In the six years since college graduation, I've learned a few things — not including how to roast vegetables, or that New York City post offices are to be avoided at all costs.
Consider them more ... hard truths about life.
I'm not for a moment saying I know close to everything, or even most things. In fact, I probably don't even know what I don't know. (Wait for my follow-up post a decade from now: "Everything I thought I'd learned by age 28 was completely wrong.")
But along the way, a few things have become clear to me.
There's no such thing as 'shy'
Growing up, I wouldn't ever raise my hand in class because everyone would look at me. I was that kid who covered her ears when people sang "happy birthday." I blushed at the drop of the hat (I still do) and I never accepted anything adults offered me because I was desperate not to inconvenience them.
I was shy.
But one day — I can't put my finger on when — I realized that "shy" is not an excuse that carries into adulthood. Think back to the last time you saw an acquaintance who didn't say hi, or you hung out with someone who didn't say more than two sentences in a group. Remember the person who wouldn't meet your eyes, or mumbled, or gave you one of those awful limp-wrist handshakes.
Did you think "oh, that poor person, he/she must be shy!" No, you didn't. You thought something along the lines of: "What a jerk."
Eventually, no matter how hard it is, you have to consider how your shyness makes the people around you feel and how it makes them view you. It isn't good. At some point, you just have to get over it.
(I understand it's a different issue for people with severe and diagnosed social anxiety, and I can't begin to imagine how that feels. This insight is for those with garden-variety anxiety — of the ducking-down-grocery-store-aisles-to-not-say-hi type.)
Nothing will change if you don't change anything
I tell myself this whenever an opportunity is on the horizon: a new project, a new job, a new date, a new apartment.
If you want something different, it's up to you to go out and seek it. You can wait for a change to fall into your lap, but you're probably going to be waiting a long time — and frankly, the type of changes that fall into your lap are rarely good.
Everything is temporary
On a similar note, everything is temporary. You will only be this age, living here, with this job, with this team, in this state of health, in this state of mental health, for so long.
You could choose to see this as a bad thing (Happiness is fleeting! Things will never be this good again!), but I consider it reassuring in two ways. Firstly, knowing that your life won't always be this good forever inspires gratitude for the things that are going well right now. Secondly, if things aren't good, you can take comfort in knowing that things won't always be so bad.
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