Hayley Webster writes:
That’s what shyness felt like, a shift in who I felt I was, from pride, self-knowledge to something else. Shame. Shame in happily inhabiting as much space as I did, like the first time you see yourself in a photo and you don’t look the way you thought you did, and you have that choice: be happy with that person in the photo, or change.
At seven I was abused by someone. It started off with playing a game; a game I thought I was winning. My dad had taught me to win. I remember the feeling of “I’m winning!” and the shift, the realisation I’d been tricked, that I was falling into something I didn’t understand. My parents, for reasons I’m sure made sense at the time, dealt with it inadequately. They had my long hair cut off. I was put into trousers and sweatshirts. I was told never to tell anyone about it. I was to become invisible, responsible for what had happened, and to be silent. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that after that, most of who I was became interior. Don’t be noticed. Don’t win. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t embarrass us. (…)
I am better with people now. I notice that. I wonder how many people who I have known in my life, personally or professionally, thought I was arrogant, rude, or unreliable because I was frozen with the fear that comes with shyness. How many times has my finger hovered over a button, unable to make a phone call? I still find phone calls hard, but I make myself do them. The alternative is loss, regret, a side effect of shyness I’ve only recently acknowledged. It’s changing.