"It was not easy and took A LOT of effort and awkward situations, but I did it!"
How I did it:
Last January I decided it was time to make a life change. One of my New Year's resolutions was to shake my shyness off completely. I had gone 18 years of my life being shy and I was sick of it! I hated being silent and awkward all the time. I hated to hide my true self and smile and blush. I hated people thinking that I was weird and socially awkward. I needed to change.
The first step of my process was to take a class that would force me to break out of my shell a little bit. So I enrolled in Acting for the next semester. I was scared at first but relieved to know that I was taking a step for the best.
I knew that it would take more than an acting class to cure my shyness so the next step was to look inward and find the cause of it. I interviewed several former shy people to see how they did it. They gave me simple steps to start out with and offered guidance to help me find the cause. After a month of searching, I finally found the cause. The cause was that I cared too much about what people thought about me and I had some confidence issues.
One of the things I started to do was to say "Hi" and "How are you?" to random strangers. I started out with just one person a day. While on my runs I would say hi to people that I passed. It soon progressed to greeting people on the bus and carrying on conversations while I rode to school.
The acting class was great and I learned some great things but I was still not quite out of my shell. In May I got a girlfriend and I met some of her friends and they didn't think I was too shy. A week later I had an opportunity to go to Idaho with her for two and a half weeks, meet all her friends and her mom.
I was nervous but decided to go anyway. While in Idaho I met her friends and they were very cool and outgoing. I was probably at the halfway point of shy and outgoing. People still saw me as quiet.
I returned home in Utah and decided that there was no going back to my shyness. It was time to change all the way. I went on a series of trips this summer that demanded continual conversation and outgoing behavior. I went on a retreat that lasted one week, there were 42 people and no one knew each other (which was a big relief). And there were continual deep discussions about racism and inequality. It was extremely emotional and it was almost like they forced you to be social. It was Inclusion Summit, I highly recommend it. By the end of the week, everyone was so close and it was so sad to leave. Since then I have still kept in touch with many of the people I met there.
After this trip I found a new love for dancing and I continue to dance. I also talked to more outgoing people to see how they transitioned to outgoing. I found that if I acted like someone was my best friend than it would be easier to talk to them.
I now feel like I am no longer shy and I can walk up to anyone and start a conversation (even girls of interest). I feel that the real problem was that I was afraid to show my true self and now that has changed. Never give up on your quest to become outgoing, it is so worth it in the end.
"A stranger is just a person you haven't met yet."
Lessons & tips:
- Start Small. Make a goal to talk to one stranger a day, even if you only say hi.
- Put yourself out there. When there is an opportunity to have fun with a group of people, take advantage of it.
- Pretend like you are talking to your best friend when you approach a stranger. It will give you lots of things to talk about.
- People love to talk about themselves. Ask them questions that will allow them to talk about themselves.
- Find common ground. Ask what their interests are and find out about them.
- Don't be afraid to speak your mind.