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Shyness and nerdiness go hand in hand. When someone’s shy, they’re usually nerdy, and when someone’s nerdy, they’re usually shy. It’s hard to “grow out” of shyness—I know from firsthand experience. It’s the introvert’s dilemma!
Making small changes to your lifestyle can help you become more bold and talkative. You might not see instant confidence, but you’ll definitely improve your conversational skills if you keep trying.
Why Are Nerds Shy in the First Place?
Before you start trying to overcome shyness, you should understand why you’re shy in the first place. The answer is a lack of confidence.
It usually goes back to your school days. You probably had (or have) interests that were considered “strange” in school, such as anime, manga, Magic, or video games. Maybe you got made fun of for it. Either way, you learned to keep your mouth shut for fear of being the “weird kid.” You were only able to vent to your specific group of friends, who were probably also shy.
Whether you’re still in school or not, you shouldn’t harbor shame for your interests, personality, or quirks. Embracing all of these qualities make you a way more unique and interesting person than half of the people on this planet.
How can you start climbing over the barrier of shyness? These tips will help you take that first step towards building up your self-assurance.
1. Talk to Strangers
It’s time to ignore everything your parents said about not talking to strangers. I’m not saying you should walk up to the sketchiest person on the street and ask them how you’re doing—you should engage in small talk with the people you encounter throughout your day.
For example, if you frequent a coffee shop, end your conversation by wishing the cashier a great day. Once you gain more confidence, you can talk with people in line at the grocery store or in your college class. It might sound lame, but asking people about the weather is the easiest way to start a conversation. I know that small talk with strangers is extremely unnatural for shy people, but it’ll help you become more outgoing in the long run.
2. Rehearse in the Mirror
Did you ever have to make a speech and rehearse in the mirror beforehand? Well, this also helps with making conversation. If you’re self-conscious about your facial expressions or tone, practice smiling, nodding, and greeting someone.
You shouldn’t try to perfect these actions—they should come naturally. Seeing yourself acting friendly is enough to give you a boost of confidence. You might feel like a total idiot as you practice, but that’s okay. Feeling embarrassed is all a part of the process.
3. Put Yourself Out There
If you’re in school, volunteer to answer questions, make presentations, and even perform in the talent show. Exposing yourself to what makes you the most nervous will make it much easier to do simpler tasks.
When you frequently raise your hand in class or speak in front of a crowd, you’ll have less trouble making a phone call or chatting with someone you just met. You’ll feel uncomfortable at first, but after a while, you’ll realize that none of it is a big deal at all.
4. Don’t Judge Yourself
Shy people have the harshest inner voice. One small mistake leads to a verbal lashing from that little voice inside your head. Judging yourself like this can whittle your confidence down to nothing, making you even shyer.
You have to work towards turning that voice around. Instead of calling yourself “stupid” or “an idiot” for fumbling over your words during a conversation, tell yourself that it’s okay. No one can speak perfectly clear all the time, and you should allow yourself to make these mistakes. If you say something a little odd, learn to forgive yourself and forget about it. Focus on future situations instead, and tell yourself that any mishaps are part of the learning process.
5. Stay Positive
Staying positive goes along with learning to shut off your critical inner voice. For every negative thought you have, try replacing it with a more positive one. If your inner voice tells you: “You’re weird.” Tell yourself: “I’m unique, and that’s what makes me who I am.”
Flipping your thoughts around can make you ooze positivity. Since positivity leads to confidence, you’ll soon find yourself becoming less stressed over social situations.
6. Let Your Freak Flag Fly
This is the most important point for geeks and nerds to keep in mind: you don’t have to try to fit in with everyone else. If you like anime, wear that Dragon Ball Z shirt that’s been gathering dust inside your closet. You can find some cool anime t-shirts on Otaku Attack.
Don’t be scared to wear, say, or do something related to your geeky interests. Chances are, you’ll find someone who catches onto your reference, recognizes your shirt, or is simply curious about the things you like. This makes for a quick conversation starter, and it might even end in friendship.
When you have unique interests or skills, that makes people want to talk to you even more. Humans admire others who aren’t scared to be unique, and that’s exactly the path you should take.
Embrace Who You Are!
Yes, I know that heading sounds like one of those generic inspirational signs you’ll find hanging up in a therapist’s office, but it’s true. Any “strange” personality traits that you have shouldn’t hold you back from being yourself. Embrace and accept everything about yourself, you’ll soon learn that staying quiet all the time just isn’t worth it!
If you’re struggling to make new friends, check out these ways you can find and meet fellow geeks.