Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Overcome by Shyness... Press 7 to Delete This Message

The following is a quote from Shakespeare’s  Hamlet:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I am a filterer.  I take into consideration other’s feelings and I am careful about what I say.  By that I mean I think before I speak. 
Sometimes, though,  I would love to be candid and respond by “mine own true self" to those whose filters have clearly become clogged.  On the other hand, giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it is just that they have basked too long in the bliss of their ignorance and their filters have combusted. Whoosh! Gone!
 One of the things I  decided to work on, here on this blog, is to find my true self.   Not an easy task, especially since I have to wade knee deep through a thousand critical voice messages stored in my brain.  Apparently, my memory does not have a limit as to the number that can be stored there and there is no way to erase these messages by simply pressing 7.   
 One of the earliest messages left on my “brain voice recorder” (I will refer to it from now on as my BVR) is one which I play over and over again.  I have to rewind (okay, my BVR is old, and uses tape) all the way back to one of the earliest messages.
"At the tone please leave your message:”  Beeeeep.
“Hello, Mrs. C.  This is Mrs. Harris, Lynda’s second grade teacher.  It is Feb. 1, 1954.  I wanted to let you know that Lynda is improving in overcoming her shyness. She cooperates very nicely and is very helpful in the classroom.”
Now, of course Mrs. Harris wasn’t the first one to implant such a message.  
My mother told the following story many, many times. 
Imagine this in my mother’s voice:  
“I’ll never forget this."  (She always started off a story with that sentence and believe me she never forgot this one.)  
“When  it was time for Lynda to start school, there was an orientation at Lincoln school in June for the children who would be starting school in September.  It was held in the auditorium at an assembly which included all of the students  in the school.  At the end of the assembly, Miss Kelly, the principal, asked each of the new kindergarteners to come up on stage and say their name.”
“And do you know that Lynda would not go up on that stage.”  
"She was so shy, she just wouldn’t go up there.”
" All of the other kids went up and said their name, but not Lynda.  Nope she was just too shy.”
So, first of all “thine self” are you shy?   
I decided to do a little research. 
Google led me to the Wellesley College’s psychology department's website and to this link.   It contains a little quiz titled “How Shy Are You?”
This was the result I got after taking the quiz: "Your total is 46. You are somewhat shy. Most shy people score over 39 and a few reach the possible high score of 65."
Okay, I would agree with that assessment.  I am somewhat shy.     I know I have come to depend on that evaluation of my personality as an explanation (okay in the vein of "true selfness”, maybe sometimes an excuse) of certain behaviors of mine. 
But, Mrs. Harris, is this really something that I need to overcome?  
Today I make this declaration.  I will embrace my somewhat shyness.   I will rewind my BVR back to 1983 and replay what that nice man (who found me in a corner all by myself and was the only one to ask me to partner with him)I met  in an assertiveness training class.  When asked to give a first impression of your partner he said the following:
“Lynda, I find you to be a gentle lady and quite charming.”
Aww, pshaw.  Really? 
Message Saved.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here is the catch up entries from Anna’s diary:

Sunday July 21, 1929
Dinner at Mrs. Naps.  Left about three to go see Mr. Nap who is away on a farm for his health with Margaret.  Stayed overnight.  Junior loves it. 
Monday, July 22, 1929
Came home today from Stockton, NJ with Mrs. Nap and Junior.  Good trip home.  Very tired and straight to bed. [On today’s roads it would take 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from Anna’s home in Newark, NJ to Stockton, NJ.]
Tues. July 23, 1929
Went to 360.  Baby caught his thumb in the car door.  Quite upset and Dr. Murray not in.  By night it was almost all better.  Transaction of Fireman’s Shares.
Wed. July 24, 1929
Went to Ocean Grove with Edythe to see her mother-in-law in her car.  Junior along.  Stopped at Allenhust for a while.  On way home stopped at Dream land Park.[couldn’t find any info on Dreamland park]
Thurs. July 23, 1929
Mary phoned. Met her and went down town to get info at the Provident Loan co.  She was very interested in it.  Home 4:30 for supper.
Friday, July 26
Today is St. Ann’s Day.  Edythe for lunch.  Drove back down town with her.  Charlotte here doing the laundry.  Supper at 360.  Went to Branford.
Sat. July 27, 1929.
Home all day.  Peg here from last night.  Lounged all day.  Jean home at 2.  Had supper at the “Green Door"  on Clifton Ave.  Went to Naps re: banquet.
Sun. July 28, 1929
Drove Mrs. Cryer to N.Y. to ferry for boat to Boston. Mr. Cryer very thin and still sick.  Went to Cousin Meg’s for data on her car.  Home early.
Monday, July 29, 1929
Home all day.  Slim here to fix drainage.  Jean came home for supper.  Marietta phoned to ask about where to give Dinner Dance for Jeawel on Sept 15th pin honor of passing her bar.
Tues. July 30, 1929
Mrs. Nap phone to say she had a letter from her husband at the farm.  He is in need of several things and she asked me to driver her out on Thursday.
Wed. July 31, 1929
Home until noon.  Went to 360 and had long debate with Mother and Father on Paren Love to children. They misunderstood my argument entirely.  


  1. My wife never ceases to amaze me with her writing and incites.  She really is "gentle and quite charming."  And that's just the beginning.

  2. I so identify with your feelings. I'm a filterer too with shy tendencies. I was excruciatingly shy as a child but worst of all in High School. In college, thanks to the encouragement of friends, I was able to overcome it. Now, I'm a highly social person but I do enjoy quiet, solitude, and being able to blend into the background when I'm not in a socially compelling situation. And the BVR? Love that. I have one too. The one thing I've learned over the years is, except for maybe my mom, no one person truly knows all of me. So if you ask different people what I'm like they will give some shared responses but they may have some that even contradict. I think you should definitely playback your partner's message more often than your teacher's. He knows the person you are now. She knew a person who was in transition and had limited life experience. Thanks for this post. It was very meaningful to me.

  3. Love your voice tapes.  Hard to get over those old recording devices, isn't it? 

    I applauded you and the embracing of your shyness.  I've been shy all my life...it does make it easier to know that you only thought the things that other kids got in trouble for saying!  When I realized that the world in general didn't value shyness as I did, I grew my own strategy for being in groups.  I would introduce myself to the first compatible-looking person and I found that interaction with the group was easier from there on.  No one who doesn't know me well ever believes that I am shy.  I am.  Sometimes, paralyzingly so. 
    Thanks for your message to all the shy people out there.

  4. I prefer to consider myself reserved.  I took the quiz and  was not surprised to note that, on that scale, I am mildly shy (scoring a 30).  There are some situations that bring out the shy side but mostly I am comfortable with people.  I took it thinking mostly of work interactions.  I am on solid ground at work and am expected by others to take charge and so I do.  I am always meeting with new people and having to speak to large groups of people.  That part has become easy for me (mostly b/c I am well aware that people in large groups to whom I am addressing aren't really paying attention to me.... they are thinking  about what to have for dinner or who is that cutie over there or where is the bathroom in this place or some such thing...).  New people I encounter at work are often wanting something from me so I have the upper hand.
    It's the personal situations that flummox me.  I HATE social gatherings, aka "parties".  I don't know what to say, I think I am going to come off as stupid or goofy - I care too much about what the people might think of me personally (vs professionally).  So I seldom go to social events.  Not a good way to overcome the issue but I don't much care.  I prefer my own company on my own time.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Lynda.  btw, I have one of those BVR machines too.  I have noticed that it must be wearing out a little bit b/c I dont' always get the message anymore.  Fine by me.

  5. I suppose it comes down to a matter of self confidence. When I was working I felt less shy. I think that was due to feeling competent and quite comfortable with my skills. And of course in the work place everyone is on common ground and there is always something to talk about.
    I like that you prefer your own company on your own time. I can relate :)

  6. I too, know what it feels like to be paralyzed by shyness.
    I commend you for being able to figure out a strategy for being more comfortable in groups. The fact that you are able to introduce yourself to a stranger is quite an accomplishment. I got a little anxious thinking about myself doing something like that.

  7. I agree that shy people are sometimes misunderstood. We can be perceived at times as unapproachable or even unintelligent. It’s nice that you had caring friends who understood what a great person you are.
    Thank you for your insight and encouragement.