Here’s the story of worry, toothpaste and a waterbed.
The life of a shy one is akin to being in a car wash without a car. I had a meeting once. Talking to humans is always difficult. There I was. Pale. Shaking. Sweating. Dry mouth. Windswept hair. Soaked from the rain outside. I looked like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The person I was talking to – did she understand? “Ah, he’s shy, I understand”. Nope. She was a complete swillbelly wallydrag. This is what she said.
“Are you okay?” Is something wrong with you? Are you suffering from depression? Do you have a mental condition? If you have major problems and issues, you can tell me – I can help you. Do you have negative thoughts?” Negative thoughts! Was that a new-age way of asking me if I was going to tie a brick around my neck and jump off The Transporter Bridge? I’m not comfortable around people. That’s all. I’m not the one with ‘issues’, you dreadful dunderwhelp.
Sadly, for me, this is all too common. I get it all the time. The person who talks to you every week is, unfortunately, rarely evident in the real world. The second I sat in that chair for that meeting was the second I became a grey slate.
You think a lot, being shy. Those thoughts can consume you. I was brushing my teeth on Friday morning, getting ready for yet another meeting that I was dreading after the last one, documented in the first paragraph. What were the thoughts rattling about in my head? ‘What if the bus is late?’ ‘What if I’m late, what do I do?’ ‘Will I look respectable?’ ‘Do I have the correct change?’ ‘Is my bracelet and necklace on correctly?’ ‘I must check my watch – the time must be correct; it may be a few seconds out’. ‘What if the person I’m meeting shouts at me again – what will my response be?’ ‘I need to check the bus timetables’. ‘Have the fares changed since I checked them yesterday?’ We’re like this all the time. If you ever wonder why those of us who are quiet, reserved, shy, introverted, or whatever label you like to give us, look like we’re thinking all the time, it’s because we’re wondering who’ll feed the cat if the wheel of the bus comes off on the way home from work.
We are worriers, although I don’t often like to say that because with my accent, it sounds like ‘warriors’, and I’m not even remotely one of those. These thoughts are what makes our hands shake at meetings or when I was brushing my teeth. Or, more correctly, my face. You then get new concerns like, ‘Oh God, I hope I washed all the toothpaste out of my eyebrows’.
I was sitting on the bus, on the way to that meeting. You try to keep to yourself but it doesn’t really work. New thoughts pop into your head. Who’ll be in my company? How should I approach them? Mind you, many of us are like that on the bus. If you’re a guy and there’s a guy sitting next to you, you carry on being a dude. If there’s a lady there, you try to behave gentlemanly. I wish the ladies would behave the same way. It’s hard to describe the look they give me when I sit near or next to them. Imagine if The Hunchback of Notre-Dame started licking your face. That’s the expression.
You start to worry even more. Do I smell? Probably. Most of my deodorant has evaporated by that point in my day. We look like we’re up to something when we’re just trying to blend in. Never works. Shy people sit awkwardly, too. Like, not even remotely comfortable. Like sitting on a waterbed floating in an ocean of combustible solitude.
Unsurprisingly, the meeting went off without a hitch. No qualms. I couldn’t have looked more of a criminal, but still. Then it was off to get some photos. I like taking photos because it’s a fun activity and you don’t have to talk to people. Except it’s not so fun when you’re in an abandoned housing estate full of peddlers and harlot inns. By yourself. Once every two weeks, I go to get photos near to this area for a photo diary I’m keeping of a new building being built. There’s a reason nobody thinks I’m interesting. Still cannot put my finger on what it is.
This location is also right near a college, full of students five years younger than I am, except I look younger than they do. You get a sense they’re looking at you. Laughing. Wondering who you are. It’s the kill zone for a shy one. You’re very self-conscious, like with everything in life. You just take deep breaths and carry on. That’s all you can do.
It is like a medical condition and you can try to overcome it or you can do what I’m doing and try to live with it. Learn to accept that there’s nothing wrong with it. With you. That’s my treatment. It’s difficult when you don’t have a friend, a confidant or anyone to talk to, but I think it makes you stronger. You learn to cope in a world with no one else in it. It’s also why I talk gibberish to you guys every week. It’s an outlet. A vent. You guys are my vent.
Hmm. That sounded a lot more poignant in my head.
American comedian, actor and voice actor, Jonathan Katz (b. 1946), once said: “Scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it years ago, but it was hiding behind a couple of other genes”.
Peace Out :|:
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(Note; photo taken by me of The Transporter Bridge, mentioned in the post; photo copyrighted 2013)