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April 1976

Shy?

Why do we worry too much about what others may think of us?

FROM EARLY childhood, as far back as I can remember, I was shy. When I walked into a crowded room, I was too shook up to see individual people. Most of the time, I couldn't think of a thing to say in a small-talk situation. And heaven forbid that I should ever have to get up in front of a group, except sometimes in a play; but then I was somebody else.

When I became chronologically an adult, I still had to put my head down, or pretend I was reading something, making believe I didn't see a person I couldn't face talking to. I had to procrastinate phoning because I didn't know how to explain who I was, and surely they wouldn't remember me.

Since I had not grown out of this shyness when I came into the AA program, I could not walk into a room of strangers, go up to somebody, and introduce myself. I could not telephone anyone--even someone who had asked me to call--and I would never, ever be able to get up and speak. But I had to learn to do all those things, even though it was hard.

And then came the day when I laughed and laughed. The joke was on me, because all of a sudden a truth shot into my head, kerplunk: Shyness is pride.

Shyness is nothing more than self-centered fears, of what others think or might think about us. And that pretty much takes care of that defect for me, because there's something I can do about it now: forget it; laugh at myself. I still have to push myself sometimes, still fall back into old familiar patterns, but less and less. I'm a reserved person by nature, perhaps by preference; but I'm rarely shy now. I can walk Into a room of strangers, even get up and speak, and as long as I don't concentrate on me, I'm okay.

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