Growing up, I was extremely shy. In grade school, I would not say a word to teachers or peers. I would literally nod my head or point in response to a question. Because I refused to talk, I didn’t make friends, so I was always alone. Not only that, but I ended up being bullied by peers, in their attempt to get me to talk. Needless to say, those attempts didn’t work. I simply would run away or physically fight back and after school, sometimes, I would cry.
I didn’t begin to come out of my shell until middle school. By then, I was verbally responsive, making friends and participating in after school clubs. In high school, I was still pretty quiet, but I managed to make a few friends and participated in activities that forced me to speak up. It was during my Sophomore year of high school that I discovered my love for spoken word poetry. I always say that spoken word poetry gave me the courage to say everything I’d been to afraid to say. I went on to perform and tied for 1rst place in the talent show Junior year. I continued to write and perform spoken word as a way to express myself through college and post graduation. It was through that, that I found courage, and discovered my desire to motivate people and a love for socializing and being on stage.
As you can imagine, people who saw me step on stage, performing spoken word for the first time were surprised. That is a common response of those who were used to the shy girl, who never talked. I am blessed to have found the courage to step out and share what I am most passionate about with others. No longer does shyness hold me back from doing what requires me to be social and at the forefront.
If you are shy and find that your shyness is hindering you from putting yourself out there, I want you to know that it is possible to overcome! I want you to know exactly what I did to overcome my shyness.
The way that I was able to overcome my shyness, step on stage and perform spoken word without a hint of nervousness, was by doing this: shifting my mindset. I know, all I talk about it mindset, but hear me out on this one.
It all began with a shift in focus & perspective. When your mindset changes, your perspective “thoughts & beliefs” change. My thoughts and beliefs about me performing poetry that I’d written changed. I focused all of my attention and nervous energy on the message and purpose of the poem and the reason why I wanted to perform spoken word. I wrote poetry to share my story and to inspire people. I knew that in order to do that, I would have to perform at my best. I knew that if I let my nervousness take over, it would distract the audience from really hearing what I had to say. I believed that what I had to say was important and that I had to put shyness, doubt, fear and insecurity to the side. The purpose behind my desire became bigger and more important than my fears. I shifted my mindset and then I took action, leaving no room for negativity. I overcame shyness and found courage to do what I love, by doing THAT every time.
To this day, whenever I have to speak or perform in front of a group of people, I remind myself of the purpose. I focus all of my attention on that! For me, it works like magic. You know what, I tend to be less nervous the larger an audience tends to be. My guess, is that mentally, the sense of urgency increases for me, because there are more people who will hear what I have to say, more people to inspire. If you struggle with shyness, try shifting your focus. Share your thoughts in the comments below!