I was outside, looking in. Or I was inside myself, peering out into a world that was both inviting and a little challenging.

I read, I wrote, I observed, and for the most part, I kept things to myself. I shared with very few. It was also difficult for me to articulate my thoughts and feelings. It still is at times. I suppose some things never really change.

Thank goodness I have improved. Thank goodness ... yes.

It is different now, and yet, not so different. I am more willing to share, more willing to divulge a secret or two. I was never very good with spoken words so I wrote instead.

There are a lot of "I's" in these pages, and especially in this page alone, but then I suppose that's what it's all about. For it is time to speak, to tell, to share, to encourage, even to console. It is time to come out of this shell, the private self that has been protecting me, shielding me, all these years. But it's also hampered me, crippled me.

I once bought a book about shyness, or overcoming shyness. I was a much younger woman and it actually intrigued me that such a book existed. I probably still have it although I don't know where it is at the moment. Put away and forgotten. It made for some interesting reading, I admit, and I found out that there were two kinds of shyness: public shy and private shy. And I supposed that I fell under the public shy category as I was usually more than willing to hide myself away. I wasn't the lone ranger. There were many of us, men and women alike, with crippling shyness. Again, it made for interesting reading but that was about it. And I think I even felt a little shy, embarrassed, about buying the book. Imagine it. A shy person feeling a little too shy to buy a book about overcoming shyness. Unless I have it confused with another memory, I think I even asked my younger brother to pay for it at the counter.

I am a keeper of secrets. And I kept one secret very well. It's no longer a secret, and yet, it still is. My once private thoughts are now public knowledge. My once private deeds are now brought out into the open.

But they are not really so public nor are they left out in the open for all. It appears that I am still careful. I didn't think that anybody really knew who I was when I was younger. Or maybe I thought I did for I usually saw myself through their eyes.

I didn't think that anybody really cared to know who I was. There were a few individuals who did and I suppose they were the ones that really mattered. But I admit that I did want to be known. And maybe I still do. No maybe's about it. I know that I still do. I kept quiet for so long. Nothing wrong with being quiet. But I wasn't merely quiet. I was painfully shy. And a little scared.

I am not so shy anymore. Correction. I am not as shy as I used to be. Thank goodness for that. Thank goodness ... yes.

And I am not so scared anymore. Or perhaps what I should say is that I am not as scared as I used to be.

It is easier to write truths than to live them. But how wonderful and liberating if one could live those truths. It is easier to write about overcoming fears than to actually overcome them. I once lived within walls of my own making. I sometimes think that I still do.

I am open in the privacy of my own home. And I am private when I am out in the open. And I think I write these pages because I want to build a bridge between the two. And you know what? I think I am getting there. Slowly, perhaps, and I even sometimes hold myself back, afraid to push myself further. There is a tug-of-war being played and I am on both ends.

In time, each word ... each syllable ... each alphabet ... will pave the way for me. Some bridges take a long time to be built.


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