In my book The Shyness Guide, I say that when you learn to accept your shyness, you become less shy.
It’s true. When you’re no longer concerned about being shy, you no longer experience that kind of anxiety, so it’s easier to talk to people. Simple as that.
But that isn’t all you gain from accepting your shyness. Once the anxiety is gone, you also become more confident, and many people are attracted to quiet confident individuals.
Many autistic people feel anxiety about being so different. Even here acceptance is the key, though understanding how your difference affects other people is also important.
Some very autistic people feel confidence from the start. I mean those of us who scorn what appears to be the lower intelligence of other people, those of us who think we are always right. This is not a very useful confidence. Being an bull in a china shop is not very helpful.
But there are sensitive autistic people too, and these are often acutely shy. I consider myself to have at least one foot in this category (the other foot has sometimes been in the previous group).
For example, though I learned to accept my shyness early in life, and my profound difference (I was a loner among loners), so I’ve lived most of the time without seeking to get to know other people, I’ve often attracted other people. This has included people of all kinds, even extroverts.
During my 40 year career in the insurance claims business, as I moved from company to company (I was pretty nomadic in the working world), I often encountered people who wanted to know me.
I’m not talking about women who were sexually attracted to me, though women are often attracted to confident men. No, I’m talking about people, male and female, who just wanted to know me – to talk to me, go to lunch with me, work with me on projects, etc.
For me, this wasn’t always positive, since I always preferred doing things alone. But a few times I did experiment with joining a social group. Those were interesting times, and they are largely the reason that I’m able to provide advice about the social universe to other shy people. But they always ended the same way. Once I became fully aware of the selfishness, lying, self-deceit, and pervasive manipulation of each other going on in any particular social group (to some extent it was always there) I had to move on.
But just because I never sought other people, doesn’t mean I never welcomed them.
It did result in a few long lasting friendships. By that I don’t mean people who I continued to see regularly. I’m not able to do that much. I mean people who, if I meet them after many years apart, we begin talking happily again as if we were just starting up where we left off. That’s what I mean by a friend. Though I won’t see some of them ever again, they will always remain a presence in my life.
Also, one of those people drawn to me became my wife, the best friend I ever had.
Do you see what I mean? Accepting your shyness doesn’t just get rid of anxiety. It can bring you other rewards.