To my shy child,
I see you. I know that many other people don’t see you. You are hiding behind my leg, not offering your name when asked. You are the last one of your friends to go down the slide; not because you are scared of the slide, but because there are too many people crowded around at the top. Instead of making all the noise and trying to get all the attention, you are standing on the sidelines watching and observing. A lot of people miss seeing you because you aren’t commanding all the attention at all times. But I want you to know that I see you.
I hear you. People tell me all the time that they have never heard you say a word. I have to chuckle at this because I know that you say many, many words. I know that you are bursting full of words, but you are choosing when and who you will share them with. I love this about you because I know that you will always be careful with your words. I love that you don’t hand your words out like they are free, instead you are careful who you share with. I love that I am your safe place and that your words never stop when you are around me.I know that sometimes you struggle to make your voice heard, but you never have to worry about me ignoring you. I hear you.
I worry about you. I see you on the playground and I know that you will choose to miss out on a game simply because of the amount of people who are already participating. I worry that other kids will see that you are reserved and take advantage of it. I worry that someone will treat you like a doormat. I worry that you won’t speak out your feelings or be assertive. I worry that someone will make fun of you for this and look down on you. I worry about you.
I am proud of you. I saw you the other day, saying “hello” out loud to another child. My heart almost burst with pride because I know how brave you were to utter that one word. I am proud of you when you choose to participate in an activity with a lot of other people, because I know that it’s not your safe spot, but you chose to do it anyways! I am proud of you when you stand back and watch other people play. You sometimes utter the most profound things about a child (he’s sad or she’s hungry) that most kids your age wouldn’t notice even if someone else pointed it out first. I am so proud of you.
You have a gift. Some people will tell you that being shy and reserved is a bad thing. People will tell you that you need to come out of your shell. They will tell you that you can never be a leader or a good example if you aren’t “loud and proud”. But I’m here to tell you that isn’t the truth. Just look at your Daddy. Or your Grandma. They are both reserved and introverted, but can command a room with just one sentence. They don’t waste frivolous words on unnecessary things and when they do speak up, it is always with something so profound that even the loud-mouths stop talking. You have this, too, my shy one, and that is an incredible gift.
I want you to remember these things the next time that someone tries to tell you that being shy is a weakness. In our culture, the one who is the loudest often gets the most attention and praise, but they are not always the most influential or praiseworthy. Sure, there are always things that you can work on and sometimes you do need to step out of your comfort zone and go for it. However, please always remember that you can still command a room and influence others by being quiet and observant. My shy child, you have a gift.
And I’m so glad that you have that gift.