{Shy Girl’s Manifesto} Teenage Years, Finding Strength

{Shy Girl’s Manifesto} Teenage Years, Finding Strength

Shy Girl's Manifesto: Teenage Years, Finding Strength

Shy girl eyes
This post is part of the Shy Girl’s Manifesto series. To receive our free Shy Girl’s Manifesto e-book, enter your email here.  

We all know high school is brutal. Teenagers can be merciless. High school for a shy person is clearly no exception and we are usually the ones who take the brunt of the abuse. Like an animal, high school students seem to be adept at smelling fear. Show that you’re timid and you’re easy prey for the unruly. 

My most awkward period was junior high. I had braces, wore glasses, didn’t know how to manage my crazy hair, and was nothing but skin and bones. Everyone in my junior high seemed light years ahead of me in maturity and life experience. I had friends but always felt very awkward and meek. I couldn’t have been further from “cool” but all in all people didn’t bother me too much.         

By high school I had gotten rid of my braces and glasses and was starting to leave my ugly duckling phase. Becoming mildly attractive proved advantageous. Boys started to find my quiet demeanor alluring and I didn’t have problems making friends.  

As I continued through high school my insecurities started to become overshadowed by anger. I was growing a tougher exterior. I still had the same shy fears and anxieties but my newfound toughness disguised them. I felt small inside but on the outside you might not have known it. My shyness had grown a rougher edge, at least temporarily.     

I was lucky that I was never bullied much but I was very acutely aware of others who were. I knew I had dodged the bullet but every awkward insecure voiceless teased and tortured soul was inside of me.  

It was about this time that I learned just how strong seemingly meek souls could be. Despite feeling so small for most of my life, I grew extremely brave when others needed me to, stupidly brave. For a variety of reasons, bullies didn’t scare me much, they infuriated me. I’m sure I didn’t always do enough, there were definitely situations I stayed out of, but I interjected myself on behalf of others as much as I could, sometimes when I shouldn’t have.

Standing up for others started to become an ongoing pattern. I enjoyed being strong for others (animals included) where I was weak for myself. It was like a switch would flip and I’d transform from soft spoken shy girl Liz into super Liz. There were situations in my life where I simply couldn’t stand up for myself, I was voiceless, always wishing someone would say the words for me. But standing up for others came naturally to me. It was instinctual, primal, a fury almost. And it would get me in trouble in more than a few instances…   

To this day bullying in any form is one of my biggest pet peeves, as it is for many of course. My older brother and I didn’t get along growing up (we’re close now) but he was a fellow insecure introvert, far more awkward than I was. And he was bullied mercilessly. Seeing what he went through broke my heart.  

This drive to protect others taught me something. It taught me that I wasn’t as weak as I always felt. In some ways I felt like two totally different people. On the one hand I wanted to hide under the covers from life and pray that the world wouldn’t notice my shy sensitive self. On the other hand, I was a lioness willing to risk her mental and physical wellbeing to protect someone I felt was being hurt either emotionally or physically.

It also taught me how important it is to ALWAYS stand up for the voiceless, they are the ones who need us the most. My devotion to animals grew from this understanding.   

It took me years to even acknowledge this source of strength within me. Now I try to never forget it. And now of course I channel it more constructively than I did as a teenager. 

The moral of this story? Shy people may appear to be weak and are often soft spoken, but never underestimate them. There is a fierceness in shy people. Wherever people have a weakness, a well of strength emerges. Each person’s strengths may be different. If you’re shy recognize your strengths and you’ll start to live a little fiercer everyday.

Are you shy or introverted with a fierce side?  Does it surprise you?  Does it surprise others?  


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7 Responses to {Shy Girl’s Manifesto} Teenage Years, Finding Strength

  1. I love this post Liz! I agree with you… there are many times when I have (and continue to) surprised myself. If I’m truly passionate about something I am suddenly infused with a TON of energy, strong voice and no fear. It’s interesting that you mention you weren’t afraid of the bullies… I think that is a big piece of it. If you show fear, you’re in trouble, but when you’re not afraid, that is scary to the people who feel like you should be. Or want you to be. I was never bullied, but I was quiet and introverted and didn’t really have a place in school. But I think what set me apart from others is that I wasn’t afraid of them. I love how this ties into the work you do today! xoxo

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Steph! So funny how we sometimes have no fear of the things that we “should” and yet fear other things that most don’t. You’re so right about the bullying, bullies are scared themselves so it makes sense that they stay away from people who show no fear of them. Funny how much we have in common!

  2. Lisa Consiglio Ryan says:

    Oh, Liz, I feel as if I do have that fierce side! I really can’t stand when things are not fair…and if I see someone being treated badly, I just can’t hold back. In HS, I was so so very shy, and I don’t remember really voicing my strength, but as I get older, it just comes out, like you said, a flip of a switch! Thanks for this post, Liz. I just love reading your Shy Girl’s Manifesto series. xo

  3. Hayley says:

    i am loving your series on shy girls because i relate so much and it feels as though you are giving a voice to a part of me that has been veiled in much confusion.

    this post reminds me of a quote i found this morning on twitter (from marie forleo):

    “First, decide what you truly want. Then, decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”- Bill Cosby

    that’s how it felt to me every time i stood up for something. i wanted it more than i was afraid of it.


  4. […] Being stuck in our own heads sometimes gets in the way making us feel weak, but put us in a situation that gets us out of our head, and quite frankly, we’re unstoppable.  […]

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