Breaking free from the shackles of shyness.
I was always a shy girl.
In class the teacher would ask a question, and I knew the answer. But the clutches of fear wrapped their claws around me, making it impossible for me to speak up. I would keep quiet while somebody else answered.
On the very rare occasion I would somehow push my overwhelming shyness aside, force my hand up and wait for the teacher to call on me. I would give my answer and feel my face begin to burn. My flaming cheeks would quickly attract my classmate’s attention. “You’re so red!” someone would laughingly shout out, and my face would turn even redder.
My timid nature intensified after the passing of my brother when I was a young girl. I was completely heartbroken. But I could never talk about it with any of my friends. I wanted to. Sometimes I wanted to talk so much I thought I would burst, but I just couldn’t. The words, along with all my pain, remained locked inside me. I wore the mask of a smiling, golden girl and nobody saw the real me.
If I didn’t share my dreams then they could never get shattered.
My thoughts, feelings and dreams were kept firmly locked inside myself. It was easier that way. If I didn’t open up then I couldn’t get hurt. If I didn’t share my dreams then they could never get shattered.
What was my dream? I wanted to sing. I sang all the time in front of my bedroom mirror, hairbrush in hand, imagining I was singing on stage to a devoted audience. In reality, if I knew there was someone within listening range, I couldn’t even sing a single note.
This was the story of my life until just a few months ago.
I was taking my baby for a walk when I happened to see an advertisement for the Jerusalem Women’s Choir. I stared at it with longing and took down the number. It was not the first time I had saved a number like that…voice training, choirs, musicals…But I’ve never managed to pluck up enough courage to even make the phone call. I didn’t think I'd actually call this time either.
I mentioned the choir to my husband later that day. “Do it!” he told me. “You’ll love it!”
I knew he was right, but the thought of calling some strange woman, auditioning for some scary choir and singing in front of real people terrified me. It took me over a week to talk myself into making that call, but at last, I did it.
And now, after all those years of dreaming, I’m actually in a choir! I can’t say I’m ready for a spotlight solo yet, but we’ve already performed in our first show in front of a thousand women…and there was not a hairbrush in sight!
It was around the same time when I decided to attend a writing seminar. We each had to prepare a piece of work -- something personal, something that affected us deeply. My brother sprang to the forefront of my mind. But I could never write about that! I told myself firmly. It’s too painful!
After a few days of intensive thought, I eventually put pen to paper.
It wasn't easy digging so deeply into the past. It wasn't easy finding the right words to express the pain that I had felt so long ago. Nobody said it would be.
I found the writing experience very therapeutic. And I was adamant that I would never let anybody actually read it. No way! It was far too personal.
But while I was writing my article, I bumped into a girl who had recently lost her mother. She was devastated. I wanted to reach out to her. “My brother died when I was little.” I heard myself say. “I know I can’t even imagine what you’re going through,” I continued, “but if you ever want to talk, I’m here for you.”
I realized the impact I could make by reaching out and bringing comfort to others.
And she did. She wanted to talk to someone who knew what it felt like to lose someone precious to them. So for the first time, there in the street, I talked.
I realized the impact I could make by reaching out and bringing comfort to others. So I decided to share my article across the globe on Aish.com.
And now I feel like I’m finally allowing myself to become me. It’s like my wings were glued to my sides. At last, I am venturing out of the safety of my cocoon and my wings are finally opening. And it turns out, they are big and beautiful and vibrant and colorful.
When an obstacle stands in our way, we often shudder, take a step back and tell ourselves, We can’t. But God knows we can overcome these hurdles. He wants us to reach our greatest heights so He puts mountains before us. Without these mountains we could never get so high.
He knows we can do it. He believes in us. We just need to believe in ourselves, and then we really can do anything.
When we have faith in ourselves, when we don’t limit ourselves to the fixed parameters of what we think our capabilities are, then we will see that hey, just maybe, we can.