Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm a 29 year old law student. I have a very difficult time socializing with others, and it's been this way since childhood. In school I had difficulty socializing with classmates, trying to hide myself so I wouldn't get noticed by teachers so I wouldn't have to speak in front of the class.
My academic record was good, however, as I easily passed all classes. It was at this time I found that being around girls made me very nervous, so I started avoiding them. Once I entered college, I simply avoided classes, and my parents didn't know because I wasn't required to attend the classes -- only the exams. And I did well.
Ten years have passed, and even in graduate school, I have not attended a class. I'm quiet at home and I stay isolated from others. All of them love me, too, but keeping silent has become my habit. I don't talk to guests coming over, and I don't talk to our neighbors. I hate talking on the phone but texting is great -- I have no problem with that.
My family doesn't complain about my behavior. They know I'm disciplined and being quiet is my nature. I enjoy my limited circle of friends and I'm fine with them, but I will not go anywhere with them. I remain at home, alone, so there's no chance of meeting girls or women.
Since childhood to present day, I have never talked with a female classmate, not a word, even if someone asked me something. I've tried to talk, but I can't. Everyone who knows me are gentle with me and aren't irritated with me, because they realize this is just the way I am. I'm fine until a female arrives.
I'm still a very good student, and my notes are quite popular among friends and other students in my department. My notes are the only thing I can give to people I don't know. It gives them an idea about me, and so far no one has complained about my abnormality.
I've never been violent and I care very much for animals. In fact, I cannot stand to see an animal suffer, and no one can stop me from helping animals.
Can you share some psychological advice so I can socialize with others? Thank you for giving me your time.
Normally, when I encounter someone who is shy and wants to change, I urge them to accept themselves as they are. Being shy is such a great trait, yet most people view it as a negative.
Shy folks are often great listeners, observant of others, reliable, have good intuition, work well alone, are very kind, loyal and empathic. As you can see, shyness can be desirable.
Finally, Naren, and I know I'm giving you plenty of reading material, I'd like you to read "I Suffer From Shyness And Depression'
. In this letter, you will find more suggestions that you can incorporate into your daily life.
Keep in mind that some of these things will be difficult, but if you really put forth the effort, you should be able to start putting yourself out there. Also, I suggest volunteering at an animal shelter. There you can work with animals, which you love and you may find it easier to talk around like minded folks.
Lastly, Naren, there are rare circumstances when shyness is so far along the continuum that therapy or medication might be necessary. If, after trying all my suggestions you cannot do this on your own, you need to visit a psychiatrist for some advice and guidance. Having a professional to talk to once a week may work wonders. You may even need meds, though that needs to be as a last resort.
I truly wish you success, because there's so much more to life than being alone. One final note: Some girls are just as shy as you and want the same things as you. After a while, check back in and let us know how you're doing. I care.