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Overcoming Shyness

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Overcoming Shyness

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It was my first year at summer camp, and I was 13 and shy. Sure, my counselor was nice, and I made a few friends during initial activities, but lunchtime was hard. After lunch, everyone else was talking, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to join their circles. So I went to the bathroom. I just stayed in there for the rest of the free time! I felt terrible.

No one wants to hide in the bathroom, but it can be hard to know what to do around new people. It’s important to remember that the most significant things you will accomplish, and your most memorable life experiences, will likely come out of the relationships you will build with people you haven’t even met yet! So if you do want to overcome shyness, here are some tips.

1. Remember you are loved

Shyness usually results from some kind of fear. At camp, I was so afraid of what other people would think of me that I hid. Fear was a crippling force in my life, and it was caused by being overly focused on myself. My desire for acceptance had actually become a kind of pride—I was too proud to let anyone see me fail. God desires so much more for us than a life of stunted pride. He wants us to be confident and secure in His love for us, so that we can go out and love other people! First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” If we are too scared to be friendly toward other people, we are failing to use the blessings God has given us. He loves us so that we can, in turn, share His love with others.

2. Don’t stress

I tend to overthink things and wonder whether a person will like me. Keep in mind that other people are just that—people. Some of them will be kind. A few of them won’t be. But the chances that someone will hate you just for introducing yourself is very slim. Most people are not going to be offended if you ask to sit in the empty seat next to them. Most people are actually very nice if you give them the benefit of the doubt. Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that “a man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

3. Focus on the other person

Ask about their hobbies, sports or family. Go into every conversation with the goal of learning something new. Be warm and smile! At first, this can be really hard. You may feel quite scared to talk to a new person, but if you go into the conversation with the goal of learning something you don’t know about their life or the things that are important to them, it will be less scary. The other person may even consider you a great conversationalist.

4. Laugh at yourself

Are you afraid of saying something dumb? The truth is, you probably will, so you might as well accept it! Your best moments with people are on the other side of those mishaps. If you are a perfectionist like me, you might prefer to never get into a situation where you look ridiculous. But that may leave you alone in a bathroom! So you might as well get out there, talk to people, and laugh at yourself when you drop your soda on the floor. Everyone has moments like that. If you can laugh it off, people will love you for it.

5. Know your worth comes from God, not from people

Not everyone is going to like you. There, I said it! As a recovering people-pleaser, I’ve found this hard to accept. I often wonder: Why can’t I make everyone like me? But the truth is that we don’t get our value from what other people think of us, but from what God thinks of us. God wants us to rely on Him, not on other people! Accepting this can help you to be more willing to take chances and build relationships with others. God is still your Rock, no matter what people do. He loves you, and He has chosen you to understand His truth and to serve Him. Take time to pray to Him. Tell Him how you feel, and ask Him to help you overcome your shyness. Sometimes you just have to be kind, but be okay with the fact that not everyone is your best friend. God is never going to give up on you, and that’s what really matters.

6. Turn your shyness into service

The world is full of shy people. If you are one of them, you have the unique ability to truly understand how another shy person feels. God wants us to use our experiences to help other people. You can make a difference in someone’s life just by going up and talking to them, saving them a seat or sending them a text. You can be a blessing to other shy people!

I once heard a story about a young man who went to an entire two-week church camp and came home having only really gotten to know two people. The next year, he decided to try to learn the first and last name of everyone in the entire camp. Not only did he make a ton of friends, he proved to himself that when he reached outside his comfort zone, he could do seemingly impossible things with God’s help. Soon you may be in a situation where you will be meeting many new people, like the Feast, Winter Camp or a Winter Family Weekend.

Maybe this year is your year. Are you ready to break out of your shyness? You can do it, with God’s help!