If the Shy Girl Can Do it, What’s Stopping You?
When I was eight years old, my parents took me to a psychiatrist. “We’re worried about our daughter. She’s too quiet. We think there’s something wrong with her.” When the doctor finished examining me, he came out to talk with my parents. “There is nothing wrong with your daughter. She’s just shy.” And from that moment on, I was labeled ‘the quiet shy one’.
I hardly ever raised my hand in class. I was afraid of being judged. As I got older, I began hanging out with loudmouthed girlfriends. I’d murmur funny comments under my breath, and they’d repeat them out loud and get all the laughs. I felt bad that they got the credit, but I was still too scared to risk having people laugh at me, not with me. So I stayed quiet. The shy girl stayed in her safe protective shell.
Emerging from my shy girl shell
Six years ago, I began to lose my shy girl persona. How?
1. I started taking some scary steps.
I left a failed marriage. I became a life coach and discovered my passion and true calling as a dating coach. Suddenly, I had things I wanted to say, messages I wanted to spread to others. It was important to stop playing small and start pushing out of my comfort zone to be seen and heard.
2. I had a message to spread.
My message first came out in my writing. Oh, I forgot to tell you, aside from the shy girl label, I carried the ‘she can’t write’ label. I was the artist, not the writer. But with so much to say, I couldn’t stop writing. I wrote a newsletter, which morphed into a daily blog. I started writing for other sites, eventually landing as featured writer for the Huffington Post!
3. I began to take more risks.
Not the ‘jump off a bridge tethered to a bungee cord’ type of risks. I’m talking about emotional risks. I pushed myself past my comfort zone even more. It was scary, but I had reached a point where it was more frightening for me to hide. I just couldn’t conceal my true self anymore.
I did things that shy people don’t do. I was asked to be a guest on someone’s podcast. My voice shook as I delivered my first presentation. I got great feedback, which gave me the courage to do another podcast. I soon became brave enough to deliver my own tele-class series. That was a big step for me, but I was still comfortably hidden behind a telephone; not standing on a stage for all to see (and judge, I assumed).
4. I took bigger risks.
Each time I succeeded with one risk, it gave me the courage to step a little further out of my quiet shy space. Last year, I started a radio show called Last First Date Radio, where I interview guests on topics related to dating after 40 and maintaining healthy relationships. I realized that now the tables were turned. My guests were nervous, and I was starting to feel more confident and much less shy.
5. The biggest risk of all!
Last December, my friend connected me with the organizer of a TEDx event. I submitted a proposal about a topic I was passionate about, and it was accepted. Great!! And…yikes. How can I, the shy girl, give a TEDx talk? I was terrified of public speaking. My fear paralyzed me. I was on the verge of withdrawing my application, when I took a deep breath and calmed myself down. I thought, ‘how can I deliver this talk AND overcome my fears?’
6. Getting support.
I realized I didn’t have to do it alone. So I got help. I hired a speech coach. I joined Toastmasters, and I practiced and rewrote my speech about a gazillion times, until I felt more at ease.
7. I did it!
On Friday, April 26th, 2013, I stood up in front of a large audience, with cameras rolling, and gave my TEDx speech! I was pumped up with adrenaline, but not paralyzed with fear.
My secrets to success? It was a series of small steps, over many many years, always moving past fears. When I believed in my message and my ability, recognized that I didn’t have to do it all alone, got the support I needed, and practiced, practiced, practiced like crazy until I felt confident in my delivery, I finally had the courage to do something the shy girl didn’t believe was possible.
The best part is, I am now proud to call myself a public speaker, and I look forward to standing courageously to deliver my important message to larger audiences from this day forward. I am already booked at a venue in New York City in the fall.
As you can see, I am not better or more special than you. I took risks and kept on going. If the shy girl can deliver a TEDx talk, what’s stopping you from achieving your goals and dreams?
Here’s my TEDx talk. It’s about living my life as a Tootsie Pop.
I want to know if you’ve ever held yourself back because of limiting beliefs. Please share your thoughts below.