I’m an extrovert and I’m shy. It’s true and I’m not proud of it.
Please allow me to explain.
Most of the time, meeting people is a hobby for me. I actually thrive on encountering new names, faces, stories, and journeys. Each new friendship is an adventure.
But there are moments where I find myself surrounded by unfamiliar faces, attempting to selfishly hide behind my shy side. What will they think of me? They’re intimidating! What if I am supposed to know who they are, but I don’t? What if I can’t relate to them? What if they don’t want to talk to me? They look weird or boring… or both. What if I get stuck talking to them?
In less than a minute I can be completely consumed with doubt or fear or prejudice. All of my excuses seem to stem from a central source: selfishness. Shyness demands that others take the initiative in beginning a conversation with me. It forces someone else to ask me questions and discover my interests. It’s easy to be shy and let someone else make the effort. Focusing on myself blinds me to the fact that the people around me are human too. They are created in God’s image. They have a story. And they are part of God’s story.
We are explicitly instructed to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than [ourselves]; do not merely look out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). What better way to begin living out this command than in conversation? We have a plethora of opportunities on a regular basis to esteem the [cashier, barista, client, coworker, professor, receptionist, etc.] better than ourselves.
It’s time to stop pretending that being shy is excusable.
It’s time to regard others as more important than myself.
It’s time to smile, say hello, and meet someone new.