Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Shyness a factor for unsuccessful career?

  1. Mar 30, 2007 #1
    have any of you guys read those self-help books that try to improve your self-esteem? are they helpful? Or would it be better if I just see a counselor? I've seen counselors before when I had depression, but they didn't help much. I got out of depression basically once I found my purpose in life once high school ended, which is to pursue physics.
    I'm asking because right now I think I'm too shy and passive of a person. I guess for the math and physics majors, its fairly common for one to be shy? Some of the great physicists and mathematicians were successful despite having severe psychological problems, but it was because of their intense passion and genius, which I lack. But how big of a problem will this be? I'm currently spending my last semester at a community college and will be transferring, so I'll have to meet new fellow physics majors and professors. If I stay too shy I won't be able to make many friends, and I'll hesitate to get letters of recommendation and ask for research opportunities, right? What about all the difficult people I may have to deal with in the future?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2007 #2
    Just learn how to deal with people. If you want to go anywhere in life you need a network of people you can use to your advantage. If you continue to keep to yourself you can expect to work behind the same miserable desk for the rest of your life.

    What do you mean by shy?
  4. Mar 31, 2007 #3
    Yeah I know that I'll have to just deal with people. But what's the best way for that? Would getting a part-time job help? I'm unable to find any tutoring jobs at my college.
    I'm shy in that I worry about what others think about me even though I keep trying to tell myself that their opinions aren't important. Like when we do labs in groups, I often don't speak up for fear of looking dumb and not following directions (I've noticed that I really do miss directions often).
    My shyness has definitely improved this semester since I attended a new community college. In the first day of class, I was kind of paranoid of all the students, but I've realized that the students are pretty nice so I've lightened up and spoken up a little more.
  5. Mar 31, 2007 #4
    Everyone has that issue to some degree or another. Personally, I think I know more or less what people think about me. I know myself and my personality traits. I can tell that some people don’t get along with me. It’s a personality difference. I’m not rude to them, but I don’t give a damn if they don’t like me. Screw them, I know lots of other people that do like me and visa versa.

    The people you don’t like/get along with you just say hi when you see them and go about your business. You’re not obligated to care about them, heck I don’t.

    If you want everyone to like you, no one will like you. Why?..because everyone has different personalities. You can’t satisfy every one simultaneously.

    You dont need a part time job. That would be pointless. Just talk to the guy sitting next to you in class about some stupid crap, and the next time you see him he/she will say hi to you and start talking with you about something...probably just casual conversation.

    Honestly, the only time I worry about what other people think of me is if I offend them by accident.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  6. Mar 31, 2007 #5

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Someone once told me that shy people are narcissists. They think everyone is focusing on them and judging them. In truth, that's not the case. Most people are just walking around in their own little worlds and can't be bothered to even form an opinion about you.

    Listen to Cyrus.

    And grow a backbone, honey. :smile:
  7. Mar 31, 2007 #6
    "I don’t give a damn if they don’t like me."
    "If you want everyone to like you, no one will like you. Why?..because everyone has different personalities. You can’t satisfy every one simultaneously."
    I wouldn't mind if people don't like me either. I just have a fear of when people hate me. Plenty of people in the past really hated me, so I have an intense fear of that. People have hated me in the past when I appear as a "smartass" or when I live an awkward life (I spend my free time trying to learn, rather than playing video games, partying, having a lot of friends, and the other things typical college students do)

    "You dont need a part time job."
    Well I was just thinking getting extra practice in interacting with people since I hardly see anyone outside of school.

    "Someone once told me that shy people are narcissists. "
    That's how I was in high school. Then, I returned to that attitude last semester, and felt horrible. That's why I'm motivated in trying to restore my life back to normal
  8. Mar 31, 2007 #7

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Were they mean to you? Were you bullied?
  9. Mar 31, 2007 #8
    Who "really hated you", some kids from high school?

    There are MORE than enough people at school for you to meet. You dont need to run off finding a job with your tail between your legs. Get over highschool, no one cares about it anymore.

    Not me, not anyone here reading these posts, nor anyone you will run into on the street. NO ONE CARES or even knows about your problems. In fact, if you start talking to them about your problems they would probably leave you and walk away simply because they dont want to deal with it.

    Either you are hanging around too many immature people, you yourself are immature and interpret people the wrong way, or a combination of the two. Now that youre in college, I dont think its the other people that are immature. College is a place for adults. People hating eachother doesnt really happen.

    You sound paranoid.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  10. Mar 31, 2007 #9
    You aren't important enough to others for them to hate you.

    If someone thinks you're weird, they will think it even more if you are shy.
  11. Mar 31, 2007 #10
    I was shy most of my life, and my lack of social success at college was one of the reasons I didn't stay with it when I was young. I'm decades older now, quite self confident and not really shy at all.
    Don't take theories about shyness too seriously. Mine included!

    There are different forms of shyness. Much of it is situational, and is lack of comfort in a specific setting. Some of it is created by your own beliefs.

    Speak to people. When you buy something, make a point of interacting with the clerk. Not a lot, just a smile and a "thanks".

    In a social setting, you might notice someone else who looks ill at ease. Talk to them, make them feel as if they're fitting in.

    It's mostly a matter of practice. The more you interact with people the more natural it will become. And make it about them. That is, be concious of how they feel, not just how you feel. People want to be recognized. More than you might realize, people want to feel that you recognize their existance. Many, many people are inwardly lonely or insecure, but don't show it. Don't overplay it, just realize that when you interact with people a bit, you are doing something good for them as well as for yourself.

    Look for an organization called Toastmasters. It's an international non-profit club in which members help one another learn to speak in front of a group. The thought may fill a shy person with terror, but most extraverts feel exactly the same way! Technically, of course, speaking to a group is easier than one-on-one conversation because it doesn't require the same flexibility. It's only uncomfortable because it requires a new set of skills. It's that "situational" shyness. But because it's a controlled situation, you can develop a level of comfort there, and then find that your interpersonal comfort has increased as well. Over the period of a year or two it will develop your confidence more than you can imagine.
  12. Mar 31, 2007 #11


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Based on my experience, it's almost the complete opposite.

    Meeting new people is a great thing. Think of all the advantages you'll have from that.

    S**ew them. Remember, the more "difficult" someone is, basically, the more unsecure he (or she) is. Once you learn how to deal, you'll feel much better. Breaking the ice isn't so hard as it looks. Once you break it, you'll never want to return under it. :wink:
  13. Mar 31, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Shyness, or being too deferential, can be limiting in a career.

    Shyness is not a form of narcissim, and one is not being paranoid, but perhaps a bit too self-conscious.

    It would appear that one needs to develop a reasonable level of assertiveness.


    http://www.couns.uiuc.edu/brochures/assertiv.htm [Broken]

    http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/assert/assertive.html [Broken]

    http://www.tufts.edu/hr/tips/assert.html [Broken]

    http://www.coping.org/relations/assert.htm [Broken]

    Like Cyrus mentioned, seek out people with whom one can develop mature relationships, and there are plenty of people out there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  14. Mar 31, 2007 #13
    It sounds like you are afraid to approach people, but genuinely want to. Maybe something you went through during your childhood or whatever, its irrelevant.

    I am not a 'professional', whatever that means in this case, but if I were you, I would just join a club or two that I might find interesting. Whatever kind of club it is, bowling, math, physics, chess, it doesn't matter, just make sure its something you like so that you don't grind your teeth when people want to talk to you about it, heh. You will get the opportunity to 'practice' your social skills. A part time job may help but ussually you can get by without becomming friends with people at a job (depending on the job), but at a club I think its a setting that really promotes socializing.

    Why not take advantage of your counsellor as well, after all, its someone to talk to, right? It sounds like you need someone to ask questions related to this kinda stuff, so maybe it might help.

    You can buy books too, maybe they will give you motivation, or just ideas for stuff to talk about with new buddies.

    There will always be difficult people, people whom think they are better than you, but in most cases it shouldn't really matter. As long as you are pursuing your goals and are happy with your lifestyle, thats what should come first. One thing I wouldn't suggest is to get mad at them (unless I suppose it crosses the line, but I can't see that happening after high school unless you are walking through a bad neighbourhood, heh). Just don't waste your time and carry on your way.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  15. Mar 31, 2007 #14
    "Were they mean to you? Were you bullied?"
    just last semester I had to deal with this jerk who seemed like his goal in life was to try to put me down. The semester before (last spring) is when the conflict started with this guy. I was in a good mood, laughed alot in class, and spoke up in class discussions alot. I was trying to be nice to this jerk, but all he did was insult me. I figured the problem was that I was being too goofy and looked stupid, so I decided to get more serious over the summer. Then I met him again last fall, took his insults really seriously, and now I trying to get happy again.

    "S**ew them. Remember, the more "difficult" someone is, basically, the more unsecure he (or she) is. Once you learn how to deal, you'll feel much better. Breaking the ice isn't so hard as it looks. Once you break it, you'll never want to return under it. "
    I guess the best way to deal with jerks is to practice assertiveness and forgive them, right?

    "There will always be difficult people, people whom think they are better than you, but in most cases it shouldn't really matter."
    That's comforting to hear.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  16. Mar 31, 2007 #15
    I woulda said something snappy back to the guy infront of the class to make him look like the fool he is.

    Learn to stand up for yourself.

    NO! Dont hold a grude, but dont walk around saying 'hey I forgive you for treating me bad." If you do that, you're a chump. People will walk all over you for the rest of your life, including your future boss.

    Why? What reason did you have to be nice to him? Why couldnt you ignore him?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  17. Mar 31, 2007 #16


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Not right. Actually, that doesn't fit into the definition of assertiveness.

    Save your forgiveness and nice words for people who deserve it.
  18. Mar 31, 2007 #17
    "Why? What reason did you have to be nice to him? Why couldnt you ignore him?"
    This was before I realized what a jerk he was. At first, I assumed he was just kidding when he threw insults at me. Then, I tried ignoring him but he probably felt good seeing that I wasn't as cheerful as I was before.

    What's the best way to improve my assertiveness? Just reading those links by Astronuc probably won't be enough. Would seeing a counselor help? or getting one of those self-help books?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  19. Mar 31, 2007 #18


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I totally agree. It's all about practice.

    Think about this for second. Have you ever seen someone come out of relationship and totally forgot how to approach the opposite sex? It's probably because they never communicated with the opposite sex except for their significant other for such a long time that they forgot although they knew how before. This is what I don't understand with people in relationships. They think talking to the opposite sex is some kind disloyal or a little flirt is bad, but really it's healthy. Not only for you, but you're partner as well.

    Anyways, you just have to get out there and do whatever.

    I used to be shy, but I took drama class and that put an end to most of my shyness. I was still shy around girls at the time, but now it's all good. Some guys think I look stupid because I'll bring up topics around girls that they can never even think of doing. But that takes practice to do it right.

    Social skills is a set of skills developped.
  20. Mar 31, 2007 #19


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Believe it or not, they can probably help. Also, exercise and dieting can help too. Most people don't eat healthy or don't lead active lifestyles, which isn't healthy in itself. I find that most athletes I meet are very social and assertive. Sure they might be stupid at times, but atleast they developped a lot of other skills most other people haven't.
  21. Apr 1, 2007 #20


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Try to do something that you always wanted to do. Put up a sport or some type of activity. There must be something. It will help you think better about yourself and it will help you show yourself that you can achieve a goal if you really want to. Once you become aware of that fact, you'll be in possession of a powerful tool, which, if used wisely, can keep you happy and successful constantly.

    I wouldn't rely on books. If you can, talk to someone whom you're really close to. Share experiences and problems, and you'll become aware of the fact that you're not the only one with this type of problems. This should comfort you, too.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook