I’m not popular, and I very rarely have something to say in school unless it’s to my friends. That’s probably why I find myself with an end of year report that includes at least six of my teachers commenting, ‘Joanne is very quiet’. My work experience review from last year said ‘we couldn’t quite get her out of her shell’.
My teachers say I won’t get far by being quiet but why does it matter if you don’t like to speak? OK, obviously a career as an actor wouldn’t be the best option but I don’t want to be one. I want to be an author, or a crime scene examiner, or an archaeologist, or a combination of those three and none of those careers really require you to be overly communicative (which I didn’t know was a word).
My psychology teacher told me that her boyfriend was mute when he was in year twelve, so I don’t see why shyness should set someone back or apart from everyone else. I also don’t see why my effort grade is a 2 when I always do my homework and do it to the best I can get it. As far as I’m aware that could be along the lines of discrimination, an employer would give someone a job if they were deaf or physically disabled unless you needed to be at ‘tip-top shape’ or, if they wanted a lawsuit on their hands.
So why am I shy? Shyness, psychologically, can be caused by an overactive amygdala, which is a part of the brain. Shyness can be present from early childhood but I’m pretty sure those clever-clog psychologist aren’t certain what causes shyness. I, myself, have a couple of theories; first, at home, I am willing to admit that at the dinner table I am often ignored when I try to speak. One on one conversations are fine, obviously because the person I am speaking to has their full attention on me. More then one other person, however, and there’s a problem. I can ask a question and I will be ignored, or I will try to speak and people will interrupt me. My own family, in fact, will interrupt me and people then ask why I stick to my room and rarely leave it. I try to get my family to participate in games with me, but, no they would rather do something else and then seem upset when I don’t want to go out with them.
Secondly, as I said before I’m not popular and it took a year and a half of pure hell to find the friends I have now. I came to my secondary school by myself, no friends, no siblings, nothing. Heck, I was the only person in my entire town to go to this school and as a result I found myself surrounded by girls who had all known at least one other person. I was, rightfully, scared and upset and my memory of my first year at that school consisted mainly of tears. The girls I found myself in a form with were not my friends; they were rude and spoilt and were not at all what I expected from girls at a grammar school. They were proud of the fact that the entire class got put on report and that they were viewed as the worst form in the school, something that they tried to keep up throughout our five years together. The environment I found myself in was not one I expected and not one I was used to, which I must say is shocking when considering that I came from a school in Basildon, Essex, which is viewed as a rough place. To protect myself I shut down socially and I was very, very shy.
Year eight brought me new friends, people I am still friends with today and I was lucky enough to share classes with at least a few of them. I was happier, but, still with my form, and still having to watch them torment teachers and throw me further into despair, especially as I had no one to sit with during my hellish times with them. It was year eight that I learnt it was possible to move forms, my form teacher told me it was possible to go to another form and that she would speak to my head of year. I never spoke to that head of year about it. A few years later, as a result of my mother phoning school, I spoke to my new head of year who, with my mother, had come to the assumption that my poor attendance was because I was being bullied. She told me that at year ten and with only two (long) years left there would be no point of moving forms. She seemed to fail to grasp that I had to spend my morning and afternoon registrations with them, that I had no one I liked to sit next to in assemblies, that once a fortnight I had to do team-building exercises with my form, and that there always seemed to be a member of senior management in the room moaning at us for things I had had no part in. I am not a killjoy but I had no interest in being part of things that some people viewed as rude or against school rules, I wanted to sit quietly and get on with things and not have lessons interrupted by girls having arguments with teachers.
My article about shyness and the need to speak in today’s society seems to have become just about why I think I’m shy and as a way to vent my anger towards the people who made my life horrible for five long years and for that I apologise. I hope that this is a way of voicing an issue that at least a few people have gone through and I dearly hope I have not wasted anyone’s time.