I have been walking through this trail in the woods of life. When I say trail I do mean trial, a safe trail, a well-walked trial. I’ve seen many people walk this trail and many people make it out safely. I may have ventured off the trail from time to time but never strayed too far away. This trail is all I know. I come across a fork in the road with two paths. One path looks safe, nice, and also…boring. The also path looks extremely dangerous but also looks much more exciting. I decide to take the risky path but someone stands in my way. Who is it? It’s me. My shy risk-free guardian angel.
“Can you excuse me I’d like to take this path,” I say.
“Uh….s-sorry. I ca-can’t let you. Sorry,” Shy Andrew mumbles while looking down at the ground avoiding eye contact at all costs.
“But I want to go on this path,” I say. “I’m tired of walking down this path. It’s boring.”
“Bu-but you never took the risky path before,” says Shy Andrew. “It could be d-dangerous.”
“Yeah you’re right,” I reluctantly say. “It’s too risky. Besides, I’ve been shy my entire life. What would people think if I just changed overnight?” I continue to walk down the safe trail.
“A-aren’t you glad I’m lo-looking out for you,” says Shy Andrew.
This is what happens every time I am presented with an opportunity to better myself. At least that’s what used to happen. I’m only 22 years old but I can’t even begin to list the amount of opportunities that I’ve had in my short life that I’ve missed. Not because of money issues or other obligations. I was simply too afraid to take the risk. How many questions I didn’t get answered because afraid to ask them? How many relationships I could have enjoyed but was too afraid to talk? How many jobs, internships, and scholarships I could have gotten if I took the extra effort and followed up on them with a simply phone call? I don’t even want to know the answers to these questions. The funny thing is these shouldn’t even be defined as risks. A risk involves making a sacrifice. What is my sacrifice here? Vibrating my vocal chords? All of these opportunities involved minimal risk and almost unlimited benefits.
I realize that I have the potential to be great. I’m very fortunate that I was raised in a nurturing family that supported me emotionally and financially. I am fortunate to have been born in a country where basic needs are abundant and opportunity is everywhere. I realize that there are many people on this planet that would kill to have the opportunities I have. I am in a position to do whatever I want to do with my life. There is only one person holding me back. Myself. I’m glad I realized this when I was 22 instead of 82. I still have a time to turn this around. To rid of Shy Andrew and live the life I want to.
Someday I hope to be a reporter, preferably an investigative reporter. The type that digs into the evils of corporate and government corruption. I realize that social anxiety and investigative journalism do not mix. After all, how do I expect to expose the tightly knit secrets of government corruption if I can’t even make eye contact with the cashier at Wendy’s? So one has to go: my dreams or my shyness. When you put it that way it’s a very easy decision to make.
How am I doing this? I do it by confronting my fear head on. I took up an internship this winter at my local paper. I’m not tasked with anything big. Just the small stuff like a new museum exhibit, local business has a birthday, etc. At first it was hard. I was violently shaking during my first interview. I was so worried about screwing up I didn’t even listen to what the person was saying. St-stuttering and putting an “um” between every other word when I asked a question. It was pretty bad. By the time I was writing my fourth article I was much more calm. I could get past the stupid stuff like my social anxiety and focus on the people and what they were saying. Then something else started to happen. My normal everyday conversations got better. Talking to the cashier at Wendy’s isn’t so hard after talking to a CEO of a company. It’s only been two months since I started reporting but I’m light years away from where I was. I’ve decided to continue writing for the paper through spring. Hopefully it will be even longer than that. One of the reasons I loving reporting is it makes me face my fear and deal with it instead of avoiding it. What’s life if you don’t challenge yourself? A well-walked trail.
I used to think my shyness was incurable. I was set in my mind that I was never going to be the person I wanted to be. Then again I also thought I’d never get out of my horrible fast food job, never squat more than 300 pounds, and never own a nice car and I’ve done all of those in the past year. It’s 99% percent mindset and 1% outside factors. I’m starting to see that there might be a cure to my shyness, awkwardness, and anxiety. I heavy dose of man up.
Do whatever you want and don’t let anyone, especially yourself, get in the way.