Little E (16 months!) was running around the office at the end of the day yesterday. Nate dropped him by on his way to work. He does great with strangers when he's in familiar settings (like our house) but like most toddlers, if you drop him in a new place with new people, he takes awhile to warm up. He's feeling it out. Making sure it's safe.
So I was maybe a little surprised when a (well-intentioned, I'm sure) coworker said, "Is he going to be shy like his Mama?"
I'm not sure why, but I blurted out, "I hope not!"
I wanted to take it back and defend myself: "I'm not shy." Or even defend Elijah. Who knows how his personality will shape over the next decade or two? What if he is like me? Is that such a bad thing?
I'll admit, I did use to be shy—"having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people." That accurately describes middle school and much of high school and college. I was nervous. I was unsure of myself. I lacked confidence. Shyness was a problem because it hindered me. It held me back. It paralyzed me. For me, shyness is negative, but I think what a lot of people recognize as shyness isn't shyness at all.
The synonyms of the word shy—bashful, timid, sheepish, insecure, mousy, unconfident, self-conscious, embarrassed—do not describe who I am now.
In the years of growing up—the last 6 or 7 years—of becoming an adult and moving to a new city and getting married, becoming a mother, and through that all learning about and treasuring and being changed by Jesus—the shyness dissipated. I learned to avoid unhelpful quietness. I learned to contribute as needed. I learned to fake confidence until I actually was confident.
So to set the record straight, I am discreet. Reserved, but not in an anti-social way. It's not shyness. It's not anger or sadness or stuck-upness. It's a sitting back and observing. Deep thinking. Analyzing. Contentedness. Ever since Jesus saved me, I have had nothing to prove. It is a careful attentiveness, intentionally unobtrusive. I am usually careful about the words I choose to speak. I am confident and unembarrassed.
Will E be like his Mama? Maybe. I'll love him and encourage him and give him a safe place to be himself. And if he's loud and talkative, I'll love him and encourage him and give him a safe place to be himself. No matter what.