1. SHY, BASHFUL, DIFFIDENT imply a manner that shows discomfort or lack of confidence in association with others.
2. SHY implies a constitutional shrinking from contact or close association with others, together with a wish to escape notice:
3. BASHFUL suggests timidity about meeting others, and trepidation and awkward behavior when brought into prominence or notice: a bashful child.
4. DIFFIDENT emphasizes self-distrust, fear of censure, failure, etc., and a hesitant, tentative manner as a consequence.
“She’s shy,” my mother would say.
“She’s shy,” my teachers would say.
“I’m trapped,” I would correct them inside of my head.
It’s a stupid word…shy.
It’s a word everyone uses to explain why someone doesn’t talk. I think they assume there is nothing to say, but my head is always bursting with thought. I become good at tending these thoughts; collecting and saving them so that they are not wasted.
Other people let the thoughts come in and rebound right back out of their mouths. They have something to say and assume that I don’t. The door to my mouth remains on lockdown and my head becomes crowded.
Each thought that comes in is like a tiny seed and I carefully plant and water it. As it sprouts, I prune and weed and allow it to twist and wrap around until the moment when it finally comes into bloom.
I’m happy in this garden of thoughts.
I long to share them and I do so carefully with a chosen few. Growing up, my mother is the main recipient of my bouquets. She is safe. She understands that I could not, after toiling in the soil and tending so diligently, simply pluck off and hand over the blossom like a two-year-old yanking the head off a tulip. No, I need to share it from the roots up. To start where the seed was planted and take it all the way to bloom.
As I grow older, some of the walls around me begin to crumble. With close friends and in small groups I begin to ease open my mouth. Still, new situations, big groups and big personalities leave me diffident. I garden ferociously behind my crumbling wall, digging new beds and producing new varieties.
As I learn to invite people in to share my treasured botanicals, I discover that not everyone is like my mother and wishes to share from the roots up. The world is filled with blossom pluckers; get to the point people. Efficient talkers who prefer to say the most in the least amount of words and expect the same in conversation. I am not good at this back and forth plucking and swapping, and I retreat back into my garden.
And so I write. Here I can plant and water and prune and blossom and need not pluck the heads off of my thoughts. I can pull up by the roots, shake off the dirt, and arrange my garden as it pleases me. Flower-haters need not enter the gates. You are welcome to wander and take as you please; no blossom plucking allowed.