I still remember walking up onto the stage, ready to play some classical piece on the piano (the name escapes me now).
I had just been sitting down with a younger friend of mine who looked up to me as a mentor.
I had assured her and encouraged her that she could play her piece at this piano recital where adults were watching us and she had seemed super-scared.
And so, she had gone on up, done her bit, done it really well…
And now it was my turn to shine.
I heard my name. I walked up slowly, feeling the eyes on me, feeling the cloud of panic descend on my 11-year-old self.
And I finally sat down at the grand piano, put my very thick and wooden-feeling fingers on the keys -- and fumbled.
I could see the piece of music in front of me, but I could not remember any of the hours of practice. I was overcome with shyness, with fear, and I panicked.
I could see the confusion in my mum’s eyes as she watched on. She knew I knew what to do, and she hoped I would not shame her. But I felt paralyzed. My shyness had overcome me at the worst possible time.
Thankfully, in that moment, all those hours of practice came to the rescue.
My fingers gained a life of their own and they played a tune that was not on the agenda but one that they remembered because I actually loved this piece – some rocky, modern tune, definitely not in fitting with the occasion but it meant I played something, rather than sitting there like a fool!
My teacher was slightly confused and looked at the music to make sure I had the right piece in front of me but there was no going back now. I just let my fingers do their thing while my emotions settled down a little and longed to run off the stage.
Thankfully, I finished and none of the audience members guessed that I was so nervous. They even claimed to have enjoyed my rocky interlude, as it broke up the boring classical tunes my colleagues and I had been forced to learn and crank out.
This was just one incident where my shyness reared its ugly head at the most inopportune moment, and more often than not, it didn't turn out so well.
To look at me now, you would never guess that I used to be so shy growing up. Until my early twenties, I wanted to hide, to never ever be seen. Yes, I had all the big dreams and ideas that I have now, but I was too shy to have ever made them happen.
You may be experiencing chronic shyness, too scared to put yourself out in the world, holding back from doing all the things you dream of, staying alone when you would rather be in relationship.
But the idea of being seen scares the living daylights out of you, and so you live a life of longing for more but never quite able to reach it.
Fortunately, shyness isn't a life sentence. You can practice skills to help you push past the discomfort and fear to feel more confident and self-assured.