By Diana Gaba
In this session Sian Prior explored the complexity of shyness. We the audience were given a chance to delve into her reality and by the time it all wrapped up, we felt like we'd made a new friend.
Prior, journalist, broadcaster, teacher and musician really bared all in this session and consequently struck a chord with her audience. From the outset we all found ourselves nodding in agreement with her as she opened by outlining the “many physical tortures that come with shyness”, such as blushing, freezing up and, “feeling like your veins are filled with liquid concrete".
Prior doesn’t mind being around people but she also “longs to be invisible in social situations” as it's when she is noticed, that her social anxiety of shyness kicks in - one of the many seeming contradictions faced by the shy.
In the past she'd battled to eradicate her shyness, thinking it was a weakness. This thinking was the impetus behind her decision to pursue such a public career. It also served as a positive for her allowing her to see that she could gain confidence by supporting others and their causes.
Prior then read an excerpt from her memoir, Shy, which explains about how as a child her shyness had prevented her from doing ten the simplest of things such as visiting a friend. Prior's life was filled with potentially disastrous ‘what if' situations that she created for herself. She describes these 'what ifs' being like "hurdles on the athletics field”. Again, many of us in the audience related to this point.
Questions from the audience revealed more about shyness. Prior mentioned a spectrum upon which shyness is measured - interesting concept. Prior suggested that she started on the far ‘shy’ end of this spectrum and began to move when she began to recognise and find confidence in ‘professional Sian’. This took ever some time, but she suggest that this kind of change is one that can only be gradual.
Prior has now accepted herself as a shy person. She knows that parts of her would change if she wasn’t that way. Writing her memoir has made it easer for her to confront her shyness. She wrote ils for other shy people, hoping to explain shyness so that it wasn't misunderstood, as attention seeking for instance.
If I had to find a metaphor for Prior’s session, I'd say it was like watching an artist painting a picture, one that simply and clearly portrays shyness for what it is.