To Be or Not To Be

Taylor - Windsor, California
Entered on September 2, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

When my family or friends tried to describe to someone else what I was like, the first word they often mentioned was ‘shy’. It was true then, and to this day it still is, but I’ve learned that being shy was my choice, and I could have chosen from the very beginning to be outgoing, a social butterfly instead of a wall-flower.

Since I was a little girl, I was always quiet and reserved, speaking only if I truly had to. My mother often worried about me, telling me to “talk to other kids” that I hardly ever spoken to, and to “dress differently”. But I was always content just to be me, to talk to who I wanted to and to dress how I always had. She viewed my shyness as a handicap, something that would prevent me from ultimately becoming my own person and be able to live on my own without her support. To my mother, it was a flaw in my personality, but to me it was just me being me.

My freshman year in high school wasn’t much different from my younger years. I sat among my fellow students, but never answered questions verbally if I could avoid it. It was hard for me to talk to acquaintances who weren’t exactly friends, and I always felt like I had something stuck in my throat when I tried. I was fearful of their reaction to me, afraid that maybe they would think I was weird or annoying, and that fear always stopped me.

Now that I’m a senior, I can look back and see just how much everything has changed for me. I’m not that shy wall flower anymore, or at least not constantly. It’s still a little frightening to speak up in class, especially presenting something in front of a room of students whose attention is focused on me, but I can handle it now better than before. I can speak to people I’ve never met without feeling awkward if they look at me like I’m crazy, because I know I’m just being myself. I’m even speaking up, so that people do not always have to lean in towards me and ask “what?” multiple times before they finally understand what I’m mumbling.

Being shy was always a choice I’d made subconsciously, and I always figured I’d be shy for the rest of my life. Looking back over just the past four years, I can see the difference between my wall-flower self then, and my social butterfly self now. I believe that everyone has the choice to be who they want, whether they want to be quiet and reserved, or talkative and outgoing. For me, I’ve realized that choosing to be more outgoing, even if I still am shy much of the time, is a lot better than hiding who I really am.