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How Growing Up Shy Helped Me Flourish Into The Extroverted Person I Am Today

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If you’re like me, and was shy as a kid, you may agree that it is an interesting experience, but can build a lot of character. That was my experience anyway. That being said, I know not everyone was shy as a kid and as someone who is loud and outspoken now, I also realize that it can be hard to understand why some people are more introverted. Having been on both sides of the spectrum, I want to describe what it’s like and how I made the switch and grew from being shy. 

Growing up, I would always hide behind my mother’s leg when she was talking to people or when I was meeting someone new. It felt safe, but also juxtaposed with my mom, who could command a room with just a sentence given she was a teacher. I think it worried my parents a bit since they are so loud and could not understand why I didn’t speak up. They even got me evaluated by a professional to make sure nothing was wrong with me. 

Being shy in school especially comes with its own obstacles. Once a speech teacher took me into her classroom and asked me to say the word “jam.” Being the studious child I was, I obliged and pronounced the word perfectly. She stared at me for a minute and said “you’re free to go.” The next day I was put into a small classroom to work with other kids on my socialization skills. It was definitely weird because a lot of these kids had real behavioral problems while I was just shy. I had my own unique ways of overcoming this gap though. I remember my parents telling me that in pre-school my best friend at the time, Sophia, would always speak for me telling teachers and friends what I wanted to say. My parents called her my little lawyer. 

I would watch the world around me a lot — I was almost judgmental in a way. When I heard what some kids would say I would internally think “they’re wrong” or “they’re so smart and cool,” but I never had the courage to actually voice these opinions. I think it got a bit tiring and that’s when I decided maybe it’s time to speak up. As soon as I did I saw just how much support I was getting from everyone who listened. I think my teachers were proud too because they knew I was a smart kid, but never expected that I would actually bring my writer’s voice into the classroom. I do owe a lot of this encouragement to my teachers, specifically the ones I had in second and fourth grade.

If you know me now, you know that I never shut up. My mom sometimes jokes saying “I wish we could turn the tables back.” In fact, I now dream of being a news broadcaster. I literally want to speak in front of a live TV audience. It’s ridiculous to think how much I’ve changed. I’m definitely still a bit introverted from time to time and most certainly have a social battery that makes me crave alone time, but I now know how much fun it is to be able to converse with friends and happily meet new people.

If you are struggling yourself with being too shy, my advice would be to take a chance and say what you want to say. It can be a scary leap, but you will almost always have people in your corner. Choose your words wisely and I can promise that people are really interested and want to hear your thoughts and opinions. 

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Kate Katz

U Mass Amherst '24

Kate is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a New Yorker at heart. She is a double major in Journalism and Communication and hopes to work in the broadcast field. Kate also writes for several other UMass publications. She is so grateful to be able to share her work with such a wide audience of readers.