shy/conversationally inept

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    hi all..
    i am not really sure where to post this..and not really sure what reaction i am going to get..but is it possible to be a successful applicant if i am really not an outgoing person? after all of this time i find myself in adulthood with very limited abilities in the social world. I think i kind of turned away from the world and now find that i am having trouble finding my way back. I went to a JC as a pregnant/teen mom and now a 4th year undergrad tenative premed (2nd year at the university)..for the first three years i had virtually no child care (my boyfriend worked nights and watched my son after i went to class and then hurried home)..there was no time to make any contacts with people or to go to office hours. I find that i am having a lot of trouble now trying to establish any type of (even casual) relationship with any person. In the case of my professors, I am easily intimidated and lose my train of thought so that i end up looking like a total idiot. I am very frustrated with myself in that at least in the past I have been able to make ok one-on-one conversation.. :no: i do not know what is wrong with me..please help!

    thanks for letting me vent


    It sounds like you are very frustrated– but on the right track. The fact that you recognize this in yourself and want to correct it is a great first step. From your posting you sound like a very well spoken, intelligent woman. It seems that your difficulties maybe stem more from your own self consciousness than from any real uncorrectable problem. Communication and social skills can be a lot like any other skill– we can get out of practice, and it may take work to get back to where you feel comfortable. Plus, we are often harder on ourselves than we need to be!

    Just take it one step at a time. Maybe seek out the help of a school guidance councelor. Or you could ask your doctor if she/he is aware of any support groups for other woman who were teenage mothers. Or join a group that revolves around some sporting or other activity that interests you.

    As far as your teachers, pick just one teacher that you feel most comfortable and make a real effort to get to know them (go to office hours, talk to them after class). Even if you stumble at first, most good teachers will respect persistance and passion.

    If you are really having difficulty, maybe you could even speak to a psychiatrist for a while to help you get past your fears/issues with getting back into social activities. Whatever road you choose, it will likely take some time. But don’t give up on being a doctor just because of this obstacle. You seem to have overcome a few obstacles in your life– just look at this as one more. Good luck!


    Thanks for posting. The fact that you were able to post such a delicate subject like this shows confidence.

    Perhaps taking some assertiveness courses in a supportive environment might help. Something at a local college, womens group or similar. How about joining a moms group? Start small and don’t be overwhelmed that this will stop you. You need to feel confident in your abilities, that you are an interesting person and people WANT to get to know you. Relax and be yourself!

    This is something that can be overcome! Don’t worry. I was hindered for many years by a fear of public speaking, with practice I overcame it and now I feel wonderful that I can do it (doesn’t mean I LIKE it though!!).

    Good luck and let us know what happens.



    I considered myself introverted and self-conscious for many years. I was the shy kid who didn’t speak out a lot in class (still don’t), who hid behind things when sent to another classroom in elementary school, got the visible shakes during public speaking efforts. So much of that changed when I started working retail and forcing myself to interact with people…I learned very quickly that it’s really not as horrible as I had thought! I did continue to have problems throughout college; I commuted and had many of the same issues that you do as far as forming relationships with classmates and professors. I didn’t speak out in classes but did try to make valuable one-on-one time with professors. It got easier over time, especially as I became more involved with the department. It took a long time for me to warm up to several mentors within my department, but after I did I discovered that it was well worth it. I ended up with few but meaningful professional relationships and even some friendships with classmates in the end, and got great letters of recommendation from those that knew me so well. It takes time and effort, and it was very difficult for me in the beginning. I then worked in patient care for a while, which is a fantastic way to learn how to relate to others. When people are sick, in pain or in need, they long for someone to talk to. You’re there, you don’t have a choice in the matter 🙂 and those communication skills just get better each time. It takes sincere effort and even practice (if you want to call it that) to overcome feelings of awkwardness that come along with extreme shyness. It also takes TIME and a lot of self-reflection to understand why you feel that way in the first place. Take it from me, though, the former shy kid who is now a third-year med student, it can happen! I’m doing just fine, though I still tend to limit my interactions with certain others at times. You can as well. If you feel that it is overwhelming and continue to have problems, don’t hesitate to visit a professional. There are some treatments out there that can be very effective…like low-dose beta blockers for instances of public speaking, desensitization, or just plain counseling to figure out the roots of the way that you feel. Well, I’ve rambled, but good luck to you. Let me know if there’s anything else that I could do for you.

    Erin, MS3


    Wow, what well-thought out, detailed, fantastic answers you all gave! I just have to say that a lot of the people whom you think are naturally outgoing people persons are naturally very shy but forced themselves to learn to act “as if” they were outgoing. There’s no secret, it’s like acquiring any skill: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. And practice some more. Then when you feel like giving up, practice some more. It’s a lifelong process. Remember, you don’t have to be homecoming queen, just smile and ask people about themselves and let them do the talking. God bless! 🙂


    In all my years as a social worker, one of the things I found was that accepting oneself is probably the most important thing in being able to function socially….even if you consider yourself shy or whatever….if you can find the strengths in your personality and come to like who you are (warts and all), you will probably gain the confidence to succeed socially too. Fumbling around in social situations (with professors or whomever is more a function of self-doubt, I’d bet, than of lack of competence). I’d suggest working on those things rather than on trying to be more like all the extroverts out there. Behaviors can change with work, but the person that you are is much more difficult to change. You sound like a cool, intelligent, insightful woman. Why would you WANT to change?



    That’s a realy good point about it often being about self-doubt. Just have to add my POV, since I always had self-confidence in myself but used to be very shy as a kid. I once was in a group like Brownies and pretty much only said Hello and Goodbye and nothing else while all the other girls were so chatty. Now people think I’m Ms. Outgoing and Ms. People Person, and I think “If they only knew” because my nature is still shy but I’ve adapted and “acted” outgoing and it’s much easier.

    However, if you have a problem with self-esteem, that’s a different issue and I would refer to the post above, because obviously she has a lot of experience and knows what’s she’s talking about. 🙂


    thanks everyone for all of your were all very encouraging. i think for the most part, all of those years of social isolation really have rendered me clueless. it’s as if i’ve missed the train. hopefully, with practice i will be able to overcome this. i do wonder if a professional will help in my case, as i think that my self-confidence is very low at this point. unfortunately, it will have to wait as finals are here :tired: please feel free to offer more suggestions if any.

    thanks again

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