Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You can't be shy with people who can't see you

You probably don't know this, but I'm shy. I know it might be surprising, especially since I keep a blog and reveal far more details about myself than most people find comfortable. But in person, one-to-one, I'm as timid as the proverbial door mouse, tongue tied and terrified of saying something stupid. The idea of having to engage a person in conversation makes me nauseous. At parties I tend to hang in the background and wait for people to approach me, or I tag along with a few people I might already know. I can chat and fake it, pretend to be clever, or at least not stupid. And sometimes I have no idea how to end a conversation, so I probably hang around too long, like one of those annoying people at parties you can't shake.

I've been told I'm aloof and sometimes intimidating. The reality is I'm so shy I don't know how to say hello.

This became a problem when I started working with visually impaired people.

How does a person who can't see you know that you're there? How do they find out who you are, your name, and if you're still in the room or if you left?

You talk to them, of course.

Simple, right? At work, when you enter a room and there is a visually impaired person present you say hello and even if they already know your name, you tell them who you are ("Hi. It's Terena."). In fact, wouldn't it be great if everyone did that, instead of having to fumble for names? Or if you pass on the street an acquaintance who is visually impaired, say hello. It's rude to just walk on by as if they don't know you.

What did I do the first few weeks of my internship? I walked into a room and tried to be quiet so I wouldn't "bother anyone." When my instructor was talking to one of her students and she forgot to introduce me, did I say hello? Nope. I pretended I wasn't there. I kept waiting for the other person to acknowledge me first, just as I do every day, rather than take the first step. This tactic doesn't work when people can't see you. As I've forced myself to stop being rude (which is exactly what I was doing by not letting a blind person know I was there), I've also had to deal with my shyness. I'm now wondering, If I can be more outgoing with my students, can I also be more outgoing with people in general?

I've decided to give it a try. I can at least pretend to be outgoing, and then maybe eventually it will stick.







3 comments:

bioniclissa said...

But in person, one-to-one, I'm as timid as the proverbial door mouse, tongue tied and terrified of saying something stupid. The idea of having to engage a person in conversation makes me nauseous. At parties I tend to hang in the background and wait for people to approach me, or I tag along with a few people I might already know. I can chat and fake it, pretend to be clever, or at least not stupid. And sometimes I have no idea how to end a conversation, so I probably hang around too long, like one of those annoying people at parties you can't shake.


YOU have just described ME

TherExtras said...

Pushing some real mid-life growth, terena! Yes, I'm surprised to learn you are shy, but you seem to understand yourself well.

Have you seen the movie "Temple Grandin"? I only recently saw it - a woman who is blind plays an important role in Temple's life.
Barbara

PS Hope you are well soon - from your cold.

Terena said...

I haven't seen the Temple Grandin movie yet, but it's on my list (my giant list of movies to watch when I'm done with school. It's going to take me a year of daily movie watching to see them all).

Feeling better, but not great. Queen Teen went back to school today, so I'm going back to bed.