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March 28, 2002 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-28

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Wekeid Magziie - Thursday, March 28, 2002




0 9



The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazi

Shyness quiets many at U'



By Rebecca Ramsey
Daily Arts Writer
On any normal day, many people
cross our paths as we walk around
campus. If we are lucky, maybe one
or two of them will actually smile or
say "hi" to us.
"Sometimes you may think a per-
son is snobby for not talking to you,
but they could really be the nicest
person in the world and might just be
really shy," LSA sophomore Katie
Preston said.
For many people, shyness is a
problem that can be far worse than
experiencing nervousness before a
first date, being a wallflower at the
club or having to give a presentation
to a classroom full of people. At col-
lege, a place where many people are
encouraged to go out to meet new
people and find their niche, shyness
can be an inhibiting factor of success
for more people than some would
"The estimate is that 40 percent of
Americans are bothered by shyness

at some point in their lives. That
doesn't mean that they simply feel
shy but that their lives are negatively
affected by their shyness," noted
Charles Morris, a former University
Psychology professor.
Many people do not understand
what it's like to be shy. For example,
professors often urge those "shy"
students who are quiet during discus-
sions to come talk to them. But, if
the students are in fact shy, profes-
sors need to realize that the students
may be too shy to speak up.
The occurrence of shyness may
come at any time, but it usually
seems to rear its ugly head when
strangers are present. Shayna Cherry,
an LSA sophomore, has noticed that
she becomes quieter when in unfa-
miliar social situations.
"I have found myself to become
shy and quiet when I'm at places
where there are people that I don't
really know. I would rather have oth-
ers come to me to initiate the conver-
sation," she said.
While Cherry admits her prefer-

ence for others to make the first
move, she does not seem to suffer
from severe shyness. The term
"painfully shy" is often applied to
those who seriously face excruciat-
ing difficulty when trying to con-
verse with others.
"People differ in the extent to
which they feel shy," Morris
explained. "For some, it is a mild
social anxiety that they can over-
come. For many, it's not something
so easily overcome, but they can deal
with it. For others, the emotions are
like a phobia - the person can feel
overcome with anxiety. They may
visibly shake and sweat, stammer
and so on."
Shyness is so complex and differ-
ent for each individual that Morris
could not provide an exact answer to
help alleviate its effects.
"For people with a low severity of
shyness, it's a matter of developing
some basic skills in handling ambiguous
social situations, like perhaps knowing
in advance what you will ask people
about or trying to talk to only one or two



U uldn't it be curious if our
lives were lived backwards?
How interesting it would be if
our inception was our death and our
extinction our birth. All the stages
between these extremities of life would
thus be reversed; a downward spiral
turned up against the gravitational pull of
time. Imagine a world where one is
rewarded with the passage of his or her
days. A utopia where each phase of one's
experience is followed by one less com-
plicated in both mind and body.
Wouldn't it be curious?
In this world of the "backward life,"
death and the dread of its inevitability
would be completed first. Like our
births, our deaths would be lost in the
narrow depths of our infantile memory
and would cease to be of concern forev-
er. With the worst being over, our eyes
would turn to a better future, the next
step of the aging process.
We would greet old age with vigor and
zeal, knowing full well that what lies
ahead is much greater and easier than the
darkness of our pasts. We would endure
the physical pains of an aged body and

the mental struggle of a deteriorating
mind. We would sit in our wheelchairs,
play cards and pinch the cheeks of little
children, knowing that one day our faces
would too turn red with the impression
of a geriatric's squeeze.
As the years progress, our wrinkles
would disappear and our minds would
load up with wisdom, knowledge, and
the stresses of every day life. We would
be completely responsible for our own
lives and for those of our loved ones. We
would concern ourselves with money,
marriage and the hiatus in our sex lives.
Yet, we would not endure a "mid-life cri-
sis" or a nervous breakdown due to the
fear that we have not lived to the fullest.
We would not shrink from the thought of
moving on with our lives, as we do now,
for we would be looking forward to the
carefree simplicity of youth.
Our graduation from the "settled"
years would relieve us of the mundane
details of life that we all dread. The taxes
would be paid, the dishwasher exhausted,
and our bodies would be prepared for
action, rather than withered from it. Soon
enough, our lives would inflate with the

air of youthful spirit and glow. We would
embrace the teen-age experience with
open arms, ready to fall into the lap of
blase days, not having to look back on
the years of the past. We would welcome
the partying, the stimulating education,
and the liberty of having no responsibili-
ty for anyone else but ourselves. These
entities would be our sanctions, our gifts
that come with the accomplishments of
our previously traveled journeys.
Now, you may ask what would come
of our minds during this reversed life-
time. Shall we retain all the knowledge
we have garnered during adulthood,
bringing it with us into the world of
sandboxes, slumber parties, and
Nintendo games? Or, shall our intellect
gradually diminish as we count down in
years and up in innocence and simplici-
ty? I believe the latter to be most effec-
tive. It would be a great relief to rid our-

selves of knowing; to be able to live the
remainder of our lives with the mind of a
child, so untarnished and pure.
Wouldn't it be curious if the afterlife
represented the greatest reward of all? If
after a long and well-lived life, we could
expect the ultimate experience - an
experience that would make it all worth-
while. The years would have given us
strength, intellect and sources of love.
After enduring middle-age, we would
have been given the energy, wit and spir-
it of youth. We would no longer fear
growing up because our work would be
our play and our offices our play-
grounds. After undergoing years of
cumulative succession and compensa-
tion for our deeds, we would deserve the
greatest prize. We would take comfort in
knowing that the end represented all that
is important in life and that we would
soon lay to rest as the greatest sensation

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new people,"he said.
"For those who are extremely shy,
however, the anxiety has to be
brought down to a workable level
before its realistic to expect the per-
son to socialize," Morris added.
Though that "workable" level may
not be known, there are other strate-
gies for reducing shyness. Simply
knowing that so many others are
affected by shyness may help people
come to terms with their shyness.
Shyness has also been glamorized, as
A look at the
underside of U of M

stars such as Janet Jackson and John-
ny Carson have admitted to being
extremely shy. Those who see shy
stars as role models may feel as if
they can relate somehow. There are
also therapy groups on campus to
help cope with shyness.
"I think in group settings, it helps
to act casual around others by mak-
ing small talk. If the weather is cold
outside, then that can be a conversa-
tion starter," LSA senior Dean Wang
inerested in
writing a
column for
Weekend Magazine?
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samples to

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