it resonates with most of us. I find being shy in certain situations, especially in new social environments can be really frustrating as you’re trying to find the right things to say without sounding strange or odd!

    I guess shyness can stem from many factors including our upbringing, our environment maybe even our genes.

    I don’t see shyness as a weakness anymore and I’m glad you’ve highlighted some good positives to inspire those that do feel that way.

  5. I think it’s important not to get caught up with things happening overnight. For me, a real tough lesson to learn is about patience and trying to overcome too many things all at once.

    Being shy is one of those areas that can be worked on but it takes a desire and an investment in to get things accomplished.

    Thanks for your words and I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  6. A really great article on Shyness. Something that affects us all throughout our life. You highlighted such an important point ” that it takes on average 21 days to break a habit and create a new one.”

  7. Shyness is more about the awkwardness which happens each time a person tries to be social. They want to interact and just can’t seem to find the words that are right in order to fit in.

    Introversion is where somebody actually prefers that alone time and doesn’t care to be social at all. There are certainly many people who experience both and everything is possible to overcome with the right direction and teachings.

    I really find fear and anxiety to be quite fascinating the more I learn and understand how all of this comes from our own experiences. Thanks for sharing and I appreciate your comments on this.

  8. I think being shy and being introverted is quite different. I come across as shy, but I’m really confident and introverted. I respect other’s space and don’t want to intrude in their busy lives. You can definitely overcome being shy.

  9. Misunderstood and not appreciated for when we do find a way to contribute. One of the hardest parts to interact with somebody is trying to figure out an interest. After that, it’s still not very comfortable to stand and look at each other.

    I really am glad to be online and have found a way to change from awkward to confident with a website.

    Thanks for the nice words.

  10. Very Very True. At work, I am like a social butterfly with customers but on my own time, I struggle to talk to people. People misread 98{002cebbb9982bb452b7f35ba8a1ec40e802a4e49a9f04bce8c9af9df955e9923} of the time. Shy people are so often misunderstood.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

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