The social disease called shyness

What is shyness?

“Shyness is a psychological reaction that a surprisingly large number of people experience when they imagine others are evaluating them—and they assume the worst. At the core of shyness is a fear of being rejected, not being worthy of being liked or loved.”

The Oxford English Dictionary reports the world’s earliest recorded use of the term shyness was in an Anglo Saxon poem written around 1000 A.D. Then, it meant “easily frightened.” Webster’s currently defines shyness as “uncomfortable in the presence of others.”

“According to developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard University, up to a third of shy adults were born with a temperament that inclined them to it. The team has been able to identify shyness in young infants before environmental conditions make an impact.”


I have seen tee-shirts–“I am a Princess”, and, “I am a Prince”. “Her highness.” Or, “His highness.”

I was “his shyness”.

Uncomfortable, easily frightened, blushing. Ears and face red: fiery hot.
Butterflies, rapid pulse, looking for a hiding place. Needing a restroom.

Fearing rejection, wanting to crawl into a hole. But, none to be found.
Holes created by avoidance and refusal. Not for lack of want, but fear.

Fear, of being unwanted. Fear of disapproval and rejection.
Hidden so well that others did not see or know. Awful. Painful.

Research suggests genes. Curses! Like standing on stage, spot lights blazing.
Wanting to escape and nowhere to hide. Oh, the discomfort inherited.

My dad was shy. My son was shy. My grandson is shy. Genes.
Over-come-able; with risk and determination. By exposure, like flooding.

A kind of psychological waterboarding. Awful, yet necessary.
Thankfully over-come-able, leaving vestiges of sensitivity that grow grace.
Richard L. Brewer



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