Is shyness a virtue?

There is something beautiful about shyness.  In some culture, shyness is considered a virtue and as being “modest” and praiseworthy. 

In other cultures, where we are taught to be bold and brash, to be upfront, look at people straight in the eyes and speak up what is on our minds, shyness can be considered a form of insecurity.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia defined shyness as

Shyness (also called diffidence) is the feeling of apprehensionlack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is in proximity to other people.  This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people.  Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem.  Stronger forms of shyness are usually referred to as social anxiety or social phobia.

Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote about shyness in his book Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith.  He talked about being direct and open as being unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring.  It is like trees without shadows.  Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders’ eyes.  Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed. – unquote –

Generally, most shy people are mistaken to be introverts.  Shy people do not often make rash or risky decisions. They are the look-before-you-leap kind.  Shyness also gives one the opportunity to observe people and become great listeners.  Shy people also score high on family values.  Shy people are loyal and sensitive with great empathy.   Many might mistake an Asian person to be shy, when actually he or she is not – it is just the way they had been brought up.  In the traditional Asian upbringing, the belief is children are meant to be seen and not heard.

Sometimes we tend to compare ourselves with others and we think that the others are better than ourselves.  This is where shyness comes in with feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence.  In truth, there is no comparison between two human beings because we are all created differently, even identical twins do not look exactly the same.  All we have to do is to be the best that we can in our exclusiveness.  

A little shyness is normal and even helpful in small doses but if shyness is more your enemy than your friend, learn to turn your shyness into a strength.  Did you try too hard thinking of yourself from other people’s point of view, which is almost certainly misconceived.  Perhaps the most important and helpful thing to do would be to ask yourself, ‘why do I care?

 Some say that ‘shyness is pride,’ and I believe that shyness is a virtue.  Start making shyness work for you by taking responsibility for yours.  When you own something, you assert control over it.  If you fail to asset control over your shyness, it will control you.  Owning up to your shyness will give you control over the only obstacle that is getting in your way: yourself.

Is shyness a virtue or a form of insecurity?

The inspiration on writing about this topic came from reading the bamboo principle’s post ‘over shy’.  I would like to hear about your views on this topic – Is shyness a virtue?

9 thoughts on “Is shyness a virtue?

  1. Wow. I love that it sparked a whole other post 🙂 Such is the magic of wordpress land. I totally think shyness is a virtue as long as it’s not self-crippling and prevents you from growing. There are huge advantages, as you say. But what I haven’t worked out yet is where the line lies between shyness and introversion…
    Thanks again for reading and adding so much more 🙂

  2. Pingback: On Being Judged for Shyness | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

  3. I have been shy since I can remember, and I will be remembered as shy. Contemporary society may label me aloof, indifferent even a nerd because I don’t feel comfortable selling myself to others. Where it may be popular for persons to be flexible ( compromise), attractive to others ( becoming a product), and agreeable( moral relativism), my nature demands I be true to myself.

    • Shyness is very common and some men may find it as an attraction. Shy people are usually compromising and go with the flow. I do not like loud people and certainly not people who ‘sell themselves to others’. You are right, just be yourself. There’s a quote that says ‘ Shy people notice everything but they do not get noticed’.

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