I am shy
11:22 a.m. on November 10, 2004
I have a mild case of social anxiety disorder. It was more severe as a kid; I am sure I was one of those little kids that would hide behind my mothers’ legs when introduced to new people. I had to walk the mile to and from school most days, even in the first grade. I remember that when I was walking down the sidewalk, if I saw someone walking towards me, I would cross the street. This was mainly to avoid the awkwardness of saying hello or not saying hello, make eye contact or no eye contact.

I was dreadfully shy in most situations. I think this is why I did not do that well in school at first; I was often too afraid to ask the teacher for help. If I had a question, I could not ask. My only hope was that someone else had the same question and the teacher answered loud enough for me to hear it.

In the 5th grade, the whole class had to go once a week to the nearby nursing home and “adopt” a grandparent. An older person would be selected for us & we had to go in their room and chat with them. This was a noble concept, but it scared the hell out of me. The lady that was picked for me was so old and ill, she was unable to speak with me, and so I would just stand in her room in petrified silence. She ended up passing away, and another lady was picked for me. I would try and get out of going to the home by saying I was sick and did not want to infect any of the older folks. Eventually the new lady they picked for me died, too, so I did not have to go anymore. I could stay in the classroom and have an extended recess by myself once a week.

I was simply afraid of people. I had a hard time going up to an employee in a store & asking for help and was super shy in most new situations. This definitely held me back in life. There were a few times when I was able to buck up some courage and approach someone to make a new friend. These moments always improved my existence and I wish there were more of them.

Now that I am an adult, it is getting a lot better. I am not intimidated as easily. Social situations also became a lot easier with the consumption of alcohol. After 3 Long Island Ice Teas, I will talk to just about any one.

My biggest social clumsiness these days involves my neighbors. When I see them, I am tempted to pretend that I do not. This is mainly to avoid the awkwardness of saying hello or not saying hello, make eye contact or no eye contact. I have settled on the quick wave and head nod and will breathe a sigh of relief when the gesture is painlessly returned.

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