I have fought the shyness devil since I was young. When I was in kindergarten, our class put on their first play. The leading role was the rabbit. How I coveted that part! We also had human props, such as the two students who walked back and forth across the stage. They were the curtains.
When Grandma came to school, I was allowed to choose the part I wanted to perform when she came—any part. Did I choose my hero the bunny? You know I did not, I picked the part of a stupid bird who sat in the corner like a piece of furniture. Grandma said she was mortified. She said I looked like “Boob McNutt,” who was a stupid, klutzy, sad cartoon character. I was insulted when I researched who he was. How could Grandma compare cute little five year old me to Boob?
My bashful streak followed me most of my life. In high school, I wouldn’t wear red because I thought it would make me more noticeable.
Over time, I forced myself to overcome those feelings. Volunteerism helped tremendously. Moving helped me even more because it forced me to make friends, or else be alone. Living in the South, where striking up a conversation with random strangers is a way of life that made me realize I had to force myself to make idle chatter, or appear rude and unfriendly.
The turning point was my trip to England, where I was thrust, to a degree, into a mini spotlight at the ceremony to honor my long-dead first cousin-four-times removed, Louis Brennan. I had to stand up at a church full of dignitaries and say a prayer and get interviewed by Irish radio, Irish television, and two Irish newspapers. Once I was able to survive doing that, I realized I had won the battle. I was able to do a toast at Jamie and Geoff’s wedding. I am not outgoing, but I today, if Grandma came to see me, I am confident I would choose to play the rabbit in the school play. I have good company. Pope Francis admitted that he, too, was bitten by the shy bug.
Grandma came to see me, I am confident I would choose play the rabbit in the school play. But I have good company. Pope Francis admitted that he, too, was bitten by the shy bug.