Radiate: The Importance of Being Seen


Shy brothers and sisters, this one is for you.

There’s great value to be mined from the quiet individual … the meditative recluse … the contemplative outsider. I have always innately trusted shy people just a little bit more than the boisterous, bombastic type. They’re genuine. There’s nothing to hide because there is no facade. Quiet individuals have nothing to prove, no one to prove it to, and are content simply living their lives to the fullest for their own enrichment.


That being said, it’s a fine line we walk, dear shy ones.

We can be doing all the right things, living a positive existence full of morning meditations, physical challenges, and awareness practices, but if there’s no one to share it with, well, how are we enriching the world?

Why Are We Shy?

Shyness comes in many forms and exists for many reasons. Sometimes it’s anxiety-related, sometimes it’s just a person’s demeanor, and sometimes perhaps it’s even physiological. A 2010 study performed by Stony Brook University in conjunction with two Chinese Universities suggested that shyness and introversion can actually be due to a person’s brain processing the world differently than their extroverted counterparts. The results of the study show that highly sensitive individuals pay more attention to detail – this was tested with a series of images and an MRI – and they have more activity in certain regions of their brains when trying to process visual information than extroverts.

So there’s that, which is really quite cool and lends power to the mysterious intrigue of the quiet observer, but ask any introvert – who will speak with you – and you’ll hear all about the drawbacks of shyness. There are plenty:

  • Social isolation
  • Missing out on new relationships
  • Not getting credit where credit is due in career and education
  • Fear and anxiety

Shyness & Business

Businesses have begun seeing the value of stepping out of the shyness box too. In the last decade, it’s become common practice for large, medium, and small businesses to have corporate social responsibility programs, CSRs, that do things like promote environmental awareness, give back to the community, and generally better the lives of local citizens.

This used to be something that corporations just did as a matter of course in an effort to improve stakeholder trust. But according to corporate marketing firm BrandStar – consumers no longer view social responsibility as a feel good ad-on Click To Tweet. It’s a necessity. It’s vital to the company that the community sees and fully grasps the scope of a business’s CSR programs. Being coy about the work being done is simply no longer an option.

Once again, whether we’re talking personal life or business life, it’s a fine line we walk my shy friends. Over promotion of oneself is annoying at best, but under promotion can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the whole.

Even though it might feel uncomfortable, we shy people must get out there into the world to be seen. Yes, it will be awkward. Yes, we’ll probably stumble along the way and we will never be as charismatic or cool as we want to be.

But think of it this way: it’s not about proving anything, about ego; it’s about offering your gifts to the world. They deserve to have you.

Brooke Faulkner is a writer, reader, and career optimist. She is constantly working on coming out of her shell.

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  • Reply Editor

    I’d like to add that there’s a difference between introversion and shyness. Introverts get their energy from working alone or from their enjoyment of solitude. This doesn’t necessarily make them shy. Plenty of academics for example are introverts but they are comfortable in the company of others or delivering lectures to sometimes hundreds of students.

    September 6, 2016 at 3:42 pm
  • Reply Sal

    I love that piece about innate trusting of more quiet people. I know exactly what you mean. I suppose I am more self conscious in some situations than others but loud people really set my teeth on edge no matter what the situation. Interesting too that bit about how our brains might be wired towards sensitivity and detail. I like to write and I wonder if their’s a connection?

    September 2, 2016 at 9:03 am
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