AC WP RSCN4338 ENH2My perspective on shyness is different because it’s the perspective of a loner.

During my life I’ve often been called shy, sensitive, or introverted. But several people, at different times, have also told me that I was the most independent person they had ever met. Well, that strong independence is genetic. It’s common on both sides of my family, and I’ve shared it with all three of my brothers (two deceased). It’s not a creation of mine.

Does this disqualify me from writing for other shy people? No, I think it has helped me appreciate the problems of shy people. I think being positioned outside the human community, outside all of its assumptions, prejudices and preconceptions, even while I was forced to live within it, has given me a broader perspective and a deeper understanding.

Early on in life I learned to deal with my own shyness through my inherited instinct for detachment. As my skill with that increased, I began to realize that many shy people have little understanding of detachment. But anyone can learn it.

For example, when I was teaching English in a Mexico City school in 1969, I became aware that one of the other teachers, a young Mexican woman, was acutely shy and afraid of her students. She suffered from constant anxiety.

I began explaining detachment to her, giving her concrete examples with students we both knew. Although she was no loner, she learned fast and within a couple of weeks she was more confident, relaxed and happy.

Just because someone is a loner – a person who doesn’t need other people – doesn’t mean that they don’t care about other people.

 

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