Shy Girl’s Manifesto & The New York Times!

Shy Girl’s Manifesto & The New York Times!

Shy Girl's Manifesto and The New York Times

Shy Girl's Manifesto and The New York Times

A few months ago I got an email from a writer for The New York Times. She said she was writing an article on shyness and wanted to interview me.  

The New York Times?? Really?

I wrote back something along the {more professionally drafted} lines of ‘sure thing’ and attempted to hide the emotional jumping jacks and somersaulting endorphins buzzing through me. 

We scheduled our call for a few days later. Turns out she had read something I wrote online about shyness and liked my unique spin on it. She said she was writing an article about “accomplished people who ‘surprisingly’ self-identify as shy.”

We had a great call and talked for nearly 45 minutes. I channeled my inner warrior and put my shyness on a spiritual shelf. 

She mentioned she was interviewing an astronaut, best selling authors and the like. So I filed this little incident away into my “if only I make the cut” folder. Weeks and months went by and I more or less forgot all about it. 

Then I got a call last week that it was finally getting printed and not only was I being included but so was my website. Hey Universe, you’ve got something, I think it’s my back. 

Here’s the article:

The inner critic in me would love to edit my quotes to more accurately state certain things. But my inner critic will have to shove it because I was quoted in The New York Times on a topic I care deeply about; forest, I see you through the distracting trees. 

If I were to write my own follow up to this piece it would focus solely on the importance of reframing the way shy people feel about themselves, as well as the way the world responds to shyness. 

I truly believe that where you withdraw in one area, you expand in another. When you only focus on the negative aspects of shyness (or anything for that matter…) you miss out on all of the positive growth it’s created in other areas of your life and on all the beauty it possesses by its very nature. 

To me it’s no surprise that many successful people self-identify as shy. Success in no way excludes the shy. I’m not saying it’s easy, shy people definitely have big battles to fight, but the successful ones are the ones who’ve allowed their strengths to take the main stage (hello, Chris Rock), strengths likely heightened by their shyness. 

Word Association. Now when I hear the word “shy”, the first word that comes to mind is “beautiful.” Not “broken”, not “insecure”, not “poor thing”. Just beautiful. 

Today most people are completely surprised when I tell them I self-identify as shy. I always have and always will. However, once I accepted who I am, all of me, including all the times where my shyness and anxiety held me back mercilessly, that’s when I stopped feeling and being held back by it. 

By making my “shyness” my friend instead of my enemy I was finally able to see all of the special gifts it has given me and better understand how it has – and has not – shaped the person I am today. 

What Being Shy Does Not Mean… 

Being shy does not mean someone is weak. I have always been quite strong as are many “shy” people I know. Shyness may disguise strength, but it’s always there. Shy people are often the ones to surprise people with the magnitude and depth of their strength. They don’t flash it around, but it’s there when they need it.

Being shy does not mean you don’t have a voice. Everyone has a unique voice. Shy people may not always be able to use it exactly when they want to, but it’s there, waiting patiently to find its place and comfort zone. 

Being shy does not mean you’re a social recluse. Personally, I have a ton of friends. I may meet and bond with them differently than someone who knows nothing of shyness but that likely has more to do with being introverted than shy

Being shy does not mean you lack choice in who you surrounded yourself with. Quite the contrary, I’ve always very selectively chosen the people I want in my life and weeded out those whose energies stifle me and send me uncomfortably inward. If anything my shyness has helped me to form an abundance of deep, loving, and supportive relationships.

Being shy does not mean you can’t accomplish lofty goals. Shy people can, do and have moved mountains, from artists to actresses, to lawyers, to doctors, to writers, to scientists, to athletes. To name a few… Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Tom Hanks, Lucille Ball, Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood, Cher, David Letterman, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, J.K. Rawling. This list could go on and on! Again, when you withdraw in one area, you expand in another. I’d go so far as to say that being shy could be the very reason you find success! 

What Being Shy Has Done for Me…

Made Me See Deeper. Into people, into animals, into energies, into all that goes unsaid. 

Made Me Focus on What’s Truly Important. I found that when things didn’t really matter to me, like speaking in class, my shyness took over. It tormented me. I very much enjoyed just listening in class, zero desire to speak. When I was forced to, all my shy symptoms came flooding in. Voice changing, hands shaking, heart pounding, you name it. But when something really mattered to me, things that set me on fire, my shyness took a back seat and my voice came through. Why not focus on the things that set you on fire?

Made me learn to listen, deeply, intently and with purpose. When you’re not speaking, you are certainly listening. And so you start to hear more than just the words, you hear what lies beneath them, an invaluable skill. 

Made Me Refine My Voice and Choose My Words. Words matter. Every. Single. One. I don’t insult or speak down to people. I don’t belittle. I don’t name call. Shyness has given me respect for words and how we use them. I avoid people who freely and haphazardly use harsh words in their dealings with or about others. And I avoid words like “overcome” and “get over it” when it comes to shyness or anything that is an integral part of who someone is.  

Made Me a Writer. I always say I think with my hands. What I could never express comfortably with my voice, I learned to expressly freely with my hands. My hands have always felt boundary free. I wouldn’t change that for anything – ever.  

Made Me Appreciate Silence, Softness, Nature. Things that say so much without saying a word. Those are the things that rejuvenate me.  

My shyness may not have derived from the best place, but it has deepened my soul and my experiences. All of the times (many) when it’s cursed me with its anxiety and insecurity has given my life an edge. And as Danielle LaPorte often says, who would we be without our edges? 

I believe that we are all here to elevate our souls in some way. Every time I lost and found and then lost my voice again, I learned something new and changed my path a bit to reflect the growth that always comes with pain. If I only ever fought against this growth, instead of embracing it, I’d stay stagnant instead of elevating.

And so I don’t try to “overcome” my shyness, I embrace it, and learn from it, and grow and expand with & because of it.

love letter for shy people final

My love note to all shy people… 

You have a voice, 
It’s inside of you and will patiently wait until you’re ready to use it. 
You are not weak, 
Your strength lies deep within and you’ll use it when you need to. 
You are not stupid, 
You are wise and wisdom sometimes needs no words at all. 
You are not overly sensitive, 
You are emotionally brilliant and the world values that more and more each day. 
You are not broken, 
You are beautiful. 

Love your shyness and it will love you back. 

So, are you shy? If you’ve read this far, you likely have a shy side. What’s one positive way it’s impacted your life? By acknowledging it, you’ll expand your outlook on shyness.



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15 Responses to Shy Girl’s Manifesto & The New York Times!

  1. Congrats on your appearance! I love your manifesto- so beautiful 🙂

    I’m very shy in certain situations. I don’t even know if I’d classify it as shy, but more awkward or standoffish maybe? Other times, I’m the life of the party- so depends on people, environment, mood.

    • Liz says:

      Thank you so much Amanda! I can be the same way, totally depends on the situation, energy, etc. I try to avoid situations/places that make me feel unusually awkward, why make myself suffer!

  2. Congrats, congrats, love! I'm so excited to read your appearance in the NYtimes! Wow! Since you know me so well, being shy/introverted can be a struggle. But I'm learning to embrace it! xo

  3. Jennifer says:

    This post…exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you! Congratulations on your appearance in the NYTimes!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Beautifully said Liz!! I love this post & congrats on the NYT mention – that’s so major!
    I’m highly sensitive but also high-sensation seeking. So I can appear extroverted, but very much need lots of time alone to recharge.
    I can so relate and love the ways you reframed the general notion of shyness as something “bad” into something powerful and beautiful.
    You’re a beautiful writer!

    • Liz says:

      Thank you Stephanie! I’ve never thought about high-sensation seeking before, will have to learn more about that! HSP with you all the way. Thanks for reading, fellow beautiful writer!

  5. AAAAAH! Congrats babe, that’s soooo awesome and exciting. You’re amazing and you inspire me. 🙂 xo

  6. Terrah says:

    This is a fantastic post and came at the most perfect time for me to read. I love as well that you put a positive spin on this. It makes me feel so much better and not so alone that I am a shy person as well. Congrats on the article, that is HUGE!

  7. […] truth at the time was internal. And it was sensitive. And intimidated. And shy. […]

  8. Jenn says:

    I have to tell you how much this post means to me! I can’t stop reading it. For many years I waged war on my shyness, hating it, trying desperately to get rid of it, but to no avail. The thought occurred to me that it’s not going away, and maybe I need to accept it as a part of who I am, and here is your beautiful post confirming that that is exactly what I need to do. For the first time I don’t feel burdened by shyness, I feel free and happy and finally able to love my whole self. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks so much Jenn! I’m so glad this post resonated and that you’re no longer feeling burdened by your shyness – that’s a beautiful thing!

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