Why Shyness Sucks

I was a shy kid growing up.

Always the quiet kid in class, the reader.  Had a close group of friends, but was never the dynamic center of attention.  But the truth was, I always wanted to be.  My inner attention whore was trapped behind that shy façade, waiting to break out.

It took a while.

Till college, actually.  I remember the exact moment it happened.  I was in my dorm room, and my family had just left.  I was alone in a new state, in a new city, for the first time.  It was daunting to say the least.  There was a sense of loneliness that was deep, and profound, and yawned like a massive abyss.

And then, there was a knock on the door.

I hesitated for a moment, and then yelled out “Come in.”  The door opened and there was a group of people out there, crowding the hall, all looking in at me.  At the front of the crowd, there was this pretty red-headed girl.  I remember thinking that her presence lent a certain Charlie Brown-esque gravitas to the situation.

“Hi,” she said.  We’re going door to door, meeting people in the dorm.  You want to come with?”

And there it was.  The moment of truth.  It hit me, in head and heart at the same time, that if I answered no, if I allowed myself to do what felt normal and comfortable to me, then that abyss of loneliness would swallow me right up.  I would just disappear.  So in that moment, I made the conscious decision to smile and say yes, and then got up and joined the welcome wagon.  It was simple, but it was powerful.

That choice led to more choices.  My dad has always been involved with summer camps, and I remember him mentioning once that one of the great thing about kids going to camp is that they can leave behind the person they had become at school, and try on someone different.  Be someone different.  This was that same idea on a grander scale.  So, I decided that shy Mark could get put away for a while.  I reached out to people.  I made friends.  I discovered theater, where I learned the most powerful lesson of my life:  when you control the attention, you don’t fear it.

And I turned myself into the person I had always wanted to be.

Now, as Joe and I are getting our writing off the ground, and are dealing with things like “social media” and “platform” and such, I realize that it is the same situation, all over again.  If I want people to see our work, I can’t sit in the dorm room, holding onto the stories.  I have to get out there, share parts of myself, and have some fun doing it.

So that’s some of what you will see here.  We’ll talk about our writing, and our lives, and what we are into.  And I’m excited to do that.

Because its more fun to do things with people.

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