A Painfully Shy Girl Finds Her Voice: An Unexpected Challenge

The day my painfully shy voice stepped out of the shadows

painfully shy

When I was a child, I would have loved to have had the confidence I have now – but I didn’t. I often wonder how many people out there suffer the way I suffered, right up to my early adulthood. How do other painfully shy people deal with its debilitating effects?

You won’t find me in this lovely photo of my aunt’s wedding; I was hiding behind my mother, too shy to tear myself from her side. But I am no longer that person. I have grown a voice.

Below is a 3-minute video in which I share memories of the moment my voice took its first tentative steps towards independence:

painfully shy

It took 25 years for my self-confidence to find a foothold, and 25 years more to ensure permanent stability.

Books have been my escape, and my source of joy, since the day I learned to read. And of the thousands of books I have read, the one that stands out in my mind is one by Susan Jeffers, FEEL THE FEAR …AND DO IT ANYWAY.


  1. It was a treat listening to you. I have known you to be sweet, loving and kind but could not guess that once you were shy.❤

    • Thank you, Samar. This is why I shared my story – to encourage anyone who feels the same way as I did when I was young. We all have the potential to grow. It’s just a matter of finding the support.

  2. Oh, that was lovely. The sound of the heartbeat was a perfect choice to underline this story! I chose to fail the intro class to my major rather than give a presentation, so that sound is so familiar. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You inspire me.

    • Thank you. That’s why I wanted to share this particular story. I’ve felt the angst of so many of my students over the years. I know the feeling.

  3. Totally identify with this. Inspiring story that addresses one of the biggest monsters we all have faced – Self-Doubt/Fear. As I’ve learned from you “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, I think that gradually this fear and self-doubt loses its power and we become stronger. Thank you for finding and expressing your voice Selma!

    • Thank you, Ross, this space is here for exactly this reason – so we can see how similar we are despite our outward differences of age, gender, culture, etc. We’re all human and we all have the potential to grow.

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