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Benefits of Being the Shy Child in the Family

Mother of two daughters and grandmother of seven, I strive to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance

I hope my experiences going through life as a shy person can help you if you have a similarly reserved personality.

I hope my experiences going through life as a shy person can help you if you have a similarly reserved personality.

There Are Many Aspects to Our Personality

With six siblings in our family, there were certainly a few defining characteristics that each of us children could lay claim to. My oldest sister was the dominant one, my eldest brother was the perfectionist, and I, the middle child, was the shy one.

I was fine around my immediate family members, but when other relatives or acquaintances came into my contact, I transformed into a very different child. My ability to speak disappeared, and if I didn't have the immediate ability to hide, then I literally melted into the nearest woodwork.

Although I am no longer shy, it was something that carried with me throughout my childhood and well into my early adulthood. It wasn't always an easy trait to deal with, but I do credit it for making me the person that I am today. There are detrimental aspects of shyness, but surprisingly there are also benefits. I am an introvert, intuitive, empathetic, and highly analytical. These are qualities that are often present in individuals who are shy.

I Have Always Been This Way

One of my earliest memories is leaning behind the door frame of our living room, where, half hidden from view and with two rooms between us, I could effectively spy on the goings on within our kitchen. In this early memory, there were visitors, and although I can see only a couple of the people in our kitchen I can hear perfectly what is being said. It isn't a happy meeting but one more in keeping with the resolving of an issue.

Like a tiny computer, I digest the images and vocal tones. I am a watcher, not a participant, and this allows me to take in scenes like others watch a movie. The short laugh of my father is different, and his hands move upward for a brief moment as a sign of frustration. My mother's offer of coffee sounds forced and angry. I watch the tiny tell-tale signs of their emotions as they play out before me.

I am analytical in my search for details. It is a mannerism that I always remember as having been part of my personality and a behavior that I will enact many times throughout my life. The search for emotional cues to evaluate a social scene is simply something that is in my nature to do. I don't believe it to be a learned behavior but rather a characteristic that I was born with. Where shyness is concerned, I believe that in the Nature versus Nurture question, nature definitely wins.


Potential Benefits of Being Shy

  • Shy people can be highly devoted to their work, making them excellent business people. Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, and Abraham Lincoln were shy.
  • We are analytical, so generally able to see all sides of an issue.
  • We are empathetic.
  • We are intuitive. Being watchers, we are able to pick up on small cues others may miss.
  • We are thoughtful, so less apt to be as impulsive as other individuals.
  • We are generally polite.
  • Shy people are generally good listeners.
  • We can be more approachable as we often have an air of innocence about us.
  • What we cannot effectively speak, we may express amazingly well in artistic or literary works. You may recognize the names Steven Spielberg, J.K.Rowling and Theodor Seuss Geisel (also better known as Dr. Seuss); these are all people who are shy.

We May Want to Be Part of the Crowd but Feel Uncomfortable Doing So

Shy people may or may not be introverts. Although we are generally quieter than extroverts, we, like any other individual, may or may not enjoy being in social settings. Shyness is not a defining characteristic of who is or isn't an introvert or extrovert at heart.

There is a definite difference between shyness and a social anxiety phobia. Shy people generally are not afraid of people, although we may be fearful of being placed in certain social situations. We may also feel uncomfortable when placed in the limelight or required to speak in a social or public setting.

Most people will outgrow, adapt, or seek therapy to relieve the negative effects being shy may cause them, so as we age, we tend to become somewhat more assertive persons. Those who do not and who remain excessively shy can face a variety of difficulties in their adulthood. Although shyness is not a social phobia, it can cause issues for those who suffer from it.

Detrimental Aspects

Shyness can, unfortunately, cause a variety of issues for those who suffer from it, and these can increase in intensity as these individuals age into unavoidable social settings such as school and work. In the teen years and in adulthood, reserved people are now required to successfully move into different types of relationships (business, friendship, romantic, etc.). It can be a challenge for some.

A feeling of loneliness or lack of inclusion can easily occur. Shy people often have a passive personality which can make it difficult to seek out or maintain a relationship. Also, to ensure that their role is fair generally requires an assertive personality, and this can leave the timid partner vulnerable to the wants of the more dominant personality. Bullies and abusive individuals may find us to be an easier target than more assertive individuals.

Our voice is not always heard. Being shy in the workforce can reduce the likelihood of promotion or advancement. Although our work ethic may be excellent, it is our quiet nature that can hold us back from advancement within the company. We may not tout our accomplishments as loudly as others would or demand our right to move upward in placement.

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Through the aid of peers (or by modeling them), we shyer individuals generally learn to become somewhat more assertive in nature. I found that I placed myself within settings that required I step up my game. Perhaps it was a self-enforced assertiveness training program. Counseling from teachers or other professionals can be helpful for others in their adaptation process.

I'm Okay Are You Okay?

I was shy as a child, but now not so much. I now classify myself as an assertive person, but like most introverts, I spend a lot of time alone, and that is my choice. If when I am out, I now talk too much, this could be because I still feel uncomfortable in the current social setting. I am not a social butterfly and would never choose to be, it is just not something that I am good at being. I enjoy attending parties and other social events occasionally, but please don't request my presence too often. I'd rather be home writing and I'm okay with that. It's who I am.


Ten Famously Shy People

Do Shy People Make the Best Writers

7 Reasons Why Shy People and Quiet People are Not the Same

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Lorelei Cohen

What is Your Personality Type?

Alexis on March 29, 2019:

Shy child, but it came naturally as both my parents and virtually every family member are shy. I've by and large grown out of it (especially at work because I have to be extroverted). Age is good about that. That said, I wish I'd been pushed out of my shell more (thank you teachers who helped with some of that!)

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on March 28, 2019:

Viewing the comments I am seeing a trend in the number of writers who were shy as children. Perhaps one of the reasons why we moved this direction. Our analytical nature and thoughtful ponderings would definitely be assets.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 28, 2019:

I was the middle child of six and was paralyzed by shyness as a child. When I went to college, I worked hard to overcome my shyness and now am considered outgoing by some friends. I do value my time alone though.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on March 28, 2019:

Thank you Margaret that is a wonderful compliment and I very much appreciate it. It is definitely in my nature to take in and analyze. It is certainly a characteristic many introverts have. Being less of a participant allows us time to examine all of the factors / sides in an equation.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on March 28, 2019:

Lorelei, you are one of the most thoughtful and analytical people I know, as well as one of the loveliest. Growing up quietly observant has served you well, my friend!

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on March 27, 2019:

Your shyness has been an asset to you in many ways. As I was reading through this I was remembering people I've known in my lifetime who I would consider shy as per your description, and they fit the way you describe it. When I was a little I was a shy. Maybe reserved is the word. But today, I'd say no I'm not. As soon as I get into a group situation I start talking it up. I'll talk to strangers in train stations, grocery stores. I attribute that to being cooped up with kids when they were little (not really) - but I do remember those days and talking the ear off any adult that knocked on my door. lol.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on March 27, 2019:

Flourish perhaps our work adventures are actually part of our adaption process. I found that I took positions which placed me in with the public although I actually prefer a quiet place in the background. I think it was a way to insure my shyness did not rule over me as an adult like it had in my childhood.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 27, 2019:

Although I’m naturally shy I can easily lead large organizations that require me to meet and greet and frequently interact with people seeking information, conflict resolution or support. Do I prefer to do it? Well, honestly, I’d rather not, but sometimes duty calls. I was painfully shy as a child and naturally gravitate towards situations of anonymity.

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