Confidence essential to reach potential

New kid in town

When Alexis Hamill was in second grade, she moved to a new school where she would stay inside from lunch and literally count beans five days a week.

While this was boring, she was more than happy to do it because it meant she didn’t have to go to recess.

“Recess meant socializing with people or standing there by myself,” Hamill said.

Hamill was very shy during her childhood, and her teachers often could not tell if she understood their material because she was so quiet. Bean counting was a way for her to demonstrate her mastery of the material.

Soon her teacher realized she needed to go outside and socialize, which Hamill dreaded.

“It was painful and scary, but it ended up being exactly what I needed to do.”

By being pushed into the new social situation, Hamill ended up making her first friends, a group of girls who enjoyed the task of showing the “new girl” around.

Share yourself

Now a clinical psychology graduate student and a counselor at Bowling Green State University’s Counseling Center, Hamill recognizes the importance of social confidence.

“When you’re shy, it’s hard to share yourself,” she said. “Then the world misses out, because you’re not confident enough to express your opinions and share your views.”

Chaz Ludwig, a former Telecommunications student at BGSU, said the world is a “cutthroat” place and speaking up is necessary to get ahead.

“People who don’t exalt themselves are not going to accomplish the things they want to accomplish,” Ludwig said. “People are left behind, and that’s unfortunate.”

Hamill and Ludwig said social confidence is especially crucial to landing jobs, and Hamill commented that showing discomfort in a job interview is contagious.

“If you’re not able to express who you are to somebody who doesn’t really know you, and is judging you … you’re probably not going to get the job,” Hamill said. “Have confidence to say: ‘Here’s a bit of who I am.’”

Ludwig said the best way to deal with social awkwardness is assuming responsibility to improve, because society at large does what it can by simply letting people exist in it.

“Society is not a broom,” Ludwig said. “It’s not going to sweep you into a pan and let you be OK.”

Get comfortable

Walker Reynolds, an English major at the university, said lots of people would describe themselves as shy and views it as an early stage of development.

He added that people are usually only shy in situations where they are uncomfortable.

“They can usually interact, at least minimally,” Reynolds said.

Hamill said that most people are shy in at least one aspect of their lives, whether it is in front of potential romantic partners or giving a public speech.

“People can relate to shyness if they put themselves in certain situations,” she said.

Ludwig used to be somewhat shy and a chronic worrier. One way he has dealt with this is taking advantage of his job at Video Spectrum, a local rental outlet.

“I do like talking to people, especially about movies,” he said.

By playing to a common interest, Ludwig has been able to talk comfortably with people who often come into the store for its friendly atmosphere and conversation potential.

By focusing on one’s strengths and positive attributes, Hamill said it is much easier for people to gain confidence.

And even when people don’t respond in the desired way, it is important to stay positive.

“A lot of that is out of our control, because a social interaction involves you and another person,” Hamill said. “You can’t control what they’re going to do.”

Hamill encourages people to just try talking, because that is something everyone can control about themselves.

“If it all bombs, that may happen sometimes,” she said. “But you’ve done what you set out to do, you’ve met your goal, and that’s still a success because you took that risk in talking to somebody.”

Take initiative

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ABOVE: Max Filby, the summer editor-in-chief of The BG News, plans stories for the next paper.

MaxFilbyInterview by waddler-1

One of the other interviews I conducted was with Max Filby, a longtime newspaper reporter at the high school and collegiate level. This summer, he decided to lead BGSU’s newspaper by becoming its editor-in-chief. In this interview, Filby describes how the job of reporting and leading an entire staff requires people to be comfortable in their own skin and have confidence, even when uncomfortable situations arise.

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Shyness can yield passion

Remember my second post, the one where I wrote about Bruce Springsteen coming to life on stage and conquering his shyness?

This week, I’ve decided to write about an artist who is still shy, but maintains passion for his craft and what he does: Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist from Rush, my favorite band.

Peart is widely regarded to be one of rock’s most dynamic drummers, and his lyrics reflect the mind of someone highly read and quite introspective.

Living in the limelight
While Peart’s bandmates, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, are more than willing to talk to fans on the street and before concerts, Peart prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

“I was the world’s biggest Who fan as a kid,” Peart said in a recent documentary. “I never dreamed of finding their hotel and knocking on their door or interfering in their lives in any way.

“I love being appreciated, being respected is awfully good, but anything beyond that just creeps me out,” he continued. “Any sense of adulation is just so wrong.”

This led him to write “Limelight,” a song dealing with his newfound fame following the release of the seminal 1981 album, Moving Pictures.

Singer/songwriter Kim Mitchell from fellow Canadian band Max Webster commented on the poignancy of the song’s lyrics in the documentary.

“His line, ‘I can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend,’ that’s Neil,” Mitchell said.

Precision powered living
Going back to my post on eye contact, Peart’s aloof demeanor has been mistaken for arrogance and disdain for the fans that helped fuel his career.

“When people have a fantasy, I don’t want to trample on it, but I also don’t want to live it,” Peart said. “People can think that I’m antisocial or a sourpuss, but (I’m) really not. It doesn’t make me mad, it embarrasses me.”

To me, there has never been a truer statement.

Watching Peart’s interviews in the documentary and his interactions with his bandmates shows he is very enthusiastic and cheerful in a comfortable setting.

What sets him (and many introverts) apart is his level of focus on everything he is doing, particularly his drumming. It is known for being extremely precise and intense.

Talking to new and random people, on the other hand, requires a certain kind of spontaneity that no level of concentration can prepare for. It often requires you to be loose and not over-think.

People that have to focus intensely on everything they do are usually caught off guard and thrown off when something unexpected happens.

As one of these people, I feel unprepared in these situations, so I tend to avoid them. I clam up whenever someone unfamiliar is around.

However, when I get to know someone (certainly a task) I ease up and feel like I value the relationship more for the effort invested in it.

While this blog is dedicated to helping people step out of their shells, there is something to be valued from a shy demeanor as well.

I believe Peart certainly could not have become the drummer he is without his more reserved, yet intense personality.

The same goes for everyone else. Shyness is only a personality trait; it does not define our entire personality, but it is certainly a key component in our strengths as well as shortcomings.

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Say ‘cheese’: Interview with BG News photographer Byron Mack

The field of journalism is changing, and that requires people who are used to writing to take up photography and amateur filmmaking.

When I tried to cover my first photography story at BGSU’s Dance Marathon, it was a disaster. Taking people’s pictures and approaching them for permission just felt weird.

Naturally, I felt like this would be a great thing to discuss with a more experienced photographer, and BG News photographer Byron Mack was kind enough to offer his insight as I followed him to the Resident Student Association’s Pancake Bash.

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A simple greeting can change everything

Myspace Smile Graphics Quotes

Myspace Quotes Graphics

Image provided by quotesarcade.com

Be happy
Right now, I am taking an English Literature course as part of my required general education requirements.

I put it off until my junior year because even though I am good with words (I have to be as a journalism major), I don’t like reading old stories. Quite often, they are written in an older style that makes me spend more time decoding a foreign language than figuring out the meaning of the story.

This class turned out to be different.

While we still had to read Shakespeare, the teacher made it a point for us to relate older stories to newer readings and illustrate how these stories relate to our current everyday lives in the way they are retold throughout the years.

One of the newer stories was a 2003 article about suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge.

One victim caught my attention, and it was because of the note he left for his family.

In it, he said that if just one person smiled at him on his walk to the bridge, he would not jump.

Unfortunately, this note was discovered after his death, and it made me think about the way I treat strangers as I walk down the street.

For one, I always thought it was strange to acknowledge people that I did not know, and I often avoid making eye contact as I go to class.

However, that does not mean that I don’t want to acknowledge people–in fact, I love it when people acknowledge me, so why would anyone else be any different?

This website wrote that people would much rather look at the street or at billboards than make eye contact with someone on their walk. It attributes this to poor self-confidence.

I agree.

We don’t need to go so far as to say “Hi!” to everyone we see, because that would get a little repetitive and robotic. Instead, eye contact should suffice, and if you’re really feeling happy, smile.

The simple act of smiling has numerous health benefits, including stress relief and the release of endorphins, which always brings pleasure.

Smiling also brings social benefits as well, because it usually tends to affect everyone else in the area. It’s always intriguing to wonder about why someone else is smiling, and it draws people in. It’s certainly better than looking angry, because people usually want to let an angry person be alone to deal with their issues.

You never know, your smile could be that one thing that turns someone’s worst day into their best.

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BG News writer shares experience with shyness

BobbyRyanInterview by waddler-1

As I worked at The BG News, I noticed that a lot of the people there were very fun and relaxed to be around, including the assistant sports editor, Ryan Satkowiak.
However, as I began to discuss the blog, I learned that Satkowiak was a bit shy five years ago, something I never would have guessed because he never seemed to have trouble offering a good joke or insight to conversations.
In this recording, he tells us how he made a few changes to help himself adjust in a college setting.

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Mapping a trail


View My loose trail in a larger map

This is a map of all the places I frequent as I take walks around Bowling Green. Many places are good just to blow off steam and collect myself, like Dairy Queen. Others, such as the downtown area, offer good places to meet people and go out with a group of close friends.

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Take a walk and cool down

Being shy can be very frustrating, especially if you have an intense personality and your emotions often get the best of you.

I belong in this category, as I have always been short-tempered. Whenever I get angry, I feel an intense urge to throw things, knock things down and scream.

Ultimately, I just need to move.

This is where taking a nice walk helps me. It not only allows me to blow off the energy of the day, but it also allows me to think about my situation and do some other things as well.

There are obvious physical benefits to walking such as weight loss. However, this website also states that walking allows the heart to work more efficiently, allowing for oxygen to travel much easier through the body.

This added oxygen relaxes muscles and the brain, allowing for stress and negative thoughts to be reduced, and the release of endorphins make it possible for happy thoughts to overtake negative ones.

Most importantly, walking gives me time to think about the events of the day and put them in perspective while providing a pleasant outdoor breeze and scent, getting those endorphins going.

The campus at Bowling Green State University offers some great sights to take in, particularly during the evening. There is nothing better than heading out to the track out by Doyt-Perry Stadium (particularly when I am in the mood for a run) on a spring evening. The openness of the field and its proximity to the freeway gives me a sense of ease, particularly hearing the gentle roar of the cars going by.

However, sometimes there are places that I am able to stop and chat with people, because I often get hungry and wander into a store, and it is here that I usually run into people I know, and I am able to talk to them about my day.

And, you never know, you might run into someone new somehow.

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They call me the working man

Get a job.

That’s the best advice I received in my college career—because if I wanted to open myself up, it was going to take some extra work.

What better way to open yourself up than to do it over a common interest? People always told me that talking to people in your classes (particularly your major) is a good way to broaden your network.

Not true, at least for me. What am I going to say? How about that test? That assignment? That’s boring.

Instead, I came to work for The BG News (I’m a journalism major).

Slowly but surely, I am gaining both work and social experience by copy editing the paper on select days and contributing an occasional story.

By showing off my skills and offering ideas to the paper, I am able to put a piece of my personality out through my writing. Since it is my top talent, people in the newsroom notice me, thus defeating my invisibility.

As for social awkwardness, that doesn’t go away quickly. However, by coming in enough days and listening to enough conversations, I was able to grasp the work dynamic.

Soon enough, I would crack a joke or offer my two cents on a topic. I actually managed to make people laugh.

Naturally, this is because I waited for a topic to come along that I could comfortably talk about. I’m aware that many of you are tired of waiting, and would rather take action.

Me too.

But the thing is, I have. By taking on an extracurricular activity, I have placed myself into a group that allowed for more opportunities.

One of my biggest problems was avoiding extra work in addition to school—I was afraid it would mess with my sanity.

My advice would be to start small—turning in an article each week was daunting (because I am a perfectionist, which no doubt contributes to my shyness), so I found hourly work by checking the paper for mistakes instead.

The key is to know your strengths, capitalize on them, and slowly build the relationships.

They have developed faster than I thought.

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Charismatic resident adviser offers tips to conquer shyness

People person

For Zack Manor, being a resident adviser in Bowling Green State University’s Offenhauer residence hall requires a lot of people skills.

He can excel at his numerous administrative tasks, but his ability to connect with his residents makes him stand out among his peers.

Manor’s fellow adviser Adam Kaverman said he has great rapport with his residents, and fellow adviser Ashley Pace said that he makes normally boring staff duties enjoyable.

Kate Wiggeringloh, another fellow adviser, said she is inspired by the “new enthusiasm” he brings to the job, which helps her get through her own busy day.

“When I wake up in the morning and I have all these administrative duties to do, I am kind of drudging through it,” Wiggeringloh said. “I run into Zack, and he is high-fiving his residents, he is smiling and laughing with them, and he has inside jokes with them.”

Upon graduating this year, Manor has plans to become a civil rights attorney, something he finds to be sort of a role-reversal because he used to be really shy.

“I never really had a voice growing up because I was so shy, and I never really wanted to make myself heard,” Manor said. “I want to be the voice for people who can’t be heard, people who want to be heard but just don’t have the outlet for it.”

Thrust into the spotlight

Manor separates his shyness from his advising role to help develop his authority.

“It’s more like a performance,” Manor said. “When conducting a floor meeting or doing a program, you set it up, so you have to be comfortable doing it. It’s not like you’re thrown into a situation where you’re not comfortable with the environment.”

Manor’s shyness developed in middle school, where there were more students and more responsibility for him to make friends.

He believes there are positive aspects to being shy, such as speaking only when he had something important to say.

“It helped me figure out my own sort of inner monologue and develop my thoughts more clearly so I wouldn’t be so nervous about expressing them out loud,” he said.

Eighty percent of the time Manor didn’t mind his shyness, as it left him time to do his work without distractions.

This didn’t come without a price.

“Any distractions that I had were welcome ones, and things that I wanted to do for myself,” he said. “At other points I would feel like I was missing out on … some great secret in life that everybody else sort of understood.”

Eventually, he was “thrust” out of his shell by taking on more responsibilities. When he joined hall council in his sophomore year of college, his peers convinced him to run for president.

“That was the very beginning of me learning to accept these roles that people are going to give you at some points,” he said. “Absolutely making myself uncomfortable sometimes [just] works.”

While he won the presidency, he said the campaign made it worthwhile. By introducing himself to people and putting up posters, he was able to perform his number one tip for meeting people:

“Put yourself out there.”

This places responsibility on the individual to solve the shyness problem, and Manor said that he has to wait for the person to come to him for advice—he does not actively coax people from their shells.

“If a person is shy, then I don’t think they’ll be very receptive to me getting all up in their faces and saying: ‘Hey, what’s up? Why aren’t you ever talking to anybody?”

This doesn’t stop him from encouraging people to socialize, however. He said he had a resident that didn’t seem to talk to people—so every time he sees him, he asks him about his day and introduces him to people who walk by.

He also encourages people to take advantage of the college atmosphere.

“There’s no lack of people,” he said. “Sometimes all it takes is going to the Union and sitting down next to someone you don’t really know, and you can make the excuse that there are no other seats.

“Before you know it, you may actually be talking to them.”

 

 

 

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Party hard!

Last year, I never considered going to parties would be an option for meeting people. I thought that all it could bring me was trouble, including dumb drunken antics and puke-stained clothing. Seeing as I am a major emetophobe (I cannot even look at vomit without running in terror), the idea of a college party was repulsive.

Worst of all, massive gatherings of people are intimidating. When there are too many people, it is a challenge to make yourself stand out. When there aren’t a lot of people, it makes me stand out like a sore thumb because I don’t really know anyone, and my nervousness shows.

To make a long story short, I now attend parties.

Why? Because last year, I never did, and I didn’t meet people that way either.

The key to making a party a success is your attitude. All of the pitfalls I listed above are simply stereotypes and fears. Most of the time, these fears are unfounded. Other times, it just feels good to face your fear and throw chance to the wind.

So, what does a mild-mannered, methodical guy like me do to prepare for a party? Well, I checked out this website, http://zenhabits.net/eight-essential-tips-to-overcoming-shyness-and-making-a-good-impression/, and took its advice.

The most important step on the site is introduce yourself, because I have learned that standing by myself reveals my fearful and pessimistic attitude. Find yourself a comfortable chair, preferably next to people who look like they could provide a good conversation, and get comfortable yourself. If the conversation seems appealing, join in.

Even if there isn’t a conversation going on, start one up yourself. I have made many friends just by sitting down in a comfortable seat, and asking the people next to me how they were doing. This can spark a conversation about why everyone came to the party, and it is often revealed that we have mutual acquaintances, allowing for endless conversation possibilities.

My favorite tip on the website, though, is “Ask more, talk less.” It states that people love talking about themselves. This is true—who do you know better than yourself? This is another great way to keep conversations going, and it can allow you to show your generous side.

Soon enough, you may be asked questions. Don’t oversell yourself—another website rule—but just answer honestly.

If the conversation keeps going, then you have probably made a new friend.

Now let’s party!

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Yes Eye Can

Human Eye Wallpaper

Image provided by intrepid.com
Now comes time to address the most challenging part of body language—at least in my eyes.

That’s right, it’s time for the dreaded eye contact.

It is popular to say that eyes are the window into the soul. I agree with this wholeheartedly—it’s the number one reason why eye contact is so difficult, but absolutely crucial to making friends.

This is because looking someone in the eye shows that you are interested in what they have to say. When you constantly look away from someone because you are too embarrassed, it can send mixed messages, the worst being that you are so disinterested that you make a concerted effort to look away.

For shy people, this isn’t true, we are interested. However, it doesn’t make us an exception to the rules.

In my case, I often feel weird when I look into someone’s eyes, and this is because I have a habit of staring—I’m an intensely focused human being. WikiHow.com writes that this can also make you appear to be trying too hard or even like a creepy stalker.

This isn’t exactly encouraging, because those are the reasons I have a hard time looking into someone’s eyes—I fear that I will give someone the wrong impression with my fixed gaze.

However, by looking away, I am also giving people the wrong impression while shutting down any possibility of communication. If you don’t work on it, it’s going to be a lose-lose situation.

This is why I have begun to focus on other body communication that can help my eye contact. One key is to just pay attention to what someone is saying and act naturally according to your interest. If it’s a happy topic, smile. Smiling and nodding are perfectly natural things to do when having a conversation, and it is better than having a blank, wide-eyed stare (which I used to have).

As far as initiating conversation goes, don’t try to look away when someone makes eye contact with you. Smile instead. It’s not weird and it’s not creepy, especially at a party if you want to talk to someone.

Remember, if you look like you don’t want to be spoken to, no one will talk to you. On the other hand, if you project a positive, happy demeanor, it can be contagious.

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Fun slideshow with my amateur photos

I put together this slideshow to help illustrate good body language and positive invitation. It largely details my effort to correct my posture and my blank stare, along with detailing the power of greeting people in everyday settings. Having a pleasant demeanor in my day-to-day activities often helps my mood, as a simple smile makes me feel appreciated.

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Body language: a blurb on posture

before and after posture improvement

Image provided by footsolutions.com.

“Stand up straight!” That’s one of things I was always told as I gradually entered adolescence, and it was an order that I always ignored.

A few years ago, however, I began to care.

In elementary school, I already knew that I was a little shy, but it had not yet turned into a major problem. When you’re in the same class as 30 other kids for six years, you naturally build a rapport with them whether you want to or not.

Second, slouching was not an indicator of self-esteem: I did it for comfort purposes. Whenever I was in school, I would slouch in my chair and enjoy the teacher’s lecture in a comfortable and more relaxed manner. It was great!

Then came junior high and high school, when you need to take it upon yourself to meet people.

I wasn’t too bad at it—most of my friends from elementary school ran with very different crowds, and I met many people through them. However, it came to the point that I wanted to branch out and meet completely new people, and I began to look inward at why approaching new people was difficult.

One reason is that a slouched back is not particularly inviting, and unfortunately, it’s not very healthy on your body’s organs, spine and bones, according to this website.

Most importantly, the website states that good posture helps you look more confident. I most certainly agree with that.

First, carrying yourself with a straight posture indeed takes more work if you’re used to slouching. However, your less than enthusiastic slouching appearance can lead people to believe that if you are unenthusiastic about standing, you might not be passionate about anything.

Second, you just feel more confident when you stand up straight—for me, it’s simply because I’m taller and I feel added purpose from the challenge. People (particularly in job interviews) like to see someone carry himself/herself with poise, because it is an indicator of someone who will be lively and fun to work/socialize with.

While I do not think my previously poor posture made me shy or is necessarily linked to my confidence level, the amount of outside recognition I received for improving my posture inadvertently made me feel better about myself because I knew I wasn’t scaring anyone away.

The goal now is to be more inviting, and the pictures I am going to post will inevitably show how good posture is just naturally more appealing.

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‘Shyness is a choice’

Before I even created this blog, my biggest vow for the semester was to come out of my shell—a thought that consumed my mind far more than my classes. On the very last day of winter break, the idea came to me to combine the two priorities and have them feed off of each other, so I signed up for a one-credit hour class called Tension Management: Peak Performance.

It turned out to be my best decision made during the semester.

While it is listed as a Physical Education class because of brief exercises done at the end of each session to help the mind get into a relaxed state, much of the work is done inside and outside the classroom through introspective assignments that allow you to write about your perceived strengths and weaknesses. For this writer, this was a godsend.

The reason I am adding this to the blog, however, is due to a firm belief expressed by the teacher during Tuesday’s class: Shyness is not an affliction, but a choice.

I can see both arguments, while leaning toward my teacher’s opinion. I would definitely say some people are more prone to shyness than others, as some people develop more passive personality types. However, I would also say that many of my actions that would label me a “shy” person come from very conscious fears that I need to deal with.

As a young child, I had a very big mouth and tended to say whatever I wanted. Once I realized I could hurt people’s feelings this way, I took things too far in the other direction and thought too much about what I wanted to say. I looked at every conceivable way a friendly hello could be taken—it could be taken as too strong of a greeting if I’ve never met the person before, so I wouldn’t say anything.

However, one of the biggest lessons emphasized in the class is to not tell yourself that “you will” do something. Rather, say that “you are.” I, personally, am someone who simply acts natural around everyone, and I do not worry much about subtext. If people misread my actions, it is their loss. If they don’t, then we both win.

As long as we are happy with who we are, it should not matter what other people think if we know our own intentions.

What do you think?

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Featured Celebrity: Bruce Springsteen

A few years ago, I received a Christmas present from my mother, The Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook by Hank Bordowitz. It was an engaging read, not only because Springsteen is one of the most successful rock stars in the country, but also because the book described his awkward childhood and adolescence. In high school, he was described as a quiet guy who didn’t really stand out. However, he was passionate about his love of rock and roll, and he spent most of his days practicing his guitar. Soon enough, Springsteen’s abilities began to garner him a reputation for performing. One of his friends said that putting him on stage was like plugging him in. He “lit up.”

Check out this video to see what he eventually grew into, and realize that you too can find a literal “outlet” for your passions.

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Welcome!

Hello! My name is Bobby Waddle, as you may have already read on the about the author section of this blog. However, I imagine the reason you probably stumbled upon this page was a Web search on the subject of shyness. As a very shy person myself, I can honestly say that I have no trouble expressing my thoughts on paper for everyone to read. As an aspiring journalist, writing is one of my strengths.

That is the main point of this blog. While it can often be frustrating and sometimes miserable to be shy, we all have strengths to be proud of that shyness can even enhance.

Think about it. By staying quiet all day and keeping my thoughts inside, it makes me eager to get them out. Since I am good with words, it makes me more patient when I consider what I will say later on, especially when I type them. I often get compliments for my eloquence.

The problem with this is even though I am complimented for most of the things I say, I don’t say very much.

While I can blather for hours on end to a computer monitor, I often clam up whenever I come across someone I do not know very well. I often cannot say anything or even look the person in the eye, and I wonder how other people can do it with such ease. When I’m told by some people that it’s not easy, I just have to wonder how they make it look so natural.

This is often because I am always afraid that I will look weird walking up to a stranger and speaking first. I feel comfortable typing on this blog because you clicked on it first, giving me a reason to open my mouth (or type away, if you will).

Here is what I propose. Since all of us are looking for a way to open up a bit more, I figured I would put my journalistic skills to good use and interview psychiatric professionals and even the average citizen about getting through the busy social world of college. Subjects that you can expect to have covered include:

Eye Contact
Body Language (big one!)
How to act at parties
Where to seek help
Testimonials from other shy people
…and more to come! Happy Reading!

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