INTRODUCTION: All my life I have been shy. Also, all my life I've been hearing people say, "She will grow out of it". I'm 20 years old and the shyness is still here. As a kid you can get by being shy but as an adult, shyness can hold you back in many aspects of your life. DESCRIBING PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR: After two weeks of recording my behaviors I've come to realize in what situations my shyness comes into play most often. There are very few situations that I feel comfortable with myself, allowing me to speak freely.
The only people that I ever feel at ease with are my own family and friends. Even my own family and friends can turn me silent in some situations. Meeting new people is a very hard task for me. Sometimes it feels almost impossible.
My biggest fear of meeting new people is, not knowing what to say. In most cases I would rather avoid a situation than have to deal with the feeling of not knowing what to say. 2/6-2/9 I tried to avoid any situation that I thought I could feel awkward in. Avoidance can be either physical (steering clear of a friend after having an argument, or in my case, steering clear of a friend to avoid the chance of any awkward situation) or conversational (changing the topic, joking, or denying that a problem exists). (Ch. 11-Managing Conflict, p. 304) Most shy people would rather avoid the short term problem of meeting new people and asking for dates, even when the long term goal of intimate relationships are enticing.
On 1/18 I had a job interview at a new pizza restaurant. My parent's had been hounding me for months to find a job. The new pizza restaurant that was opening, the owner happened to be one of my dad's co-workers, so I decided that even though I hated interviews I would give this one a try. It was 1/18 that the owner had called and asked for me to come in for an interview that same day. From the moment that I hung up the phone after agreeing that I would be there at 2: 30 I had the same sick feeling I always got when I was nervous about something. All I could think about was all the other interviews that I had gone on in the past and never got the job, so that had to be how this was going to turn out too, that was my self-fulfilling prophecy.
A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when a person's expectations of an event and her or his subsequent behavior based on those expectations make the outcome more likely to occur than would otherwise have been true. (Ch. 2 - Communication and the Self, p. 37) One of my biggest weaknesses in communication with others is eye contact. Eye contact is a nonverbal way of regulating verbal communication. Nonverbal regulators help control verbal interaction with others.
(Ch. 5 - Nonverbal Communication, p. 119) In almost all situations I have a very hard time looking at people in the eye when I talk or they talk. In all of my two weeks of journaling other than my online situations I had trouble with eye contact. Computer-mediated communication provides others with another way to react. (Ch. 1 - Interpersonal Process, p. 17) Internet has been proven to be an effective way for quiet communicators to make contact.
Chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, and computer dating services all provide a low threat way to approach others and get acquainted. (Ch. 7 - Emotions, p. 177) The only time that I don't feel a constant nervousness around new people is when I am online. When I was online I was able to get to know Michael and Adam better because I was able to express myself and self-disclose information about myself. Self-disclosing communication is information about yourself that is purposefully communicated to another person. (Ch.
9 - Intimacy and Distance in Relationships, p. 240) What I think that has affected my level of shyness most in my life is my self-concept, which is a set of perceptions that I hold on myself. (Ch. 2 - Communication and the Self, p. 29) I battled with clinical depression for many years, taking almost any self-esteem I had away. I was living a negative cycle; I had low self-esteem, so I had negative thoughts of, "I can't do it". Causing me undesirable behaviors (e. g., gives up easily, won't try), every time to think, "I failed again". .
(Ch. 2 - Communication and the Self, Figure 2.1) This negative cycle was a vicious cycle I lived for many years. As my self-esteem lowered and lowered the more I kept quiet. Going through high school I avoided every situation that I felt fear in, at all costs.
It didn't matter what grade I got in a class, what people thought of me, I would rather not have the feeling of fear than to get a good grade or have people like me. In the beginning I felt my shyness was from the fear of what others would think about me, now from all the years of not speaking I feel the fear of not knowing what to say. I don't feel that I have the skills and understanding of how to behave in situations. SUMMARY & EVALUATION My first goal was to apply for a job and go on an interview.
Applying for a job is a very scary thing for me because I know that most likely to follow will be an interview. Even asking for an application and turning it in causes me a great deal of trouble. Knowing that every time that a person relives their failures and rejections, they are reinforcing the problem, and possibly making it worse. I had to look past my belief that, I was going to fail and so there was no point in me trying. I had interpreted job interviews based on my past experiences causing me to not want to deal with something I was just going to fail at. (Ch.
3 - Perceiving Others, p. 58) First thing I had to do to reach my goal was to stop using a static evaluation that I was shy. Descriptions or evaluations that contain the word is contain a static evaluation-the usually mistaken assumption that people or things are totally consistent and unchanging. (Ch. 4 - Language, p. 98) If I wanted others to stop perceiving me as, "Ashley is shy", first I would have to believe that it was something that me being shy was changeable and not in all cases. My first interview was for Fast Lane Coffee. I ended up getting lucky in this situation because a friend of mine that works there set up the interview for me, so I didn't have to go through the asking for an application and turning it back it.
This was the luck I have had several times in life allowing me to get by with my nonassertive style. (Ch. 11 - Managing Conflict, p. 303) It was much like the interview I had at the pizza restaurant on 1/18 that I didn't have much time to prepare for it. The day of my interview was the day I found out about the interview. Although this time I had read the section in Chapter 13, Communicating with Family and at Work on Interviewing.
I may not have had much time to prepare appearance wise, I had been able to prepare myself mentally and my resume. First impressions can usually make or break an interview. I knew that I needed to plan on leaving 10-15 minutes early to make sure that I could find the place. Due to some not so good luck I ended up being a few minutes late. My friend that worked there had told me the wrong street name.
As I drove around looking for the building I kept thinking in my head, "Just turn around and go home, don't go through the embarrassment just to fail". I kept telling myself that I had to go, first of all it would make my friend look bad, and second I needed to change, I had been running away from uncomfortable situations all my life. When I finally got there my tardiness actually helped break the ice for me. My friend, Sarah was a much liked employee, so when I told them how she had told me the wrong street they laughed about it, asking each other, "Wasn't it Sarah that got lost when she came for her interview?" Even with the preparing of what I would say when going on an interview I still had trouble giving clear and detailed answers. Like it most social situations for me I answer with a quick yes or no answer and that's it, no details if I can get away with it. I tried hard to keep eye contact with the interviewers and did a much better job that I normally had.
The whole time I was there I felt flushed and sickness to my stomach from nervousness. Leaving the interview I felt much relief to be done with it. I told myself that I had tried my best, and that is the best that I could do. This was a learning experience and next time I could only improve. I didn't end up getting the job they had several other people apply for the job. It did make me feel like I had failed at first but I then realized that it was true what the interviewer told me.
They hired a person that had experience with making coffee, something that I didn't have. My second goal was to stop avoiding Adam when he asked me to hang out. For about a month Adam has been asking me to hang out almost every day of the weekend. From talking to him online almost every night for a few hours he seems to be a really great guy that I would like to get know. Every time that Adam asked me to hang out, instantly I would feel hot and nervous and not know what to say. Once I started feeling this way I knew that if I told him yes to hanging out with him it would make me feel even worse.
Instead of dealing with the horrible awkward moments that I had so many times in my life, I would just stop them from even having a chance to occur. I made up every excuse I could possibly think of, I'm too lazy, I need to eat, I have too much homework, I'm too tired, etc. After I made this my goal a few days later Adam asked me to hang out and like in almost every situation I had no real reason that I couldn't hang out with him other than me avoiding the situation. As much as I wanted to make up an excuse and have the feeling of nervousness leave me, I knew that I couldn't continue to do that my whole life. I agreed that I would go over to his house and watch a movie with his roommates and him. Getting ready to leave to go to his house, I changed my clothes a million times.
Every time that I walked in my roommate's room to look in her mirror I would tell her, "I think that I'm going to die". My roommate is a very outgoing and aggressive person so to her why I would feel that I was going to die from going over to a guy's house is crazy to her. Getting to Adam's house I kept telling myself that I was going to be okay. I still felt nervous and waiting for him to answer the door I almost felt like I was going to faint. I learned in the past that when I start to feel faint I need to really work on telling myself that I am okay and that there is nothing to be worried about.
There have been a few times that I have let myself think over and over in my head I'm going to faint and I have actually ended up fainting. That can be a much more awkward situation than why I fainted in the first place. Once I got there and the extreme feelings of nervousness left me I was able to get semi comfortable in the situation. The more I told myself that I was going to be okay the easier it was for me to look at Adam when I talked to him.
By the end of the night when I left I felt that I had got past the awkward stage and I was talking freely like I would with my best friends... well almost. What worked the best for me to overcome some of my shyness was self-talk. By telling myself that I wasn't going to die from communicating with others, I was able to not concentrate so much on the feelings of, butterflies in my stomach, blushing, sweating, that I had. Also it helped for me to prepare myself better for situations. Talking to my friends about what I should say to Adam, asking for help on what I should say in an interview. Changing my self-concept is another skill that I have been working on.
(Ch. 2 - Communication and the Self, p. 40, 41) I learned that I need to have realistic expectations, to realize that some of my dissatisfaction might come from expecting too much of myself. If I demand that I handle every act of communication perfectly, I'm bound to be disappointed. To judge myself in terms of my own growth not against the behaviors of others. "If you compare yourself with others, you may be become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself". (Desiderata) One source of low self-esteem is inaccurate self-perception.
Sometimes I can be overly harsh of myself, believing that I'm worse than the facts indicate. Learning to have a realistic perception of myself was a hard thing to learn. Gaining self-esteem isn't something that you will gain over night. I think throughout this term I have learned many things leading me to gain the self-esteem slowly that I lost back in high school.
To change my self-concept I have to have the will to change. I have said for many years that I want to change, but I don't do anything but say that. I thought that being shy was who I was. My static evaluation that's I've heard over and over in my head, "Ashley is shy". (Ch. 4 - Language, p. 98) I am capable of changing this part of my life, it is something that I have to have the will to gain the skills I need to be able to change.
The main thing that I learned from this project and life is, shyness may be difficult to overcome, but loneliness is harder.