“Life opens up when you do.” While you wouldn’t expect to gain a valuable life lesson from a toothpaste commercial, Crest may have a point. As a particularly shy person, this is an idea that has taken some getting used to. What’s wrong with clinging to your friends at a party and hoping you don’t have to make small talk with the guys on the other side of the room? Is it so terrible that I have no desire to start a conversation with every person I happen to share an elevator ride with?
Many psychologists subscribe to the cognitive therapy approach to dealing with shyness and social anxiety. This just means that once someone is able to appreciate their shyness as a personality trait rather than a character flaw, he or she can begin to think about situations differently and become more comfortable with new people and experiences. The only time shyness becomes a problem is when it prevents you from living the life you want for yourself. Shyness becomes easier to master when you take baby steps. For instance, for one week I resolved to smile at a stranger or two every day on my way to class. Then, I might work my way up to striking up a conversation with someone on the elevator (I definitely haven’t gotten there yet). You never know who you’ll meet, or what the day will bring. Shying away from potential opportunities only leaves you stuck where you are, which ends up snowballing into the aforementioned loneliness, depression and self-criticism, which nobody wants. Every once in a while, the stars will align, but only if you’re ready for it to happen.
So here’s my point: you are way too amazing, pretty and smart (I mean, we do go to U of M) to deprive others of your overall awesomeness. If you’re shy, that’s totally okay, because it’s a part of who you are. But there is definitely an advantage to being able to put that aside when need be and live the life you’ve imagined for yourself. So go brush your teeth with some Crest toothpaste, open up, and life will too!