Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Challenge delay’ Category

The Shy Label

In Challenge delay, Shelley Widhalm, Shyness on October 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

The word SHY used to be a label I branded into my identity. I considered myself too shy to do certain things, like network at a party or approach an interesting person (in a safe location like a coffee shop) to start a conversation.

I initiated a shyness challenge earlier this year to take specific steps to overcome my shyness, but for the past two or three months, I haven’t created a challenge for the week.

That’s probably because I don’t think of myself as shy anymore.

However, this past week I realized I have become comfortable in my routines and tend to choose being alone over trying too hard to be sociable if it requires work on my part. I weigh the costs and think, nah. Why, I don’t know.

I do know that I’m an introvert with some extroverted tendencies, like wanting to be around people on a daily basis and to connect with them through talking and doing things together. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t need that alone time but always wanted to go out and, even if I was the quiet one, to be in the presence of others.

In the past 20-plus years, I lived in 10 cities at 12 different addresses and had to start over with each move. I withdrew as I encountered difficulties with making and finding friends. I had to figure out things to do alone because I let shyness keep me from trying too hard, the reason different – actual shyness instead of liking my alone comfort.

With my last move two months before I started the challenge, I wanted “to fix” myself and get rid of the word I used to describe myself, one that, I’ve since noticed, no one else uses.

I don’t have social anxiety or fear of new and awkward situations.

I would say my challenge for next week is to approach someone I haven’t met yet to get myself out of my comfortable routine of letting things happen. I’m not being active but reactive, comfortable in my state of not thinking of myself as shy.

Reaching for the Next Bar

In Challenge delay, Shyness on July 10, 2011 at 7:00 am

I took my not-so-broken heart to another bar to try out my challenge for this week.

The barometer for my heart status, to my surprise, was that I didn’t care about A’s newest Facebook photo (A is for, you know). Okay, I take that back, it’s not his fault that he finds me boring, or whatever he thought.

Maybe it’s mine, or at least in part. After A went back to the really boring state where he lives (it’s not New York or California, let’s say), I realized that I wasn’t exactly having fun reading books all of the time to avoid life.

So to defibrillate my heart, I went to a bar a week or so ago. The handsome man that I wanted to approach me didn’t, though plenty of drunks did. I went to another bar on Friday night, researched the premises for top handsome man and passed by my chance for conversation when he stood next to me at the bar top to order a draft.

I did my usual self-talk of, oh he probably has a girlfriend, or he’ll think I’m boring (see Mr. A above), or I won’t be his type. The rejection will be just awful, and I’ll have to put my face on some wall of rejected women of shame.

Over the course of an hour, I saw him with guys a few times, and then with a woman, and I did the mental self-kick for letting another opportunity pass me by. Not that I expected this handsome unknown to become my next drool, because I was in a bar after all. I’m just disappointed that even with the excuse of my blog to go ahead and do something outside of my shy zone, I couldn’t find the courage to do it.

I’ll have to try again.

But I don’t want to keep going to the bars, particularly by myself.

For one, I like to be in bed by 10 or 11. Plus, I don’t like what alcohol does the next morning. Granted that on Friday, I had my one drink, scanned the room, talked to a few people I know from my job as a reporter and slinked across the street back to my apartment.

So my challenge for next week is to do that one thing I want without the inner negative dialogue preventing me from taking action.

Defining Shyness

In Challenge delay, Shyness on June 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

It’s probably about time for a shyness challenge. Originally, I set out to do one a week but overcoming shyness and taking the steps to do so takes work, discipline and motivation.

Shyness for me is feeling apprehension, discomfort and awkwardness in certain social situations, including:

* Attending a party and not knowing anyone besides the hostess.

* Entering a room full of strangers where I need to talk to someone, particularly when I have to conduct an interview for work.

* Participating in a group activity with more than two others, such as eating out or going to a club.

As I read on the Internet, shy people avoid the situations that cause them apprehension. They perpetuate their shyness by not confronting it.

I am doing the same thing with my challenge by not thinking of new ways to confront my shyness. I don’t like the rapid heartbeat and fast pulse, along with the unease, I experience when I try something new.

In situations where I feel shy, I don’t know what to say or how to act and fear that I might be boring. However, I have learned how to make eye contact and no longer cross my arms over my chest and am quick to smile. Through my reporting experience, I have learned how to ask conversational questions and to draw people out to keep the conversation going.

I’ve come a long way in overcoming my shyness.

However, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely free of it, especially if I avoid doing what I set out to do. To get back on track, my challenge for next week is to do whatever I encounter in the next week that makes me shake inside.


In Challenge delay, Novel editing, Shyness on April 17, 2011 at 8:53 am

I make these challenges every week that are intended to help me overcome my shyness. Half of the time, I come up with an excuse or a delay tactic. I think that’s a self-protective measure, because really, it’s easier to be shy.

My challenge for this past week was to buy someone coffee who was standing in front of or behind me in line or to do something nice for another person. I did a couple of nice things for people, like taking my mom out on errands (but I do that every week) and offering up my dog for petting sessions when I’m out on walks. She just loves anyone and everyone, but that’s a given.

So, here’s my excuse: I forgot to open my eyes and notice who was in front of or behind me in line. Isn’t that sad? I got so caught up in working hard at work, editing my novel and doing what needed to get done, that I forgot to pay attention. Sure, I noticed when it was sunny or cloudy this past week (it even snowed one day) and that the trees were finally budding. But I didn’t look around for a possible opening for a nice hello, a simple chat or buying someone coffee.

I remembered to do so once this past week, but then I thought that I would be putting myself out there. What if this stranger thinks I’m weird? I know the pay-it-forward concept has happened with people buying Starbucks for the person behind them in line or at the drive-through, but I somehow found it hard to join in. I somehow conveniently forgot my goal once I was inside the coffee shop waiting in line.

Just like in a conversation with a few people talking, unless I’m among close friends, I don’t know when, how and where to add my comments. I just start listening, waiting for a pause – sometimes I get a word in, and then I go back to listening. In other words, I take the easy way out. I think, “I’m shy. I don’t have to try.”

Wrong! My challenge for next week is to pay attention to conversations and to be more involved in them, plus buy someone coffee.

Coffee Break, Or Not?

In Challenge delay, Coffee shops, Reuniting with Zoey, Shyness on March 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

I’m girl with dog again following two weeks separation. Zoey stayed with my dad while I worked on editing my novel. I got through the first edit, spending about 35 hours on it. I wouldn’t have gotten that much done if I had Zoey with me, because after work, I need to take her on a walk, play with her and give her some dog-and-me time.

After I posted my last blog, I realized I didn’t follow through on my shyness challenge to ask someone out to coffee. I had my eye out for possibilities during the last two weeks and found myself coming up with excuses.

If I interviewed someone interesting while reporting, I thought, well, they might think I’m coming on too strong or crossing some professional boundary. I considered coworkers until a couple of women asked me to lunch and another group asked me to dinner – the result was I didn’t make the first move.

I haven’t met anyone new otherwise, yet another excuse. I guess it’s because I’m hiding in my shell. I talked with my brother about it, and he said he wanted to approach somebody on Friday about something social and instead got a lot done.

What do we do?

It’s easy to come up with excuses, to think that sitting at home or reading a book is preferable to taking a chance, but is it?

Zoey, the most outgoing dog I’ve met, loves to go up to new people for potential pets. I need to do the same, except what I would be doing is saying a simple, “Hello. How about coffee?”

It can’t be that hard. Right? So next week, I cannot hang onto my ready-made excuse list.

The still small voice of childhood

In Alone, Challenge delay, Going out on February 13, 2011 at 10:45 am

Again, I didn’t fulfill my challenge this week to go to a nightclub by myself. As boring as it may sound, I had my pajamas on after visiting an art show in downtown, and thought, “Oh yeah, my plan.” I was curled up with a book and my dog on my lap. No way was I going back out.

On Saturday night, I didn’t feel good. I think I might have eaten gluten, something I’m not supposed to have because I’m gluten intolerant. In essence, I had an excuse, albeit a lousy one.

After talking with my mom, I realized that the challenge is too big of a step at this point in trying to finish overcoming my shyness, if such a thing is ever possible. I am putting off the nightclub visit until this summer.

Another reason for not wanting to go the club is I like dressing up to go out, and this winter, it’s been cold, sweater weather. When I was in my twenties and into my thirties, I did go clubbing with friends and wore short skirts out, even in the winter months. But now, I feel old and not so adventurous – though that former wild side remains, albeit in a crumbled ball of want in a small corner of my soul, like a piece of paper with long forgotten memories trying to unfold.

I went clubbing then as part of a group, not having to brave it alone. But it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a club like that. I’m not flying solo, however. I notice the same thing happening to my friends, especially those who are married and have children. That wildness leaves for calmer activities, like getting dinner or going for coffee.

Does anyone miss that need to be crazy, if only for a Friday or Saturday night? Is it like missing being a child when you’re an adult, wanting to run and scream and swing or slide in a playground?

My challenge for next week is to do something that makes me feel young again, even if it’s only for a few minutes, to remember how it felt to be my whole real self without a side hidden away because I’m an adult.