“It is downright unfathomable”

It is perfectly possible for a person to go through life quite happy and content, and yet never get over his/her fears of public performance, public speechmaking, etc. In contrast, it is downright unfathomable for a person to go through life incapable of comfortably interacting in informal social situations, and still remain happy and content. Simply put, shyness in purely informal social situations has a far more deleterious, damaging impact upon a person’s mental health and happiness than any other kind of shyness…..

In purely informal social situations… there is no “script” or “role” to learn. Purely sociable situations are inherently ambiguous by nature. They call for the participants to be themselves, and to be able to spontaneously improvise their performance as they go along…. People become themselves — develop a firm sense of identity — only through informal interaction from early childhood onward in informal friendship and kinship groups….

Since a person cannot learn a “script” or “role” in preparation for effective performance in purely friendly, sociable situations (which are in many ways inherently ambiguous), there is no easy way a person can gain the self-confidence he needs in order to test himself out. In doing the research necessary for delivering a stimulating public lecture, a person will inevitably gain quite a bit of self-confidence. At the outset he might be “scared shitless” about talking for an hour before a large audience about some subject. But the more he learns, the more he wants to share, and the faster and smoother his “script” manages to get put together….

Purely sociable situations do not allow for any such beforehand preparation. To most readers of this book “being friendly” in purely sociable situations seems to be “the most natural thing in the world”. To a severely shy man, on the other hand, it represents a far more frightening prospect than does assuming responsibility for any public lecture or public performance.

Brian G. Gilmartin, “Shyness & Love”, pp. 3-4.

Wow. I resemble that remark. (And I hate it — not the remark but my resemblance to it). I think passages like that are what provoked my interest in that book, even though I’m really not “love-shy” myself.



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