The other week, at the dog club where I take the pup for training, the instructor asked why we were not talking about anything when doing the mingle. (Lot of dog owners all walk in and out of each other making sure the dogs do not fight/sniff/woof and then have to come to a stop and chat to the person they are next to while the dogs settle….hopefully).
Our class was mingling well, stopping and then smiling at each other, or quietly saying hi and then conversation was over.
I put up my hand and said, ‘Perhaps we have nothing to talk about?’.
‘Not you!’ she replied laughing ‘You always have something to say!’
For just a moment I was very hurt. Was she saying I talk too much? I am too mouthy? Do I say too many things? Should I shut up? and then I realised that it was not an insult but just a fact….normally I do fill the empty spaces in a crowd with a witty retort, or a quip of some kind to make people giggle and loosen up. If I see someone struggling then I am the first one there to say hi and to point out what they should be doing. To try and help.
It never used to be that way and it has been an uphill struggle, even now, but I did it. I am now known as being an extrovert and outgoing and the one people look at when they don’t want to answer but someone has to. When did things change? When I took control of me.
For years I was the bullied one. All through school. I was beaten by past bf’s and was treated like dirt by past employers. and then, one day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, out loud to the shy, scared girl looking back, ‘Enough’.
The next time I went out I made sure to do my makeup perfectly (to make me feel good) and I smiled at one person instead of putting my head down as we walked past each other. They looked miserable and just walked on but I did it again. I smiled at someone walking past and said, very quietly, ‘Good Afternoon’
They smiled uncertainly back. The next one smiled. Another said good afternoon, and, by the time I was at my destination I was smiling for real.
That was the day it turned around.
I then chatted to people in the bus queue….the local store queue (us Brits are good at queuing). Nothing clever….you do not have to be clever I found out. Just genuine. Smile, say hi….. see something in their shopping basket and, even if you already know, say ‘I was going to try that, is it any good?’
These simple, simple beginnings lead on to a relaxation around more people and that, in turn, leads to more friendly encounters.
Not everyone will smile….they have demons of their own.
Not everyone wants to talk… that is not because of you, they just do not want to talk at the moment.
Not everyone will like you (this is a biggie that shy people must realise) but that is okay! Not everyone HAS to like you. You do not like everyone in the world either.
But, a smile is worth 1000 words to someone needing a little cheer. It leads to other things.
So when the instructor told me that I was not one to be quiet or not have something to say, I smiled at her and said, ‘why thanks!’ and meant it, and a little more shyness flaked off.