I find myself occasionally mentioning to my friends in the context of a related story that I was once shy. They would always look at me with this expression of disbelief as if to say, ‘D’Andre, you’re too loud to have ever been shy’.
I admit I was always loud. I screamed (at least it sounded like a scream in my mother's head) when I was telling a story to a friend sitting next to me. She would hear me from two streets away, she always said. And she wasn’t lying (my friend lived two streets away from me). I laughed without being conscious of the strangers around me. I still do. It’s as if my soul got lost in that laugh. As if that euphoric moment in time was all I had. But I was an expressive child, I was a passionate child.
So you may be wondering; how on earth is this the summation of someone that was once ‘shy’? I guess I failed to tell you that I lived 70% of my life inside of my head. That 3/4 of the galaxies in the universe are located in my imagination. It was my safest space. Though safe, I built ideas in that space. A myriad of improbable thoughts that only built walls instead of pathways. I found it increasingly difficult to step outside of the cosmos that I made my home. I stored theories in that home. Concepts. Beliefs. Judgements. You see, being shy carries an innocent weight at 5. Considered quite sweet at 10, it began to weigh me down at 15 however, and at 17, it began to crush me.
Being shy meant that I was afraid in various strides to be unapologetically myself. It meant that I allowed others to shut me up when I was exploding inside to just SPEAK. I never really knew who or what convinced me that my voice was not as important or that my opinion was never as valid. But I know now what I did not know two years ago.
I know that being shy is no longer endearing. I know now that ‘shy’ is simply a euphemism for timid, unassertive, afraid. I don’t blame D’Andre at 5, or 10, or 17. But I encourage the unassuming little girl to demolish those walls that you hide behind. I know that building paths never came easy for you but that intrinsic space that you have gotten so good at escaping to has a way of hiding you. I am not saying it is easy. But your skills, your ideas, your talents are beautiful and boundless; what a waste it would be to only ever have the stars of your mind see them.
I once was right where you are and the boldest thing I have ever done was say goodbye to those constellations and hello to the nature I discovered on earth.