Why Being Shy Can Be an Advantage

Wood and rope wallpaper

After all this growing up, I still am so shy that I often have to make a conscious effort to push words out of me and interact with other people.

“Shyness is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness, especially when a person is around other people.” – Wikipedia

As a boy, I was so shy that I would hide away from anyone who visited us. I dreaded having to meet relatives or talk to people. I dreaded going out and playing with children. When I was out with the boys playing football, I was too shy to swear or to shoot the ball. I usually passed it as soon as I got it. I did not score many goals.

There were times when I wished I wasn’t so shy. Like when I’d see a beautiful girl at school. Someone less shy always claimed her.

“When he was younger, he used the slightest opportunity to slip away from people, without his being able to understand very clearly why he did so: a longing to break free and to breathe in the fresh air?” ― Patrick Modiano

Now, elevated to the age of 25 without having done anything in particular to deserve it, I don’t find shyness a disadvantage anymore. I’ve become better at controlling it. I can break free of it most of the time.

But I find that breaking free from shyness is not always the best thing to do. Being shy has its advantages.

  • When you’re shy, you’re less likely to be rude or mean. Words don’t come out of you easily, and so you can think them through.
  • You’re more of a listener than a speaker. People open up to you. “So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.” ― Sylvia Plath
  • You don’t always say what you mean, which can be good sometimes. Quite often, the things we mean to say don’t really help the discussion, only try to impose on it our point of view.
  • You get to hear the opposite sex say to you “You’re shy,” in a soft voice, which isn’t the worst thing to hear.
  • You often come across as more modest than you actually are.
  • You tend to think before you act, which is good most of the time, unless you think your way out of doing everything.
  • You can calm others through your quiet presence and help them to really be themselves, without openly judging them.
  • You can dedicate yourself to a solitary pursuit more easily.

Being shy is fine. Is great even. I wish I knew this earlier.

“Deep rivers run quiet.” ― Haruki Murakami

Are you shy? What do you do about your shyness?

23 thoughts on “Why Being Shy Can Be an Advantage

  1. I’ve become much more shy (I was always naturally more outgoing) in recent years, due to life circumstances. And while I agree about many of the points you make, about how it can be a good thing, I still dislike it. I don’t like feeling awkward and wondering what to say at times, and feeling like I probably just come across as stand-offish. And I don’t think it’s seen as being so attractive in women. I think men tend to be drawn to women who are a bit more sure of themselves.

  2. Sounds like being shy is your forte. 🙂 I have two family members who are extremely shy. My father used to be so shy that he couldn’t even give his mother a kiss when he got home from school! The points you list are satisfying to read – I think the world needs more shy people 🙂

  3. I know that I’m extremely shy. I always thought of it as a crutch throughout most of my time in high school and college because I feel like I’m always missing out. I always think, “If only I were more outgoing…” At the same time, I abhorred the idea of being the center of attention and whenever I got that long coveted spotlight, I run away from it. I agree with all your points about the advantages of being shy and am quite content with my status as a wallflower.

  4. I used to be painfully shy when I was in High school. I did not like it. Now, am a bit shy…which makes me seem conservative at times and more loud in my writing.

  5. I have been shy most of my whole life, and people misinterpreted it .I now in the recent years have forced myself to break the shell a little its hard but its getting better and im meeting a lot of new people from it ..I force myself to do something I would not normally do like eat at a restaurant by myself. G

  6. I really appreciated this little piece, it is great to read about this side of people. This topic isn’t talked about much, people like this can be misunderstood.

  7. Good points, but American society is structured for the more extraverted which is a hard thing to navigate. For the most part shyness depends on what situation one finds themselves in.

  8. They say music is made not from the notes but the spaces in between the notes. The word shy has developed a negative quality in society but in fact it is a complimentary tone. I have always hated being shy until one day I learned the importance of being a good listener for a friend. I don’t know who appreciated it more between the two of us. From that moment on I embraced the quiet. The quiet can get too loud for extroverts. Its full of questions and minute details. For the rest of us introverts it is a freedom to explore – a world to inhabit.

  9. I’ve long since accepted that being shy is part of who I am and am happy with it, but no one has ever pointed out the advantages quite so nicely 🙂 thanks for the post 🙂

  10. I accept that I am shy. I am awkward. I don’t want to talk to people I am not comfortable with, I mean not my types. I feel hesitate with them, asking for advice or help. I feel disconnected with most parts of society I am living. But I love being alone, just be with myself. I can do whatever I want. I don’t need consensus to do so. I think not many people have interest as mine. So yeah, why not lead ourselves rather than following so-called outspoken people. I do enjoy it.

  11. I am an introvert. I have been a shy quiet person my whole life. I wish that sometimes I wasn’t. I find it odd that most of my life I have worked in customer service, so talking and communicating well with others is a must. My work personality is way different than my home personality. In the school, I would nearly break down into tears and take an F when we had to do open book reports in class. It takes me a hot minute to warm up to someone and open up. What would this world be like if we were all extroverts?

  12. I feel your pain ..I missed out in a lot of opportunities because of my shyness . I work with the public so it’s getting better but oh my when I was younger it was real bad .i know it’s hard i struggle with it still sometimes but you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone .bBt steps you can do this

  13. Your blog is a refreshingly positive outlook on issues I and many others find quite crippling and pretty hopeless about day in day out. Very happy I came across it, thanks for sharing

  14. Really great how you accepted your shyness and found a lot of positive things about it. You are completely right about it. I have been very, very shy all my life, even more when I was a child and now I have found out that I suffer from social phobia. Maybe you should check that, too, and a good psychologist can help a lot. The older you get, the better it gets. Good luck.

  15. Great article, thank you for sharing the advantages of shyness 🙂 I didn’t thought about many benefits you stated. I used to think that not expressing yourself very much was a flaw, because I couldn’t really engage in conversation. But as you wrote, listening is also very important. And it’s also being part of a conversation in a more internal way.

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