OK With Being Gay — But Not With My Shyness

Reader’s Question

I am 15 years old, and although I’ve known that I was gay for a really long time, I’ve been in denial until just this year.

Growing up I was always closer to the girls and used to play with dolls and stuff. My cousins and friends used to make fun of me, and even though they say that they were okay with it even if I was gay, they would giggle about it off in a corner. So, I told myself that I would try to act as much like a normal guy as possible so people wouldn’t know the truth. I also started becoming more and more quiet and had only a few friends. I used to cry sometimes because I didn’t want to be gay and would hope and pray that I would simply wake up one day and be straight.

I went to a few different schools and found it hard to make friends. My dad also got cancer, and he died. It was difficult, and I was very shy. I finally started opening up to a group of friends whom I’m now very close to, but sometimes I’m still shy, even with them. I try telling myself that other people won’t care that I’m gay and won”t notice everything I do, but I’m still very shy.

I have met some gay guys like me on a website, and they seem very social and go to parties and stuff like that. They’re about my age, and although I know it’s selfish, I’m jealous of them.

Why am I the only guy I know who acts like me? I’m not ugly. Many people tell me I’m attractive, and some girls like me. But I always feel like a loser. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve met a gay guy who wants to date me and who says we’ll party and get drunk and have a really good time, but I never do that kind of stuff, and so it just makes me feel worse.

This really nice girl I know doesn’t want to believe I’m gay. She says because I’m shy I think I’m gay. But I’m okay with being gay, and I just really want to get over my shyness. I just don’t know how.

Psychologist’s Reply

As challenging as it can be to accept one’s sexuality, overcoming shyness can sometimes be quite daunting. But there are some simple, straightforward things you can do to help overcome your shyness:

  • Recognize that you are really not so different from everybody else. A sense of “undesirable exceptionality” plagues almost every shy person. But the reality is that every human being struggles with fears, insecurities, and inadequacies. So, in the end, we’re all pretty much the same.
  • Become more truly comfortable in your own skin. It’s not enough to simply say you’re okay with who you are. It’s important to truly be okay with who you are. That means accepting yourself at whatever point you are in your personal development and not caring so much how others might perceive or respond to you.
  • Plant the idea firmly in your brain that as a person of worth, you have something of value to contribute to society. That way, when you engage with others you won’t just see it as something you have to do but would rather avoid, but rather as part of a duty you have to enrich society in general.

Sometimes, overcoming shyness is a life-long endeavor. But with a firm commitment to yourself and a deep and abiding sense of genuine self-respect and regard, you should be able to be less anxious in your social encounters.

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