Shyness has been looked down upon in our culture. To be shy is equivalent to being publicly incapacitated. But is it true that all shy people suffer from social anxiety? The answer is simply no. Some people are withdrawn and “shy” by nature, others, however, experience anxiety in social situations. The latter group definitely benefit from reducing their shyness and consequently their social anxiety.
Most shy people have trouble networking. Nowadays, this could be devastating, not only to their social lives, but also to their careers. While the saying goes ‘nice guys finish last’, but in reality it would be more accurate to say that ‘shy guys finish last.’ Overcoming your anxiety in social situations could mean more job opportunities, or even more success at your present job. Consider all the successful people in your workplace; you know those who seem to ‘move up the ladder’ faster than the rest. Are they well-connected and socially gifted? More often than not this will be the case. Being able to attend company cocktails in style, and perhaps even telling a few jokes to make your boss laugh, helps in adding to your image as a confident, well-liked, person which, in turn, earns you bonus points in your career.
The more obvious, but nonetheless important, advantage is the increase in the number of friends that you have. It is true that many shy people have meaningful, lasting, long-term friends-you know, like the friend they met back in middle school-but they often lack the casual, sometimes more fun, acquaintances. While having a best friend you can confide in is essential for your mental health, having a few friends you can go out and have worry-free fun with is truly refreshing and has long-term benefits on your mood and disposition. It is a vicious cycle: the more friends you have, the more likable you feel-and that makes you happier. And the happier you feel, the more likely you are to seek social contacts from outside your regular circle.
Perhaps the most important advantage to beating social anxiety and overcoming shyness is the soaring self-esteem that comes with overcoming our own shortcomings. Shy people often suffer from low self-esteem because of the social isolation they feel and the anxiety that comes with attending social situations. This lack of self-esteem may even lead to a constant, low-grade, unhappiness with their current social situation. If this goes on for long enough, it could lead to depression-especially if the person that suffers from social anxiety is not blessed with a support network in his/her life. Because of the nature of shyness and social anxiety, people around you might make you feel like it is your fault; it is all in your hands; or that “you should just get out more.” You end up feeling that there is something innately wrong with you.
But, when you overcome your shyness and you beat your social anxiety, you will be overjoyed with the new sense of control you have over your life. Indeed, your life will be much happier with your new-found confidence in social situations.