As the shrouds of mist lift from time to time they often part to reveal a vivid scene that springs forth with utmost clarity as if it always waits in the wings ready to pounce forward on cue – My small hands tightly holding on to my mother’s as we stand at the door to a kindergarten school. My mind is brimming with curiosity, heart beating with the slight trepidation which comes with being in a hitherto foreign environment. I would love to run free into the room but my feet are firmly rooted to the spot where they were stood and my voice slightly muffled in response.
“She’s just shy.”, “Come on, don’t be shy.” or “Are you shy?” were just some of the sentences that used to greet me every morning. I don’t really think that my still nascent and malleable psyche had quite grasped the meaning of the term “shy”. But the perpetual juxtaposing of this word had resulted in my mind adopting it as an external manifestation of all that rumbled and rustled inside.
That day, the doors of the kindergarten and the school itself have since become a thing of the past. But the same bouquet of emotions have continued to manifest themselves and make their presence acutely felt across different scenarios as though in a bid to prove that they were never too far away to be non-existential.
Owing to my own introverted nature the effervescence I felt within was somehow restricted and confined within rather than surging forward to the surface and bursting forth with equal elan. The word “shy” had become a rock behind which I instinctively and intuitively chose to take refuge every time a situation asked my bolder and more exuberant facet of personality to emerge from the shadows behind which it lurked.
It might be logical to conclude that the word “shy” and “I” would have by now grown accustomed to one another and possibly have developed a comfort zone within which both happily co-exist. The truth of the matter though, couldn’t be further away. Being entirely honest, there was an acute resentment which built up against this word, so singularly liberal in usage yet so damning in nature and thwarting in prerogative.
I believe each one of us is unique in our own right and authority. How ‘concealed’ or how ‘manifest’ this uniqueness is on the world stage is an aspect that is acutely personal in nature.
As perhaps we all know a child’s psyche is like a sponge quickly grasping, inculcating and internalizing within itself everything that it finds. So new is it to this world that all we do, and all we say to some extent play a pivotal role in its future growth and development.
Perhaps the harm in labeling a child or a person as ‘shy’ is not intentional. But its residual effects often last a lifetime, accruing within its gamut a multitude of not so positive experiences and emotions.
Speaking for myself the term ‘shy’ was so very ingrained in my psyche that each time my heart beat faster, my mouth clammed up or I got nervous I automatically reminded myself that I was ‘shy’ and that it was the right thing for me to take a step back. Rather than thwarting the thoughts and feelings whose ultimate prerogative was to en-fetter my personality and hinder my growth this singular adjective gave a stamp of approval and accorded due credence to my timidity.
Time, they say is a healer and life is the greatest teacher. Over the years and over time I have taught and inculcated within myself the seed of thought that being an introvert does not in any way mean that life would pass me by or be selective in its offering of opportunities. With time I have learnt to extricate myself from the grasp and purview of this adjective who’s very definition preceded my entry and clouded my exit from any situation.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the tides of life can only ebb forward. Whilst we do hold the power to improve our present and build a brighter and better future, no matter how hard we persevere we do not have the powers to permeate the shadows of the past to relive the moments gone by and correct the situations where we may have faltered and floundered.
As a mother though, life has given me not one, but three chances to help guide my children through their crucial formative years. I am a mother who does step forward to speak up for her child when their own voices are slightly low or muffled. In no way, do I harbor any grudge against the people who liberally endorsed and vilified the use of the word ‘shy’ in my case. As for my children I would rather attribute to them no such adjectives that seek to pre-define a personality or a trait which is so young and nascent that it is yet to fully form, take shape, emerge, blossom and come into its own being.
Can you imagine a world, where everyone spoke at the same time, vied for attention at the same time or jumped on to the stage and started to sing at the same time? To say the very least, the stage would have collapsed. I think we need to give due credence to the fact that just as there are ‘talkers’, there are some who are ‘thinkers’ and ‘listeners’. In no way, are the ‘thinkers’ or ‘listeners’ a victim of deprivation in any form. Neither does their cautious approach debilitate them in any manner. Rather they take their time to hear, think and then opine. Which in fact can be an asset to any situation.
The glaring dichotomy that stares me squarely in the eye, every time I think about this is that where on the one hand we are so willing and patient to accept that different flowers in nature will blossom at different times we somehow display an uncanny impatience when it comes to humans and are quick to jump onto the bandwagon that liberally attributes adjectives to traits that may for all eventuality just be a passing phase.
The growth of our children must never be sequestered within the confines of an adjective and its meaning. Rather they must be gently sheltered and guided into the world with a sense of courage and understanding. Whatever paths their life might take one thing is paramount, and that is that each of them has a talent. And these talents are as unique as them. How they choose to deal with it is one that they shall decide at a later stage. And while as parents we aspire and envisage a lifetime of success for our children we must at the same time remind ourselves that success and victories come in many forms and guises.
Milestones are great. But there should be no universally applicable principle or theory which seeks in its validation to sweepingly stipulate that all children must be stood at the very same threshold, achieving the exact same level of development at the same time. Because, in a world as varied, diverse and beautifully made as ours, that is something which renders itself impossible to achieve. And neither should it be placed on a pedestal as a goal that deifies judging everyone with the same paradigm of growth, progress and success.
To conclude this post, I’d like to close on the thought that manifesting personality traits like being outgoing, effusive and gregarious is remarkable. But being introverted in personality, an observer of situations, introspective by nature and a thinker in propensity are all equally phenomenal too.