Being shy is not easy in a society that praises and rewards the extrovert. It’s even considered a character flaw. This article takes the opposite view on that.
Nonetheless, there is much to celebrate in shyness. It has cunning, to begin with. Entering a room, it situates itself immediately in a hierarchy of social unease — this person is less shy than me, that person more so — and goes to work. And as a psychic state it is almost pure information: Talking to a very shy person, you feel yourself to be inside his or her electrical field, close-up in a way that the un-shy man, jawing on obliviously about his trip to Six Flags, would never permit. As for one’s own shyness, the shyness within, it is something to be endlessly tested and negotiated with. Should you attempt to hurdle it, and enter the situation full-bloodedly? Or is now the moment to heed its counsels and fall back? There’s an element of the existential in shyness. At the very least, if you’re shy, you’re never bored.