It’s Tuesday night and that means it’s craft night. I pack my latest project and head over to The House of Crafting. The house is in actual fact a time machine. As I step into the lounge room it’s like stepping into a portal – instantly I’m a nervous 15yr old, the new girl at school trying to fit in. It’s as if I have no control over myself. As the room fills up I go quiet, I stare fixedly at my needle and thread as I sew. When I do say something the words are blurted out, seeming too loud, too sudden. At one point I actually hit myself in the face as I’m explaining something! What on earth is going on?
I grew up a very shy person. One of my earliest memories is when my Gran and Pa came to visit when I was about 3 yrs old. We were living in country Victoria and they had come down from Queensland for a holiday. I remember being excited to see them, my nose pressed up against the screen door as I peered down the driveway waiting for the car. I hear the engine, the car pulls up and instant panic hits me. I turn, run and scuttle behind the couch. My poor Gran & Pa – what a welcome!
Me and Pa when they came to visit...I think it was Gran I was nervous of though.
Primary School was no different. I feel sure I saw more of the ground than the sky. I remember in Grade 6 two of my friends teasing me. One saying “Come with me to the tuckshop”, the other “No, come with me to the oval!”. Both knowing I was terrible at making decisions and I wouldn’t be able to say no to either of them. It was partly because I was shy, partly because I didn’t really care either way but also because I seem suffer the terribly debilitating condition of I Want People To Like Me.
1989 - still a bit camera shy!
Thankfully in Secondary School things finally changed. Just after my 15th Birthday we moved from country Victoria to Darwin. It was such a culture shock it may as well have been to another country. It was make or break time for me. Luckily I met another girl Fiona who was to start at the same school and we stuck together. She was experienced at moving schools and had a strategy all set out: each day at lunch we would hang out with a new group of girls and then choose the one that we liked most. It worked too, I’m still friends with those girls today. My mum wrote letters back to her friends back in Ky saying I was ‘like a rose that has blossomed’. Embarrassing but true. The shyness faded, my courage grew. I talked to strangers, did crazy teenagy things and I really did feel more like the real me.
As I got older I got much better at not being so shy. I left home at 19, moved to the other end of the country (again!) and joined a performing arts course. A mind numbingly terrifying thing for a shy person. I joined because of the dance component which got cancelled in the first week, but soldiered on and finished it with only one meltdown in the toilet. I even went onto street performing – what a buzz! Since then I’ve moved many times, changed jobs many times, travelled alone and met lots of amazing people. That 15yr old girl feels like such a long time ago and I thinks that’s why this sudden shyness at craft night has been so surprising for me – I thought those days were long passed.
Travelling India solo - a great way to get over shyness!
As for craft night, I should probably keep going. I’m sure it’s healthy for me to be out of my comfort zone now and then, character building and all that. I think the reason I feel like I do is because there’s a lot of very extroverted personalities there and it’s hard for me to deal with them all at once. I’m better one on one. I don’t know why but I’ve found I have a tendency to act like a see-saw. If I’m with people who are a bit quiet, I blab on and on and on. If I’m with loud, boisterous personalities I tend to retreat into my shell.
At least my daughter doesn’t appear to be affected by shyness, what a chatterbox she is – no idea where she gets it from!