Saturday, October 28, 2006


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.


yaxdfcph said...

so nicely said. perhaps if more people understood "shyness" it would help those who struggle with it.

Jenny Rough said...

My thoughts exactly! Beautifully said!

Michelle O'Neil said...

My daughter often dsescribes herself as "shy."

"I'm feeling shy," she'll say and I've learned not to force her into the social situation but let her hang back until she is ready.

I think the quiet ones, like you, like her, are our wisdom holders. Taking it all in, processing.

The rest of us are often too busy yapping to learn!

Love your imagery in this piece. Love that there are people like you!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Ditto Michelle. Thanks for helping me understand "shyness", something that is foreign to me, but important to really "get".

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Ditto Michelle. Thanks for helping me understand "shyness", something that is foreign to me, but important to really "get".

Terry Whitaker said...

Thank you for helping us blabberers gain some much needed appreciation for the wisdom of the quiet.

Beautifully rendered!

PsychoBabble said...

I can certainly relate! That took courage. You just revealed a very private, personal part of yourself and I am in awe. Shy is stupid. I was very shy as a child and less so now, until what I have to say Really matters. Then all that old stuff comes right back.
I am so glad for you to have this forum in which to write now and to share, because your words are beautiful. You are publishable.