I've been shy for as long as I can remember - cripplingly shy, where I would rather get lost than ask for directions or buy two of something in a shop because I was too afraid to ask what the difference was. Somewhere along the way I came out of my shell, but for some reason telling people I'm shy is still a comfort blanket I refer to again and again.
I can actually pinpoint the moment where I changed. When I was 16 I got my first job in a cafe and by default, I had to talk to people. And not just talk to them, but make them feel welcome and at ease...no mean feat for someone who previously would mutter 'hello' so quietly only a bat would be able to pick up the sound waves. For me, working in a cafe was like a performance - I wasn't really being me, I was playing a part and that made it so much easier to chat, to give suggestions and even the odd joke! I think I still hold that thought with me now - if I think of making the first move in a conversation as something I have to prove, to be the confident and outgoing person that I want to be, then I just dive right in and do it. I think that's why I sometimes seem more confident in typically uncomfortable situations, because I'm biting the bullet and putting myself out there, whereas gatherings with people I sort of know or distant family can be more awkward than meeting someone completely new.
Recently I've been making a conscious effort to push myself outside of my comfort zone a little bit. Entering a TV show was definitely a push for me! I spent half the time telling the camera that I'm really shy and this was a crazy thing for me to do, when in actuality I was coming across super chatty and excited (which I was) - the crew were definitely confused by that and I think that's when I really realised that saying I'm shy had become a default excuse in case I wasn't living up to (my own) standards.
Off the back of that totally nerve-wracking situation, I'm redefining my comfort zone and banning myself from using the word 'shy'. From now on, if I'm uncomfortable, I want to recognise it's because I'm challenging myself to do things that previously - and do still - scare me, and should be something to be proud of, not embarrassed by!