Kids with Shyness in America
Many people in America suffer from some form of shyness. Shyness is modesty or diffidence resulting from a lack of self confidence, and often times it can hinder one's social abilities. Children and adults alike suffer from shyness, and in some cases it can lead to social anxiety, a more extreme form of shyness. Shyness can lead to extra stress in a person's life, because they are always worrying about what other people say about them. But what does it really mean to be diffident in today's society?
Adults: Do They Really Understand?
Sometimes adults can look down on children, assuming that when the child has a problem it is just the child acting up or an exaggeration of a much smaller problem. So when a child is too scared to speak up in front of a class or another social setting, the parent or adult tries to push them to do this. For children with shyness, this is very hard and frustrating because they aren't being understood when they say they can't do it. "Approximately 15 to 20% of newborns may be quiet, vigilant, and restrained in new situations." (Howard S. Friedman). This means that shyness can be developed at a very early age, so when a child says they are too shy to do something they usually mean it. Adults don't trust that children know what's best for themselves, but sometimes trying to intervene can make it worse, making the child feel like what they are doing and how they feel is wrong, sometimes making them sink further into their shell.
What Does Society Think of Shy People?
You may believe that there aren't very many people in society who are shy, but actually about 48% of people are considered shy or have social anxiety. Our society today thrives on social interaction, and when you are lacking in that department you are considered weird and people dislike to interact with you. "In a culture where everybody loves a winner, shyness is like entering a foot race with lead insoles." (Bernardo Carducci). When you lack social skills that most everyone else has, it is hard to fit in. What makes it even harder is that our society likes to think that when people differ from the norm it automatically makes them worse or below themselves. When you're shy, you're always worrying about what other people think of you, and not what you should be worrying about. People without shyness usually don't understand people with shyness, often times saying 'why don't you just go talk to people?' or 'Just go do it, you won't die'. The problem is, if the person didn't have shyness these things would seem trivial and easy, but your brain is constantly over thinking and over analyzing the situation and it freaks you out to a point you can't even do those simple things.
How Your Peers Perceive Shyness
In a school setting, shyness will prevail. School is a place where you meet the friends you may hold on to for the rest of your life, so of course it will also be a setting full of stress and shyness. When you are shy, you most likely have only a small amount, if any, of friends because you may be too scared to make more or you put off an unintentional vibe of not wanting to talk to anyone. You can be labeled as weird or quiet when you don't interact with a lot of people, only adding on to the pressure of making friends and speaking up in class or other social situations. The truth is, people really don't care all that much about how you look, all that matters to them is how you act, so if you act shy you will not make as many friends as you would if you were an extrovert. The problem with this theory is it doesn't matter to the person with shyness that others don't care, because their brain tells them that everyone is watching and judging them which causes them to become even more shy.
In The End: What Can you do?
The truth is, the only way you can fix your problem is to face it head on. Nobody says it will be easy, and no one will say you wont have to work hard for it, but in the end if you really want this you will achieve your goals. Take things one step at a time, like going to that party you were invited to, or striking up a conversation with a person that seems nice. So, next time you meet someone who seems shy, go up to them and try to start a conversation. Who knows? you may meet a friend for life if you just put yourself on the line.