Margaret Cho on shyness

This post on Margaret Cho’s blog is ultimately about Bush and the Republican convention, but more interesting to me were her comments at the beginning on her struggle with shyness:

I am a painfully shy person.
This poses many challenges of course, especially because I have put myself in a very un-shy profession, which forces me not only to speak in front of thousands of strangers daily, it constantly brings me into the company of people I have never met before.
It is difficult for me to have conversations, which is something that I am actively seeking to change. Whenever I am put in a situation where I am sharing a space with someone I don’t know, I try to get to know them, almost aggressively, as if I could make up for all those years of self imposed isolation.
It is strange how we can be solitary in the midst of crowds of people. I have lived this way for my entire life. Aloneness is not an uncomfortable thing for me, in fact, it feels a bit too much like home. So I attempt to venture out as much as I can. Of course, there is a natural resistance to it, but fighting my own nature in this case I believe is a positive thing. Besides, I am learning a tremendous amount.

A lot of this is very familiar (and may sound familiar to my regular readers). I’ve found that the aggressiveness she talks about is an important part of the strategy—not in the sense of having an aggressive tone in conversation, but being aggressive in seizing opportunities to interact with people, where I would ordinarily be restrained by shyness. There’s a snowball effect during even a moment of hesitation wherein my doubts multiply to overwhelm my self-confidence, but it I jump into the situation I’ll end up concentrating on what I’m doing rather than dwelling on these self-defeating thoughts. The trick is recognizing that shyness is about to kick in, and having the courage to run ahead of it…

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