I am still shy. I am still self-conscious. Not as much as before, that is true, but still shy enough to make me wonder what it would be like to not be shy, to not be so aware of my movements. What is it like for those individuals -- women, especially -- to be confident of every move, every turn of their body, every gesture?

Can one outgrow shyness? Or is it something that one needs to work at overcoming?

It was a beautiful afternoon and I met an old friend for lunch. We hadn't seen each other in a few years so there was much to catch up on. It was a buffet-style luncheon and we sat close to the buffet table, much to my relief. It wasn't only that I wanted to be close to the food so that I could see the delicious spread and take in the aromatic spices. It was also because I wouldn't have to walk too many steps to the buffet table. There were hardly any people in the restaurant but obviously such thoughts were already in my head.

As I walked the few steps to the buffet table and wondered what else I should try, I immediately felt self-conscious of which way I should turn and how it would look to another. I knew that there were other customers at another table or two but not once did I look in their direction. I don't know why. It wouldn't have meant anything and it certainly wouldn't have been rude. But I was aware that I kept my head turned away from them and was very aware of my posture.

As I stood there, I wondered if others had similar experiences and why the heck I was still so shy and self-conscious. Shyness is a form of fear, so they say. And what is it that I am still fearful of?

Amazingly enough, I have outgrown most of my shyness. Life demands that I carry out my deeds and not merely daydream. Admittedly, I am still shy. I do look up more these days and am more aware of my surroundings. I know what is around me. And I experience people and places in ways that I never did before. And I am also aware that others look at me. And if it should happen, there are times when I'm quite confident, especially if it's from a distance. Then there are the times when I wonder if it's because there is something strange about me.

Why is there this tendency to hide? I don't like being in the spotlight but I know that I've survived when thrust into the public eye, whether it was planned or unexpectedly. I don't have to be spectacular to make a difference. I can do it quietly, with a new-found confidence and conviction that I am doing the right thing. That I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. And what might that be?

To love God and to serve Him. A pat answer, perhaps, from a cradle Catholic. But it is what I believe, even though I'm still struggling with my faith. As ridiculous as it may sound, I still find it difficult to trust Him totally.

I didn't mean to come down this path whilst writing about shyness. Or maybe I was meant to. It is sometimes odd how a page evolves, how one had a specific theme in mind but then it meanders down another road, unrelated yet linking to it. For it took me a while to finish this page. And maybe it took me this long because I had to find out more about myself in the meantime. It wasn't a conscious effort; they were more like tiny bits of realisation, an awakening, if you will. And what is it that I have found out?

I'm not really sure. I tell myself -- and others -- that I'm shy. These days, it sounds more of a cop out than a valid reason. I even tell myself that I'm afraid. And yes, there are times when I truly am.

What is it like to not be shy? What is like to be free of inhibitions? I am shy and inhibited in the presence of others. I am surrounded by people so being a hermit is not the answer (nor is it the lifestyle I wish to aspire to).

Maybe admidst all my feelings of inadequacy, shyness and inhibitions, He is telling me not to forget Him either, that He is the answer to all my questions and fears.

Another pat answer? No, I don't think so, not if it's the answer that I know in my heart.

Yes, I know, Father, even though I don't feel close to You. I feel other things and maybe that's why it's difficult sometimes to hear Your voice.

But still He calls. I both know and feel that too.


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