Not being a scientific type, I’m not sure if there really is a gene for shyness, but if there is, it must be – of course — a recessive one.
“Scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it years ago, but it was hiding behind a couple of other genes.” ~ Jonathan Katz
A little girl with stick-like legs hides behind her mother when someone talks to her. In school, she never raises her hand to respond to her teacher’s questions because she’s afraid her answer may be wrong.
In everyday life, she won’t answer the phone or even make calls to people she doesn’t know. In the bigger scheme of life, she’s not fond of trying something new or taking a risk.
She’s shy. Her mother tells her she’s afraid of her own shadow, but that’s not true. Other people’s shadows or things that go bump in the night frighten her because she’s afraid of the dark and unfamiliar things.
That little girl used to be me. My shyness lasted all the way up to my senior year of high school. If you asked my former teachers about me, they would say I was a quiet student, if they remember me at all. But something happened during my senior year that brought me out of my shell. I took a drama class.
My teacher, who also directed all the school plays, required all drama students to participate in some fashion in school productions. I’m not certain how I summoned up the courage to audition for an acting role, but I did. I vaguely remember my friends shoving me into the school auditorium for try-outs. Once I was onstage reading the script, I forgot to be scared. The result was I landed a leading role in the play.
At school the Monday after our weekend performances, one of my teachers stopped me in the hall, his mouth widened into a perfect O, and he said, “Wow, that WAS you!” Yep, a scared little butterfly emerged from its cocoon.
Once I became mother to our three children, I was determined, genes or no genes, not to pass along the trait of shyness to them. Together, hubby and I attempted to provide challenges and new, exciting experiences for them so they would embrace adventures and unfamiliar territory easily without fear and hesitation.
For much of their growing up years, my husband’s job transported us to different areas of the country. We endeavored to make each move a grand adventure for our kids. We traveled as much as we could to investigate unfamiliar areas, learn new information, and experience various events.
Our oldest daughter attended a different school every two years, which could be detrimental, but instead became an asset for her. She learned quickly to adapt, make new friends, and gain a sense of independence. I think acquiring those skills molded her into the adventuresome woman she is today – one who traveled by herself for a trip of a lifetime to Africa, served others on mission trips to Honduras, and moved to a state far from home without family or friends.
Middle daughter overcame insecurities and displayed confidence early in elementary school and on the soccer playing fields. She’s faced uncertainties with courage and bravado even when she felt like yielding. Her perseverance enabled her to become a strong and assertive nurse who has used her compassion for others in the mission field from poverty-stricken areas of Mexico to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi. She loves to travel, appreciates historical and scenic sights, and records it all with her ever-present camera.
To me, youngest son seems fearless. He welcomes new experiences like a parched man gulping a long draught of water. He’s always eager to taste diverse foods, attempt different sports, engage in activities he’s never tried before. Go on a mission trip to Belize? Why not? Try sailing? Sure. How about a little surfing? Go for it. White water rafting? You bet. He’s traveled westward across the country and Pacific to Hawaii and eastward across the Atlantic to Germany and Italy.
This weekend, all three of my adult children reunited for a sibling get-together. Son traveled from the state next door, met middle daughter in the city, and together they drove all night to oldest daughter’s home down south.
The three of them planned a big adventure for themselves to knock an item off their bucket lists. They are all going sky-diving together!
Has that once shy, fearful little girl succeeded to instill a sense of daring exploration in her children? Did they escape the shyness gene?
I’m happy (and a little bit proud) to say yes in my book called Opportunity, Chapter 8, Page 12. And I can’t wait to hear all about their exciting escapade after I go pray for their safety!
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