From the Mouth of a Closet Introvert by Greetings from the Hotel Bassemonte

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From the Mouth of a Closet Introvert by Greetings from the Hotel Bassemonte


Hello. My name is Megan, and I’m a recovering shy kid.

It’s not easy being shy. People say dumb things to you like, “Cat got your tongue?” only making you more self-conscious and less able to talk.  Once in middle school a cute boy said to me in front of a group, “You’re so shy, why don’t you say something?” He might as well have super-glued my lips right there.

While not telethon-worthy, shyness is a disability: you desperately want to say something, but you physically can’t.  The more you try to talk, the harder it becomes, and the more likely something awkward will come out.

It’s like the Dirty Dancing scene when Johnny asks what Baby is doing at the staff party and Baby volunteers, “I carried a watermelon” then cringes and mutters to herself, “I carried a watermelon?”

I have carried so many proverbial watermelons that “Awkward” should be my middle name.  Don’t believe me? Just watch me on a dance floor – I make Seinfeld’s Elaine look like she could win Dancing with the Stars. And I’m an expert Awkward Hug giver.

You could call me an extroverted introvert, or an introverted extrovert.  I love being the center of attention when I’m among good friends, and I clearly have a lot to say judging from my Facebook pages and blog.  However, I’m horrible at small talk with strangers – the most stressful part of getting a haircut is chatting with the stylist; “networking” makes me nauseous; and I barely say a peep when I’m in a group of socially-confident people.

Neither a wallflower nor a social butterfly, I must be some other garden denizen – perhaps a snail hiding in her protective shell?

Fortunately, with the help of my friends, a sense of humor, and determination, I have learned to overcome my disability and come out of my shell more easily.

I’m still shy, I’ve just gotten better at faking it.

Growing up I could count my friends on both my hands (okay, one hand). I could also count on them for anything and I still count them as friends today.  Their continued encouragement and laughter taught me that I’m worth being heard.

And I have learned to own my awkwardness over time. At a dance party, you will find me in the middle of the dance floor doing a clumsy attempt at the “Running Man” with my legs while simultaneously doing the “Sprinkler” dance with my arms. It’s a signature move I call the “Running Through the Sprinkler Man.”  My armor of self-deprecating humor protects me from ridicule: you can’t hurt me if I made fun of myself first.

Most importantly, I have learned that to overcome shyness, you must face your fears and put yourself in uncomfortable situations.  With that in mind, I take a deep breath, clench my butt-cheeks tightly (you can’t clench your teeth if you’re trying to speak), and ask my hairdresser about her weekend plans.  At parties I’ll hover awkwardly around a group of strangers, laugh when they laugh, and wait for an introduction to join in.

I said I was getting better, I didn’t say I was Rico Suave.

My daughters are shy too. It breaks my heart when one of them buries her face in my pants leg when an adult says hi, or keeps a vise-like grip on my hand and begs me to take her home when I try to drop her off at a party.  When I see my daughters struggling with their shyness, I want to spare them their pain and discomfort – I want to carry their watermelons for them. But I know that they will grow into their awkward skin only after they learn the same lessons I did:

  • Having a few true friends is better than an army of fair-weather friends.
  • Embracing your awkward self is much more fun than worrying about it.
  • Everybody is a little bit awkward and a lot embarrassed sometimes.
  • Quiet doesn’t mean boring. Find outlets to express your unique self.
  • Don’t pay attention to labels. If you think you are shy you will be shy. I’m neither a true introvert nor a true extrovert – I exhibit tendencies of both.  But what does it matter which one I am anyway?

And finally, keep carrying those watermelons. Someday a hot dance instructor – or in my case, a charming business school classmate – will find your awkwardness alluring and sweep you off your clumsy feet.


ABOUT MEGAN: Originally a shy girl from New Jersey, Megan has found her voice blogging at Greetings from the Hotel Bassemonte, a family humor blog about the life of three sassy young girls and their disorganized mother, and all of the trouble they get into together. “The Hotel Bassemonte” is an affectionate codename for her basement guestroom, which is where she often escapes from her children to enjoy a full night’s sleep. Megan earned her MBA in 2002 and has spent half her time since then pushing potato chips and pumpkin spice lattes at two multi-national corporations, and half her time pushing strollers and swings as a stay-at-home mom.

Megan currently lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, three daughters ages 8, 6, and 3, and their token boy: a 4-year-old Basset Hound named Bo.

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This post was written by Megan exclusively for Bonbon Break Media, LLC