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How I Overcame Being Shy, Selfish, and Desperately Awkward

By: Guest Blogger

I was 15 years old, had a mouth full of braces and was desperately shy and awkward. Our whole family was involved in the AWANA program at our church and I had just started attending the high school program.

The first week came and I sat by myself. I walked to game time by myself. I left by myself. The next week, the same thing happened. This went on for several months.

I hated going.

I hated feeling shy and uncomfortable. I hated not having any friends and feeling desperately alone.

After several more weeks, I thought up a “brilliant” plan. Since, there was no getting out of going, I would just pretend to go. I would sneak away and hide in the unoccupied church sanctuary and then leave with everyone else and act like I had had a great time. Brilliant?

Not so much.

This story seems pretty laughable all these years later. The shy girl hiding because she was terrified to talk to new people.

However, from a young age, I was forming a bad habit of “hiding” from situations that were difficult or awkward for me.

I avoided one-on-one conversations, parties, or large social gatherings (which is nearly impossible to do in my extremely extroverted family).

I labeled myself as “shy” and that was that.

After years of hiding behind the label “shy” I came to a place where I really didn’t like the person I had become. I was in my early twenties and I didn’t like having shallow relationships. I was tired of feeling totally awkward in conversations and social settings.

So, I decided to take some serious action.

First, I admitted I had a problem. This was key for me! I wasn’t born shy and awkward. I had let myself become that way. I had to acknowledge this.

Second, I took a practical step to change this. I humbled myself and asked my older sister, Kristen, to mentor me and help me learn how to become a better conversationalist. We started meeting every week. This is when I started seeing real change.

We actually practiced having good and meaningful conversations.

I learned some great techniques for listening and sharing. She would also give me “homework.” I had specific things I had to do throughout the week (i.e. talk to one new person at church by myself for at least five minutes).

Slowly but surely I was breaking out of my shell and becoming the person GOD wanted me to be.

I was and still am a naturally quiet person. I’m an introvert at heart.

But, here’s the bottom line: we are all created with a God-given personality (outgoing, quiet, etc.) and we can use that personality for good or for evil.

In my case I was using my personality for evil. I wasn’t investing in the lives of others at all. I was only focusing on myself and my needs.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

When I surrendered my fears and insecurities to God and asked Him to help me in this area, I started seeing that my “quiet” personality could be used for good.

I began asking people meaningful questions.

I purposed to be available to listen to people that needed someone to talk to. I strived to speak words of encouragement to those around me.

And guess what happened??

My relationships started thriving. My conversations were way deeper. I had sooo much more joy and peace in my life. I wasn’t scared or nervous about going to parties or social events. I didn’t dread one-on-one conversations either. I actually looked forward to going to church and fellowshipping.

To all of my “shy” friends out there: If you are serious about overcoming your “shyness” and becoming the person God created you to be, these 3 steps of actions are for you. These helped me a ton!

1. Own It!

The first step for me was to recognize that I had a problem and then own it! Take responsibility. Don’t blame it on your “shyness” or other circumstances.

Recognize that bad habits have made you the way you are and new good habits can help you become the person God wants you to be.

2. Ask For Help and Get Accountability.  

Get help! Look for someone you know who is a really good communicator and ask them if they would be willing to help you.

Yes, this takes humility. But it’s worth it. Trust me! Ask if they’ll meet with you or talk on the phone regularly to give you communication help and keep you accountable. Be humble, be open to correction, and diligently work on making changes.

3. Just Do It!

Get out there and do it. Start small. Take that first baby step. Remember what I did? I started by forcing myself to talk to one person for 5 minutes at church.

Making change can be really hard and awkward. But remember, old habits won’t be broken in a day. Take that first step. Go talk to someone. Ask them how they are doing, what they have been up to, etc. And then keep asking more people!

God did a radical change in my life.

One year ago today, I was a very shy person. And today, I’m still myself –  just a much better version.

As a result of God changing my attitude and heart in this area, He has opened up unimagined doors of opportunity for me. One of them being the opportunity to serve as a leader (a leader!!) in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group! And you know what…I’m actually excited about it.

There is hope for the most shy, awkward and uncomfortable person out there.

By God’s grace, YOU can change. You can become a friendly, welcoming and warm person. God made us to love others and have deep meaningful relationships with people and YOU can have that.

I want to hear from you now (especially you introverts).

  • Do you feel intimidated and uncomfortable in social settings, one-on-one’s, and in groups? If so, why?
  • I have learned that shyness is usually a disguised form of selfishness. Why do you think you tend to be “shy?” When did this habit form?
  • What practical steps can you put into action today to slowly overcome your timidity?

Let’s interact below! You can also catch me blogging at our family blog, www.OhHappyHeights.com And yes, that’s me in the picture above…and that’s how I feel now. 🙂

This guest post was written by Ellissa Baird, one of our awesome younger sisters. She is 22 years old, loves coffee, and ran her first marathon last year. She’s da bomb! 

Overcame Shy Selfish and Awkward Girl Defined

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  • Kaylee

    Awesome post, Ellissa! You could have been talking about me – it described me perfectly. Except I haven’t overcome it yet :/ Unfortunately, my family and my Christian friends are all introverts as well, so it’s kind of hard to find someone to help me out and hold me accountable.. Your words were very encouraging though! <3 I'll keep working on it.

    • Kaylee,
      I am so glad you were encouraged by the blog. Praise The Lord! Keep working on it, girl! 🙂 Also, you could pray that God will bring a Godly out-going friend your way. 🙂
      Love, Ellissa

  • Elizabeth Williams

    I’ve been waiting for this post! That’s so great that you had a sister you could go to for help with this! I’ve never been shy, but I have always had a problem not feeling like I could truly be myself in public settings and around other people other than family. That’s something I’m trying to work on it and I’m definitely not as bad as I used to be. It’s so great that you were able to change!

    • Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much for your encouraging response. Keep working on it and God will totally bless your efforts! 🙂
      Love, Ellissa

  • CT

    I like how you point out the selfishness aspect of it. Good way of confronting reality with Biblical truth! Don’t make excuses for it, but call it what it is and address it. If you think about it this way, you need to be able to share the Gospel with those around you. Yes, you can distribute tracts, but you need to be prepared to evangelize verbally too. So you need to know how to talk well in order to speak the good news to others, especially strangers in the shopping mall! And if you think that you’re not good at speaking, I always refer back to the scene in Exodus when God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. And Moses replied saying, I’m a terrible speaker, God. Why would you want me to do the job? (paraphrased). And while God did give him Aaron, the point was, God gave Moses the ability to do a job that Moses never thought he could do. God definitely wants us to share Jesus with others, and I am most certain that if you are covering this in prayer and are willing to submit to His calling for you (and for all of us Christians, really), then He will give us the speaking skills we need to present the truth clearly.

    • CT,
      Great point about God using Moses even though he felt inadequate. God can use anyone. 🙂 God bless, Ellissa.

  • Isabella

    This gonna be my first comment here on the blog 🙂 I have gone through the same process. I would always hide behind the “shy label” too, and was terrified of being in a room full of people I didn’t know or talking to them. I can’t say exactly when or how, but I believe it was in my first year of college, when God began to speak to my heart about it. I just know one day I realized that hiding behind the “shy girl label” was making me insecure in many ways. By having just a few friends, I was scared about losing them, turning to be kind of possessive. I also realized that this prevented me from sharing knowledge with others. I had never invested time in anyone, taught something new. Although I have not asked for help to someone directly, I began to watch the people I admired for being good communicators. I started striving to talk to people I didn’t have much affinity with in my college’s Bible Study Group. I started doing this with my fellow students as well. Now each day I am even more surprised with the consequences. I made so many new friends, and have been so enriched by people so different from me. I learned to be more generous with my time and God healed my insecurities. I finally understood that, differently from the logic of this world, in the Kingdom of God the more we share, the more we win, so we can further share more (II Corinthians 9:11). Usually we see a shy person as someone to be pitied and it seems cruel to say a shy person is selfish. But God challenges us out of our comfort zone,to give up anything that deprives us from serving Him, and our brothers and sisters. An important part of this process for me was to be able to recognize that God had given me gifts, knowledge and opportunities. Being thankful about it made me realize that different from what I thought, I could contribute with something meaningful to others. Today I am the leader of the Bible Study Groups working in my city’s colleges. I’m still introverted and quiet; public speaking is not my favorite thing, but I’m happy to overcome each of my insecurities to do exactly what God called me to do. Thanks for the encouraging words, Ellissa, and the work of you, Kristen and Bethany. May God bless you! Greetings from Brazil 😉

    • Isabella,
      Wow! Thank you for being so honest. It sounds like God has done an amazing work in your life. Keep surrendering to Him and He will not disappoint you. 🙂 Sooo glad this blog post could encourage you! Praise The Lord. Love, Ellissa 🙂

  • G

    I’ve actually had the opposite problem: being too extroverted. I enjoyed making people laugh and being known as a great talker, but whenever I forgot my only purpose was to say words that could honor God, I’d start saying foolish things and even embarrass myself and others around me. I realized I was trying to make people like me instead of making them know me for a true servant of God. I asked help for a friend so she could let me know when I take things too far so I could stop me from acting silly. I still haven’t mastered this area of my life, but I constantly ask God for wisdom. The only way I can keep myself from surrendering to my heart’s desires is reading the bible and putting into action all of Jesus advice. Thank you so much for this blog, I thank God for your lives!

    • G,
      Haha. It sounds like extroverts and introverts need a whole lot of Gods amazing grace. 😉 Thanks for sharing. God bless you! Love, Ellissa.

  • Elisabeth

    Wow, this is so me, I just don’t know what to say!To be honest, I’m a Home schooled only child, and when I go out in public, I usually try to hide behind my Dad’s shadow.I have this problem, where I’m so shy I can’t just briefly look at people if there interesting, I stare at them which is awakward. I have trouble looking people in the eyes, and I’m not much of a conversationalist.Sometimes when people try to talk to me is awakward, because I don’t have much to say, and I’m shy, or I say something awakward.Last year, I tried to go to a Christian school, and was shy, at first but then thought no one would notice me or say anything to me unless I spoke up, and I spoke up to much, sometimes with out discernment.Is there anything that can help me?

    • Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much for being so honest and sharing. Pray pray pray! And ask someone to help you with some conversation skills. God will totally bless your efforts. Love, Ellissa 🙂

  • Elizabeth Fitzpatrick

    I had the same journey! And more recently, I realized that I need to start conversations and be the one to say “hello!” Thanks so much for this post Ellissa! You and I have many similar thoughts it seems. (=

    • Elizabeth,
      Haha it does sound like we’re similar. 😉 Being the first to start a conversation is AWESOME! 🙂 Keep up the good work. God bless. -Ellissa

  • o

    I like this blog but I kind of disagree with this post. I don’t think being shy automatically means one is selfish. I understand how being too shy can get in the way of serving others and sharing the gospel, and of course it can be used as an excuse, but if you are really and truly just shy your not necessarily also selfish. I’m a shy and awkward introver but I volenteer in and out of church, I go to church gatherings and bible study, I play sports and I willingly talk to people. I just don’t always start conversations or get real chatty. I dont think how quiet you are is the issue. Being too out going causes problems too, it can mean all the attention is often focused on you and everything tends to become all about you when you do the majority of the talking. That sounds a lot more selfish to me. We can serve others by just listening sometimes. James 1:19 comes to mind (also Ecclesiastes 5:2, among others) (perhaps a bit out of this context.) My boyfriend will often come to me just to get something off his chest and I do the same with him, we don’t want a conversation, we just need a kind ear. So I see your point but being shy is not the issue, using your shy nature as an excuse to be selfish is the issue. Being shy is perfectly fine, God just made some people that way, but its not an excuse to not serve others. And maybe that’s the point that was being made but to me it sounds like whats being saying is shyness is bad and if your shy you have to change.
    (Also I hate to be that person, but the definition of introversion and extroversion used ^ are totally wrong. Extroverts can be shy (like my brother) and introverts can be totally not shy (like my best friend). Being extroverted just means you feel energized by outside stimuli, so interacting with people or new experiences for example. Introverts are opposit, we are drained of energy by other people and get energy from being alone.)
    P.S. sorry if this sounded cranky, I don’t mean it that way, just not beating around the bush.

    • o,
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you. It definitely is NOT a sin to be a naturally quiet person. God gave each of us a distinct and different personality. Nothing wrong with being shy but if we use our shyness as an excuse not to serve God and the church I think that is when we run into problems. 🙂 Thanks so much for your response. 🙂 God bless, Ellissa 🙂

  • Celtic Princess

    This was a really interesting post for me. Recently I was talking with my dad, and he mentioned that he used to think that ‘introvert’ meant you were quiet, and ‘extrovert’ meant you were outgoing. I’m an introvert, personally, with decent people skills (because in my family you can’t not interact with tons of strangers) but I like being by myself. Daddy says he thinks he’d burst if he had to spend more than an hour by himself. (on another note, I can’t imagine being drained after spending a day by myself… a week maybe, but a whole day to myself feels like heaven!)

  • Shasta

    I am really shy and totally introverted. I don’t really mind being introverted, but I wish I wasn’t so shy. I’m really worried that I might be missing chances to make really good friends and being able to encourage them. I have been shy for as long as I can remember. Just the thought of being in a group of people I don’t know makes me freak out. I think that I care too much about what people think. Which is selfish. Thank you for this post and I hope that I can put this advice into practice.

    • Shasta,
      Thanks so much for being honest and sharing. I really hope this blog post can encourage you! 🙂 Love, Ellissa.

  • Kássia Cruz

    Thanks so much for this post!!

  • Azi

    Thanks Ellissa. You seem to be a great communicator in your writing. I’m glad that you are happy doing what you do!

    As someone very highly labelled as an introvert (although recently I’ve been re-evaluating whether that term really fits me), here are some things I wanted to add:

    -Keep praying. Life’s full of great things but it’s easy to get distracted from what matters most. Take time to talk to God and look into your soul about things important to you. That way you can get a glimpse of how to live your life, which can direct you even through times of fear or trouble.

    -Make specific goals. It can be towards anything you’d like to improve on, from interacting with others to learning something new or trying out a new hobby, but the more specific the goal, the better. For me if I don’t have any direction I’ll be less likely to feel hopeless, so it helps to give myself a specific time frame or thing to work on (e.g. Ellissa mentioned 5 minutes of talking to a new person for a week). Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things. Make your goal for that time and stick to it.

    -Find people who are good at stuff you’re bad at. Ask them questions about things that aren’t as obvious to you. I have friends who are great at talking to people and have given me insight into how they make people more comfortable with communication.

    You will mess up. Don’t sweat. Think about what went wrong and then try again. BE SPECIFIC. Be true to yourself and your mission, and most importantly, be willing to love.

    God bless! 🙂

  • Pamelah

    Just wanted to say I am blessed by you & the ministry you all are sharing! It’s so good & encouraging to see young ladies living for God in truth & purity. Thank you!!

  • Maria Wilson

    This is bad habit that I am still struggling with. But each day I’m coming out of my shell little by little. It’s a process but I’m getting there.

  • Kat Lewis

    This was an inspiring story. I’m really glad you posted it and I came across it. I thought I would just add my story to show how amazing God is and how he can save anyone who wants to be saved.

    I am part of an Extrovert family and I have an introverted personality myself. I always thought there was something wrong with me and I hated myself for it. I tried all the positive thinking books and communication self help books but nothing ever worked long term. It got to the point for me when I hated myself and couldn’t take any more.

    That’s when God reached out to me. I decided to volunteer to read at church , which was a big deal for me but I was told to do something that puts me out of my comfort zone. I was so nervous but when I saw the reading I could have cried. The only time I have ever read in church was at my Grandad’s funeral. He asked me to read the declaration of faith (Hebrews ch.11). Out of everything that could have been chosen for the reading at church it was this very one. That’s when I knew God loves me and wants to help me.

    Since then I have been working on my relationship with God and he has pieced me back together bit by bit. No matter how lost and alone you might feel, Jesus is always with you, and I am so grateful.

    I am still an introvert but that’s ok. The world needs a variety of people. God works through people in different ways and needs the variety to complete his work. He loves everyone whether they are introverted or extroverted.

  • This is so like me also.
    I was used to all of my insecurities that I’m afraid to really talk to other people. Back then, I was the type of girl who will never speak or talk unless you started the conversation and most of the time I was the one who will keep it on a hang. This is just a part of my Insecurity Stories.
    But no doubt, God’s grace is really present in every situation. Since I acknowledged Him as my Lord and Savior, I gave up to him my insecurities too. And now, I can see the change that He is bringing every day in my life, and people noticed it too. God is so good!
    Progress is real. Change is possible if we all continue growing and knowing God more. Transformation starts with a decision and from within! Thank you GirlDefined ! 🙂

  • Kristy

    I know this cment is almost a year late but it still helped :)So I’m only introverted and really shy around people I don’t know. When we go to new churches I am NOT the type of person to ask someone else their name or really ask any questions or say anything because I’m afraid they won’t like me or that they’ll think what I had to say was stupid… I am like Elissa was, at one church I couldn’t stand game time, but I didn’t want to be awkward and be all by myself in the class room, so I stood in a locked bathroom stall until game time was over and then went to class pretending like I had been in the bathroom that whole time… It was really bad and I hated trying to find a outfit that the other girls would think was cute and I hadn’t already worn. I hated going… Thanks for letting Elissa post this!! It was amazing and inspirational.. THANK YOU ELLISSA!!!

  • Amaris Lancaster

    I am pretty extroverted but an introvert at heart. I call myself an extroverted introvert. Because of the introvert part of me I have always had trouble making new friends by myself and investing and growing those friendships. I always wanted deep an meaningful friendships with people, and I realised that you get out of what you put in and that I need to invest more into my friendships. I have tried to do this and I’m slowly finding it easier and I’m seeing a difference. I have also found that I’m becoming better at time management, I’m experiencing a better fellowship with people, and people are opening up to me more.

  • Christian Country Girl

    It’d be really cool if you did a series (maybe online Bible studies or webinars or even weekly videos or articles) on this subject. I’d love to be able to have a weekly challenge type thing for me to do. I’m a pretty quiet person and It’s so hard for me to talk to new people! But something like a challenge once or a couple times a week would help so much!

  • Gloria Williams

    Hello my name is Gloria and I’m also shy. When I do talk to people I say the things that are not important just like you said. And I feel awkward afterwards, reading your stories, enlighten me for change. I talked to several people after church for 2 minutes that’s a start. I thank you.


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