All my life I have been shy. At times, cripplingly so. Completely frozen with fear when faced with people I didn’t know, being in a situation where I was centre of attention and I even went through a period of being terrified of eating in front of anyone, making communal boarding school eating and meals out incredibly stressful.
If I ever had to return something to a shop, I’d get my Mum to do it for me as I couldn’t make eye contact and speak to the sales assistant. I also blushed extensively. If I was nervous or anyone spoke to me, my whole face would flame and I’d be so conscious of my cheeks getting hotter and hotter and the more conscious I was of it, the worse it got until I was certain the entire street could see my glowing embarrassment.
As an adult, I was also shy, confident and loud in front of my close friends, or when I’d had a drink, but away from my safety net of friends and family, I struggled. It wasn’t until I had my children that things started to change. I was forced out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want them to suffer because of me and so I made myself to go to baby groups, to make conversation and to pretend to be someone I didn’t feel inside, hiding my blushes by pretending to look for something in the baby bag or blowing raspberries on their tummies.
The more I faked it, the easier it was and I did feel my confidence starting to grow. I had periods of severe postnatal depression and suffered after effects of birth trauma but after extensive counselling and medication, I got on top of everything and genuinely started to feel much more assertive, much more able to go out and be the person I’d always envied when I’d been stuck fast in my shy prison.
Doing this job is one where you are often on social media and can appear to be a very ‘look at me’ type. When I make videos and instagram stories, I feel nervous initially, sometimes I even start to physically shake, but I try not to think about anyone watching and just go for it. I also feel like an idiot having my photo taken and really struggle to do any of this in public, hence why I don’t do out and about videos.
I am definitely an authentic me on social media though, I think much more the real me, the one I’d love to be in the real World. In reality, although it’s a ‘look at me’ profession, I still get very very nervous when people do look at me! Going to blogging events can be terrifying and I always prefer to head straight to the safety of people I know well or lurk in the background somewhere. Some days I am fine and can cope and match up to the online persona in real life, but others I revert straight back to that shy 12 year old, hiding just behind her Mum, desperate not to be noticed, except these days, I am the Mum and have to be the one to speak up.
With the bright hair and tattoos I think I give the impression that I am confident and self assured in my own skin, but actually, I still blush fiercely sometimes when people talk to me and I am constantly awkward and saying the wrong thing and ending up tongue tied and flustered.
I’ve written extensively about my battle with anxiety and I suppose, in part this is connected to that, are anxiety and shyness just the same thing? All I know is that some days, I am the me that’s in my head and I can make conversations with perfect strangers and others, I feel awkward talking to my friends!