“Shyness is when you turn your head away from something you want…”

The 7th Annual IPRC Text Ball was last night and it was a fun, entertaining time. I almost didn’t go.

For starters, I didn’t have a text-inspired costume. But, really, because it’s so hard for me to just wear the skin I’m in.

We all have social anxiety to some extent, even the most extrovert are manifesting a deep down shyness, I think. (Or maybe not. Lucky sods.)

Knowing this, I mitigated myself, and went.

I almost went as a black sky scattered with bright stars. This was my idea on Wednesday, when I was reading Mary Ruefle and a thing she said in an essay about Poetry and the Moon in her collected lectures Madness, Rack, and Honey

“The great lunacy of most lyric poems is that they attempt to use words to convey what cannot be put into words. On the other hand, stars were the first text, the first instance of gabbiness; connecting the stars, making a pattern out of them, was the first story, sacred to storytellers. But the moon was the first poem…” 

It was a good idea for a costume I think but I looked up from my book and it was Friday and too late to shop for stars in the dollar store or cut and stitch constellations. Instead I wore a yellow silk dress and my best don’t be afraid, do not worry, everyone here are only humans smile.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote: “Shyness is turning your head away from something you want…”

A thing said about masks also helped put my shyness about going to a party into perspective on a very grand scale: “Masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull,” said Salman Rushdie in The Satanic Verses. That’ll get ya out the door on a Saturday night!

My friend Emily gave me a ride and we talked about it. When you say yourself out loud, you are able to see how silly you are. Emily does not enjoy Halloween, that upcoming night of masks and disguises. I like this part of a poem she wrote in her beautiful collection The Grief Performance (it’s so good): 

Horror is self-
Choose Halloween costumes
that bore you shitless.

Being afraid and embarrassed of myself bores me shitless. I don’t know if I can step out of that costume though, it fits so snug, like a glove, like an essentially me skin-stitched glove. The thing to do is wear it. But to wear it out, and maybe, in the process wear it away.


2 thoughts on ““Shyness is when you turn your head away from something you want…”

  1. I really, really like the quote from Foer. And really, so many people are there, all with their insides hanging out too, that remembering that can help. You seem like such a charming person on your website, and you get so many positive responses: why not take in with you too what good things all of us think about you? Think of us as a group of friends who wish you well without expecting any party favors or nods!

  2. A talented musician, Kath Tait, told me she was fearful of performing for thirty years. Her solution was to matter-of-factly say “Hello fear. How are you today? Oh how nice to see you again.”
    Before this she had been an opening act, opened her mouth and squeaked. She is a hilarious story-teller but at the time she was mortified.
    Her words: ‘If you keep doing it, eventually you figure it out. Now I’m not frightened of the fear, because if I get frightened I know that I’ll just have a little chat to it and we’ll be fine.
    All you need is enough people to like what you do, so that you can do satisfying performances and sell a few cds. You don’t need everyone to like what you do.” (Quote from ‘The Other Dunedin Sound’).
    A different environment but maybe a helpful concept…?

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