Shy by Sian Prior - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Shy by Sian Prior

Written by on June 11, 2015 in Happiness, Learning, Relationships with 0 Comments


“Imagine you’ve just been asked to sing, unaccompanied, to a room full of strangers – and you’re not Lior,” Sian Prior says.

“Imagine you’re standing in front of that critical audience, wishing you were invisible.”

What if your whole life you’ve felt like this?

“What are we shy people actually afraid of?” Sian asks. “You’re afraid of people because you’re afraid of their judgement and rejection.”

Sian tells us that she developed mechanisms for hiding her shyness, especially at work. But away from work, she felt the fear returning.

Shyness manifests as social anxiety or social phobia, including a range of physical systems. Sian describes how intense physical self-consciousness is another effect of shyness. All these physical symptoms increase mental anxiety and self-consciousness.

“Shyness is a kind of poison that enters my body,” Sian says.

Sian describes the experiences of her ‘shy body’ in her memoir ‘Shy.’ What was at stake for Sian was her survival. “Negotiating with feelings of rejection and loneliness” is at the core of her book.

“I’ve been trying to get rid of shyness my whole life,” Sian says. After writing the book, it still hasn’t gone away, but she has been managing it: “pushing myself over a million small cliffs, not letting shyness get in my way.” Shyness has actually been a gift, as the motivation to get over it has led her to pursue her goals.

There are good things about being shy, she assures us. “Shyness is nice,” Sian says, quoting Morrissey of The Smiths.

She asks us to imagine that the audience watching you isn’t critical, but warmly receptive. “Sometimes, that can give you the courage to sing.”

Sian bravely steps out and begins to sing in a beautifully rich operatic voice. Not what you’d call shyness, but it sure is nice.


Sian Prior is a writer, broadcaster, singer and author of Shy: A Memoir. This is summary of her presentation at Happiness & Its Causes 2015.


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