I was at a young ladies’ Bible study last night. I lead worship for them. And one of the leaders was going around with a clipboard, asking the girls one-on-one about prayer requests.
I had nothing to do but listen. However, I tried my best not to, until I heard the leader tell a pretty blonde girl, “well coming to this study will help you a lot with that.” She smiled and patted the girl on the back, which made her shift even more awkwardly in her chair.
The girls were also paired up and given flash cards so they could get to know one another and write each other’s prayer requests on the cards to take home with them.
The blonde girl’s partner pipped up loudly, “yeah, I used to be shy too. Believe it or not!”
Even I couldn’t believe it. There were only two things I knew about that girl, she was sporty and always voiced her opinions.
The blonde showed a hint of skepticism too.
Still, her prayer partner persisted how she was so shy her mom would have to make friends for her, etc, etc, until one day, she decided that she was done being a loner and that she wanted friends and boom, she wasn’t shy anymore.
I asked her if there was a specific age she was at that things switched for her. (I was obviously done pretending not to listen.)
She said it was eighth grade. Then she focused her attention on me. Again, I’m the worship leader, so people may simply assume, but she asked me if I was shy.
I was. My mom could obviously answer this question, as to my growing up shy and so forth, much more accurately than myself. But I told her that I’m the kind of person people meet at first and say, “wow, Rebekah’s so quiet. Rebekah’s so sweet and polite and timid.” and then when they get to know me it turns into, “don’t you ever shut up?! She’s so sarcastic and loud!”
We asked the blonde if she had anyone close that she could be herself around, and that when she was herself, was she loud or was her quietness simply part of her personality.
She said her cousins were close to her and that she was more outgoing around them.
Her prayer partner gasped. “I’m really close to my cousins too! Yeah I was the same way. I mean, I was worse than you! Not that. . you know. It’s bad to be shy. . I was just. . worse!”
I was strangely enjoying watching her sink herself into a hole.
But this got my gears turning. I mean, first there’s an obvious difference in being shy, being quiet as a personality trait, and being unsociable.
A big part of me wanted to ask the girl why she prayed that she wouldn’t be so shy. Was it so she wouldn’t miss the opportunities in life? Was it because she felt like she wasn’t as fun as she could be? Was it because she felt she was required to pray for that?
I was shy, so I get it. I would blush when a classroom of strangers would sing happy birthday to me, I hated it. When I was really little, I remember hiding under tables and the teacher getting mad at me for it and telling my parents. When I was in elementary school, they did a paper plate compliment activity. Your name was on a plate, then as it got passed around, the girls would write something of a compliment to you.
Mine looked like this.
Nice. Nice. Nice. Kind. Nice. Nice. Cool. A good listener. Nice. Nice.
I remember I only spoke to one girl the whole night, and it was the one the teacher assigned to be my friend. She was the one who wrote “a good listener.”
As a teen, my quiet-at-first-sight attitude was taken in a different light.
I don’t know if it is my natural expression, but people often think I’m hating on them or judging them into the grave. Just because I’m not saying a word.
I remember a Sea Cadet training. There was this girl there ratting on everyone. She had something to say about everything, and I marveled at it. First that someone could be so open, then that someone could possibly hate everything, and furthermore, she was able to make it funny sometimes.
As she spoke, every now and then I’d see her glance at me with the tiniest scowl, then look away.
It wasn’t until the end of the training, that we were all loving or generally more tolerant of each other and going over first impressions that she announced, “yeah, I wasn’t sure about Koontz. She was always STARING at me.”
I didn’t tell her I stared at her because I thought she wanted the attention. You look at people who are talking. She was talking all the time. I thought it was implied under the category of Free Staring Allowed.
That’s something that’s always stuck with me. I’m always more quiet around loud people. But I don’t mind it. If someone is being louder than me, I back up and let them shine. If they’re happy, I’m happy. The funny thing is, those loud people often think I’m the quietest creature on the planet.
Another thing I don’t say: if you weren’t so loud all the time I WOULD have something to say. You just cover all the bases.
The only time I fight to make my opinion known is if there’s dessert involved or I have a really funny sarcastic comment to toss in.
So I don’t know whether I’m considered shy or not. It depends on a lot of factors.
But shy people, don’t be ashamed of being shy. If you’re making an effort because you don’t want it to hold you back from opportunities in life, that’s different. But if it’s your personality to naturally stay quiet, there’s nothing wrong with that.
The blonde from last night was so pretty. She reminded me of a fairy with her long, thick blond hair, and she had the biggest, dark brown eyes. It looked like her eyes were all pupils. In the cutest way. Like Puss In Boots pleading for mercy, big-eyes.
She’s very approachable. I wanted to tell her this but never got a chance. Whereas I could be misunderstood as judgmental. This girl had a natural sweetness and mystery to her that made everyone want to see what was behind her eyes.
And no matter what. This girl was being herself. You could tell. There was no one else influencing her, there was nothing cosmetic. She was herself. And that, above all else whether it be shy, loud, or funny, is what matters.
Be true to yourself.