As a homeschooling mom and a formerly shy little girl, the thing I struggle with most is letting my shy little son be shy. I feel like by homeschooling I’m marching him down the path toward that ugly stereotype of the homeschooler who can’t interact with other humans because he never “got socialized” at school. But in my heart I know that public school is traumatizing for shy kids because it was traumatizing for me. I wet my pants through junior high because I was too embarrassed and shy to ask to go to the bathroom. As a kid I had an easier time relating to the adults in my life than the kids in those hallways, and my son is the same way.
When I take my son to the playground, he immediately asks to leave the minute any other kid shows up. Stranger danger! But when we go on nature hikes with a small homeschooling group, he laughs and plays, and has a great time with the other kids. When we go to playgrounds and the presence of other kids makes it hard for him to want to play, the moments that fill us up the most are sneaking off to the perimeter to have close encounters with nature.
The other day, the red-winged blackbirds kept talking to us, and there were plopping little painted turtles on the logs by the lagoon. There were huge softshell turtles that kept poking their heads out of the water as they swam along. I showed my son the different prairie plants coming up in the riparian plantings the city had put in and Oh! Look, a monarch landing on a milkweed plant!! My kid went through the playground maze a couple times and climbed up the rock wall all the way to the top, but that was all the playground he could handle. Too many kids, not enough quiet. The truth is we were both more comfortable out in the wind with the turtles.
Now, as an adult, I’ve found my confidence. No more pants-wetting. In fact, I’m downright outspoken, sassy, and social. But it wasn’t public school that gave that to me, and I’m still an introvert in a lot of ways. What helped me get out of shyness was finding my tribe of like-minded friends and finding myself through a healthy dose of yoga, meditation, art-making, and introspection. Turns out, there are a whole lot of people who would rather sit in the woods alone for hours than meet up in a crowded playground or bar. And the world needs us quiet, woods-walking people!
I always feel like society wants me to force my shy little guy to just get over his social insecurities and jump in with both feet, but more and more I’m coming to accept that it’s better to let shy people find their way out of shyness gently and slowly. And if they never find their way out, then that’s totally fine! Life doesn’t stop being fulfilling or wondrous when you’re shy. In fact, for introverts, being forced into a crowd is a sure way to zap all the wonder and fulfillment out of the day.
So, please, stop trying to make everyone fit into one extroverted mold. Don’t assume that because a kid has social anxiety that he won’t be able to function as an adult. Don’t assume that his life will be less fulfilling due to shyness. And if you’ve never watched a turtle’s slow progress across a pond, poking its head up and down, and then poking it’s head up a few feet later on—you should try it sometime. You are really missing out!
Join the Mental Wellness FACEBOOK GROUP here.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Want to contribute to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Shutterstock ID: 77485684