Young Latinas are driven to be successful in social and professional situations. As strong chicas, little will get in the way of growing girls with determination and support on their side – so she can reach out and knock down life’s obstacles. There are some niñas out there who will find the reaching out part to be overwhelming. Seventeen year old, Destanee Saucedo describes how not being outgoing can cause her to “freak out” and think to herself “why can’t I talk?” when everyone else finds it easy being outgoing. Like Destanee, these girls are wallflowers; they are shy, and, whether you are an introvert or know someone who is, you know wallflowers have a lot to offer. It’s important to remember that when a young woman is shy it only means that her personality type is different from what’s considered the “ideal” social personality. According to a “Gentle Power: The Positive Psychology of Introversion,” the introvert, when driven by passion for what she is speaking up for, can “produce invaluable contributions, communities, and cultures.” Introverts spend a lot of time absorbing the world around them, and as observers they save their words until they feel enough passion for what she is thinking to step outside of her comfort zone and be loud. When a shy girl speaks up, you better believe it’s because she has spent enough time in her head to decide that what she’s saying is important.
So how does a wallflower grow in a world that favors the outgoing? Here are few tips:
1. Think Small When Social. Being in large groups is often overwhelming for an introvert and going out of your way to plan hangouts in smaller groups might make it easier to feel comfortable. This means having real conversations instead of “small talk” and developing the intimate and real relationships shy girls tend to prefer. Planning a trip to the bookstore, a trip to a cafe, or a game night at home is a great way to spend time with a few friends without completely leaving your comfort zone.
Tip: Having that one friend who’s outgoing and makes you do things out of your comfort zone isn’t a bad idea. You never know what you could like until you try it with a little nudge from a friend. If your outgoing friend is forcing you to do something you’re not comfortable with at all, tell her to stop!
2. Make Time for “Nothing”. Speaking up and being in large groups and busy settings can definitely tire a wallflower. Take little steps to getting out of your shell and recharge your batteries by finding time for yourself. Yes, chicas, this means that “doing nothing” is necessary. There is no shame in taking time to stay home every once in a while to daydream, work on hobbies, do chores, run errands or anything that gives you the alone time you need to balance social interactions.
3. Breathe When Your Brain Feels Busy. Introversion makes the brain busy and it’s important to be aware of this. Constant interior thinking can make it difficult to focus and makes your brain feel like it’s about to burst. Take time to pull yourself out of these situations and breathe. Feeling tired? Try taking a short breath in and take your time exhaling. Need to relax? Do the opposite and take a deep, slow breath in and breathe out quickly. This small act of mediation will do wonders within those moments you feel like your mind is working on overdrive.
4. Take a Moment to Step Out. In a busy setting it’s normal to want your “space,” so take a breather from the social gathering if your anxiety is at an all time high. Excusing yourself to go to the restroom can provide those minutes of recovery without interruption that just might get you through the day. You don’t have to make the bathroom your escape, use any area where you feel good enough to settle your nerves.
5. Be a Wallflower. Let’s face it, sometimes you have to go to that big event and talk to lots of people even though you might not want to. When you are in those situations, be yourself. If leaning against a wall to observe what’s going on around you or listening to the conversation more than adding to it is what you want to do, do it. More often than not, there will be another wallflower like yourself who feels just as nervous in the situation. Make sure you don’t lose your confidence simply because you’re quiet; you have lots to offer just by being yourself. Don’t cheat yourself out of social situations just because you think you won’t enjoy them. So, be you and trust yourself as a contributing chica in the world.