Tag Archives: shyness

Personality: You are Who You Pretend to Be

As a child I was extremely shy and introverted. This doesn’t mean that I was weak or without personality. I was fairly strong willed but I wouldn’t talk or do anything to stand out in the crowd. The argument for nature vs nurture might play in here. My personality was imprinted at birth. My circumstances affected how my personality played out.

Growing up in a home rife with turmoil and many abuses probably made me into the shy and insecure child that I was. I was picked on, teased and remained in the background. I remember my passive aggressive act when one girl was bugging me in school. I didn’t confront her but as I walked home I spit on the sidewalk in front of her house.

In grade 7 I was still fairly shy but starting to flower in personality (as we are all wont to do in teenagerhood). I had a few friends, and was trying to fit in. However, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas (or my birthday) that year and I said a purple dress/shirt/some item of clothing. I received a wardrobe of purple; pants, tops, dresses. Everything was purple. I could not wear purple again for about ten years but today it is a color I wear frequently.

With that geeky stigma of one color, I tended to cringe and become conscious of clothing. I also looked at Margaret Parsons in my class. She was shyer than me, had red ringlets (really gorgeous red hair actually) and wore a school uniform. In retrospect I have a lot of sympathy for Margaret and Morag, who both came from school systems with uniforms. They stuck out like sore thumbs and again, moving into a district wasn’t easy. They were definitely outsiders and looked at strangely. Kids are very cruel, not yet tempered with the social skills on how to stab someone nicely in the back.

Back to Margaret; she was very very shy and quiet and I decided then and there that I didn’t want to be like her, which meant I had to change. It was important for me to fit in. My family was different, with divorced parents, not going to church, fighting. All my friends had more “normal” families. First was the clothing. Jeans and T-shirts were much the norm for teenagers.

By late high school I upped the ante again. My clothing was mostly in shades of blue and brown. I decided that if I wore brighter colors it would make me more outgoing (and had read something to that effect). Basically it became a case of fake it till you make it. I did this again in art college.

Overall it was a long, slow transition, but little by little my clothes got brighter and my personality changed. I started to wear more jewellery (some would say I wear too much) and became a clothes horse, liking fashion and trying to find unique styles. But along the way I consciously challenged my boundaries. And sure enough, I went from being a shy introvert to and outgoing extrovert.

Few of us are 100% of anything. We all have introvert and extrovert in us. I can be quiet, even withdrawn, and sometimes prefer to sit back in the sidelines and watch. But I also enjoy being at a party or around people. Had I not pushed myself I would have probably remained an introvert. Would the switch have happened anyways? I don’t know. But I’m sure it would have taken much longer.

Wearing bright colors was a physical manifestation of how I wanted to change and I think it did work towards bringing me out of my shell. And shell it was, a protective coating from a tumultuous home life and the jibes and jeers of class mates. Interestingly enough, I grew a different shell, with bolder colors that stopped a lot of the teasing once I wore them with confidence. So yes, I think a leopard can change its spots.


Filed under Culture, family, fashion, home, life, memories, people

Memories:From Shyness to Being Bold

When I was a child, and much to everyone’s disbelief, I was very shy. This was a combination of a bad home life, which built insecurities and just being shy. I was teased horribly because of this, some kids picking on me because I was quiet. There are scarring memories of some of those early years.

I remember this other girl in my class with red ringlets, saddle shoes and a school uniform. In retrospect I feel sorry for those transplants from England who wore their uniforms, not realizing how they would stick out instead of blend in. Calgary in those days have very few private schools, at least in the area where we lived.

Margaret Parsons was probably shyer and more awkward than me. I took a good look at her one day and thought, if I stay the way I am I’ll be like her. Or I can change. The change was at least twofold. It involved building a harder shell about myself so the jibes of the insensitve couldn’t get through. I became a bit of a joker, and teased my friends. I almost did this too much and hurt a few feelings before I learned to temper the humor.

The first stage started happening in grade 7, which was the beginning of junior high for us. The second stage was in grade 9, the last year of junior high. I started to wear brighter colors besides soft blues and beiges, believing that if I brightened my look it would bring me out more. And in fact that’s what happened. Grade 9 was still a bit of the process of become bolder and by the end of high school I was more outgoing.

I continued this into art college. I hit a plateau for a while of being less awkward, more fashionably secure and sociable to an acceptable level. But if anyone had ever told me I would act or read anything in front of a group of people, I would have laughed and said impossible.

Eventually, as I began to write more I thought of reading my poetry. The prospect was terrifying but at a fairly small venue of the Burnaby Writers’ Society I got up and read a couple of poems. I’m sure I stammered, I turned beet red and my throat became so dry from nervousness that I actually choked on my words. But I did it, feeling mortified but also brave.

After that first leap, I continued to read. I continued to wear bright colors and today, if you ask anyone, no one would think I was ever shy. Perhaps I’m too bold in some ways but I made a conscious effort to change myself. I’m still going through that process. In fact, I think it never ends. The changes are different now and don’t involve colors as much as redecorating the interior.


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