Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From Introvert to Ambivert; My Personal Journey to Happiness

Mimosa pudica:
(from Latin: pudica "shy, bashful or shrinking"; also called Sensitive Plant), is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, re-opening minutes later. (Source: Wikipedia)

If people will asked me what plant best described me during my childhood days, it will be a Mimosa pudica or Makahiya in Filipino language.

 I could vividly remember a day when I sat on the ground with a Makahiya on my side. I look at this small plant that never grows tall. I touched a part of it and the leaves folded simultaneouly, there's no way I could stop it. I stay there until all its leaves were folded. And tell to myself, like as if the plant could hear me, " You sure is Makahiya, but you're not as shy as me."

As you see, the plant remain steady. Its leaves open wide not until someone touches it. It needs an outside force.

- It wont fold when you just stare at it........ I seem to "fold" when someone simply looked at me.

- The plant has torns that any foolish move and it can make hands bleed. That lowly plant could fight in return.........I could not, or maybe I can, Im just shy to create a scene.

- A makahiya plant blooms a lovely pink flower, though small, its detail is like that of a pampass grass. Cute, round and pink in color........ I, on the other hand, have to deal with physical insecurity that even up to this day kicked in, depending on my mood.

My transformation goes back two decades ago when I could no longer tolerate my own shyness. Why?

Here are the reasons.

1. I want to sing out loud but every time I do, there's no voice that comes out or I felt my neck aches. Aside from that, I was thinking fast forward that people will get annoy of my terrible voice, talk behind my back how awful my voice was, laugh at me secretly or openly and so on and so forth. All of these crazy stuff even before I can hold the microphone. I can feel there is a HUGE WANT to sing but I can't , oh I really cant.

2. I want to dance like crazy, like all of my friends do but I can't. From the start, I know very well that I am not a dancer. I am not capable of coordinating my body parts with the music. I can't memorize choreograph but there's a small spark in me that say's "Honey, dance with your heart. Ignore the steps, just dance." But I could not overcome the fear of failure, of humiliation, of insult. So there I was on the corner of the stage, clapping my hands for my friends who have the guts so do what they love. This experience happened when we were younger. Over years, my friends manage to polish their craft. I am their greatest fan. But there are times I was thinking I could be part of the group as well.

3. I loved people and I want to entertain them. Though I am really more a reserved type, there are certain times I want to be in the spotlight. My over shyness always gives me a ticket to the audience sections even during family reunions. And I'm good at clapping my hands for the performers. I even have hand clapping styles for different occasions. Just like a dress code, my hand clap varies depending on the event.

4. I loses a significant scholastic award because of my shyness. I learned that a school won't allow to give the highest award to a shy person. It should always be with the confident one, for he/she will be the epitome of intelligence and pride of the school.

5. I get sick of my low self-esteem. Its irritating. I have that secret childhood dream of being a beauty queen ( and I want the Ms. Universe title, silly me!! LOL) but battling physical inferiority is like an on and off relationship- sometimes I feel pretty and the next day I feel so ugly. In order to overcome it, I read tons of books on accepting oneself, of loving oneself, improving personality, self-help books of fictional and non-fiction, all sorts of women magazine (Cosmopolitan is my favorite), books and videos on how to put make-up, how to walk, how to talk, what to wear, etc. Name it, I did it and I am still doing it. I may not become a beauty queen, it doesn't matter now. Today, if someone will ask me if I think I am pretty, I will said I am and laugh it off, it won't kill me and I won't ask the Earth to eat me up anymore. Still, I am aware that I am not that "physically and perfectly" pretty compare to the models of Victoria's Secret. But I am still a woman and I have the same organs those bikini-clad models have. They just have a voluptuous shape, mine is petite and I am loving it. Its just a matter of acceptance and perspective.

Note: The first time I wore a one piece swimsuit is when I was 19 for our swimming subject in college and its a night subject, its okay coz no one could see my scars and varicose veins. The first time I wore a two-piece swimsuit is when I'm 28 on an island beach with few fishermen on the bay. That time, I don't care much about my big legs and stretched marks, I am enjoying the place and I am wearing the right stuff...I'm in a beach after all.

6.I want, I like, I envy people that are capable of doing, achieving, getting what they want. A shy person was unable to do that, there is always a hindrance for personal growth, achievement and happiness. I get sick of the routine of wanting and not able to fulfill it, simply because I cant, I am coward, I luck self confidence.

Lucky for me that ever since I am surrounded by people who truly loves me. My mom, my greatest ally, my sometimes enemy and most of the time protector and cheerer never give up on me. She sends me to all types of extra curricular activities at school. Lets just say I did it all because I fear  that she will hit me. She has a great expectation on me and being the eldest I don't want to disappoint her. She invested time, effort and money for me. So even though I am dying of shyness I still keep on participating on this events. I learned to play banduria when I was on elementary. I wrote poems and article on school papers as well.

The children organizations that helped send me to school also give me summer workshop every year. I used to be good in drawing during my childhood years and so I was always sent to art workshop to learn and compete. It is one of the easiest training for shy people coz it won't force you to interact much to people. I was just simply there finishing my piece. But soon, I found myself surrounded by the same people who have the same passion and opening up, though little by little, overs years helped me connect with them.  Trust me, you won't control yourself from looking at the other people's work but eventually you are still around them and you will get the hang of it.

If  I have the easiest task, I also have the worst. So worst, there are times I wish Earth  could just eat me up whole then I'm gone. Its leadership seminars. Yes, you heard it right. This activity that is surrounded by intelligent, confident, over confident people drives me nut to my very core and everything that I shy person could possible feel, I experienced them, over and over and over again. But over years of attending activities such as this gives me positive return plus the fact that I am scared again to disappoint my mom and the organizations that sends me and my own eagerness to overcome the butterfly on my stomach that sometimes turns into a mice or something, the sweaty palms and all physical manifestation I only feel when my shyness was threaten.

A two hours seminar seems forever, eternal for shy people. It always starts with finding your own seat and then introducing yourself in front or on your seat is the same. The listening, question and answer, brainstorming, group activities and everything. How I survived? I was just simply there-listening. If they said it break time, then I will go out and eat. I will wrote notes, I join groups when needed but will not participate much, I won't shine, I will become a member not the leader. I allow it. But again, over years of exposure, being surrounded by this type of people, I get then hang of it and soon I find myself speaking my own idea, my own interpretation. I found out there is no one in the world that could best interpret what you mean except our self. And the feeling is liberating. Being surrounded by optimistic people when you are pessimistic and shy is rough-super rough that it will give you emotional bruises and too much thinking but its part of the road, part of the game that must be overcome. There is a saying that birds of the same feathers block together. It is quite true but we are not birds, we are human and we have options if we want to stick to that personality or not. Ever since, I know I don't like being shy, I want to be great and I want true happiness. Ask me to speak now, and I will think about it for a while....no longer because I am shy but because I will think first what will I say and I want it to have substance.

Today, the shy girl was still in me but she allows to be behind and let the more confident me shine. Today, I could sing for hours to my hearts content, whether I know the lyrics or not, I will grab the microphone and try to listen to the melody. It takes years of practice to understand how to sing a song when you are not familiar with it,  if not I will create my own melody, LOL
**My classmate during elementary were so supportive that they allowed me to sing an anime song repeatedly, coz that is the only song I know that I will not forget once I'm in the front of the class. It is only during college that I fell in loved in videoke and try to memorize many songs. Funny isn't it??

Today, though I wasn't really gifted with dancing talent ( I still could not memorize a dance step for some unknown reason) , I could dance with my own choreograph. I listen to the beat of the music, move my feet, hands, shoulder, head, hips and hair (used your hair if your a girl, let it flow, it feels sexy when it is moving) at my own pace. People laugh sometimes but when they see you are enjoying what you are doing, they won't scrutinize you if the routine is not perfectly executed. Professionals will spot and understand you are not a pro like them but they will admire your cheerfulness and happiness.
If I am in a good mood, I can sing and dance to the tune of Shakira, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. I won't be physically sexy like them but the feeling of being sexy is enough. I learned that when people laugh, it could possibly be that I am really bad at dancing but most of the time, they laugh at my guts and I entertain them. I give people a good reason to laugh and I don't take it so personally. I also learned to laugh at myself in the process.

 Today, I go wherever I want to go. I talk to strangers and accepts new experiences and ideas. I absorbed everything good that is lay on my front. I speak up my thoughts. I accept negative feedback and constructive criticisms. I learned I need people in order to grow. I lose and win battles. I have my own share of failures and success- all because I learned I need to get out of my "protective shell" which is actually not a protective shell after all-its a barrier from experiencing what's life can offer-whether good or bad, its still a part of living.
The road to overcome shyness is rough and tough, it could crushed your heart in the process, it can humiliate you, make you cry, will make you feel more inferior and trying hard. But it is possible, as long as you keep that tiny flame of eagerness to win this personal fight and let that small flame ignite, never give up and in the end you will be ready to shine. 

Today, I feel like the sunflower, I will follow the sun and no one could hinder me......

Like the cherry blossom flowers that could make people happy and choose to be happy as well .....
Like the rose that accepts admiration and love and able to return it......
Like the lotus flower that stays clean and pure despite being on a harsh and dirty river. It symbolizes the choice of staying positive amidst negative surroundings.....

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