When I was growing up, I was very shy.

Who am I kidding? I still am. If I walk into a room full of people I don’t know, I have no clue what to say to any of them other than hello. I get lost in conversations, and tend to gravitate to corners. Unfortunately, this makes some people think I’m bored or snobby, which makes them less likely to talk to me, which makes me more anxious, which makes me more shy.

Sometimes it’s easier just to not go places.

When a child is shy, people don’t always understand. They might say, “Oh, she’s shy, she’ll get used to you”…or they might say, “You get over there right now and talk to those people! What’s the matter with you? Stop acting this way!”

I heard a lot of the second one when I was a kid. It didn’t make me less shy. It made me more so, because on top of being afraid to talk to people, I thought something was wrong with me, which would mean they wouldn’t want to talk to me anyway.

I’m still shy. And some people don’t like to be around me because of it. They think I’m bored or angry, when the reality is I’m scared and have no idea what to say to anyone. Or I try to talk and people talk over me. When I’m doing an author appearance, it isn’t so bad, because there’s a set protocol for that and I know what I’m saying. And the people are there to see me. But at a party or event where I have to be social? Not easy.

If you see someone standing off to the side at a party, or at school, or anywhere like that, don’t assume they’re a snob or don’t want to be there. They might just be shy, and they might appreciate it more than you realize if you just walk over, say hello and introduce yourself, and ask if you can hang out with them or walk around the room with them. Sometimes all it takes to get over the shyness, or at least make it not so bad, is someone else to help.