The Thing About Us Shy People (and How to Overcome Shyness)

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

This is a moment of truth and I want you to keep this in my mind, because we're going to need it throughout this piece.

I scrounged my head in search of a single word I could use instead of “shy people” in the title of this piece but couldn't get any, I then ran a quick search on Google hoping to get one (or one very close). Alas, I ran into a thread on Stack Exchange with the questioner asking, “what do you call someone who is shy, withdrawn and fearful of being approached.” And added “Sociopath would be too harsh of a term (but close) and shy too mild.”

I'm coming back to that in a bit.

There's a misconception about introverts and shy people. People put them in the same category when in fact, they are entirely different from each other. Here's a clarification in few words…

Introverts are not necessarily shy, only that they are comfortable with being indoors and are easily tired when interacting with people. Shy people on the other hand covet being outdoors, socialising, but are afraid of interacting with people even though in their heart of hearts, that's what they want.

As a shy person, you beat yourself to everything and just can't picture why you can't exude confidence like your friend, John, who's always making new friends, especially with the opposite sex.

In a shy person's armoury, the only effective weapon is fear. And always resorting to self-comfort hoping to do better next time.

Back to the Stack Exchange guy.

Firstly, I think he's in the same dilemma as me; he wants to know, in one word, what shy people are called.

[You can share with me in the comments if you know that word that best describes us. A single word like introverts, extroverts, etc. You get the idea.]

But he's wrong with “withdrawn.” If you're a shy person, you would understand this. You're not withdrawn; rather, you're kind of outgoing just that shyness could make you appear otherwise.

One thing I've observed in my years of being a shy person is that I grapple with fear of the unknown, creating imaginary scenes in my head, which is pervaded by negativity. Hovering on the negative outcomes of an action, effect of which is fear, and that's where the problem begun.

Although, environment and upbringing could as well cause timidity, but in my own case it is the above.

The Good

Before I bitch about your lack of confidence, permit to say a few great, enviable things about you.
  • You make a perfect gentle person.
  • Because you value your reputation than even your life, you are honest as hell.
  • You're the nicest person the world can boast of.
To drive those points home, replace “you” with “we”. (:

The Ugly

  • All the good things about us are not appreciated.
  • Shyness puts you across as someone with self-esteem — true, anyway.
  • We dread approaching people and get nervous when approached.
  • We want to socialise but suck at it.
  • Crowd makes us cringe. And that justifies our hatred for public speaking!
  • Tongue-tied at sensitive moments. This is the “seriousest” of all.
  • You'll rather die admiring her/him. (:
Except you're not a shy person, you'll relate with all of the above. But fear not, I've got a few tips that will help you conquer this problem. And we're getting serious.

How to Overcome Shyness

No more kiddin' To overcome a weakness, you have to acknowledge it and understand the basis. So here, I'll talk about some of the root causes of shyness. Here we go:
Too Critical of Ourselves
“Am I handsome?” “Does this dress fit me?” “How do I even look?” “I shouldn't have said it that way; saying it this way could've been better.” The only thing over-assessment does is to suppress positivity. It makes you feel you aren't putting as much effort as you should. That you're not doing something greatly enough as you should. That you are terrible. And unless you subdue this your inner critic, I am afraid you'd get yourself to the middle of nowhere, no matter how hard you try. And trust me, you don't need any magic pill to ruthlessly knock down that your inner critic; you just do it! “Cos you're amazing just the way you are…”
Too Concerned About What “They” Think
Another bane and a cousin to the first point. In my quest to develop myself, I got to know that the people I consider awesome are not too bothered about what people think. What matters most is their own perception about themselves. They know there are skeptics that can never be pleased with anything they do, so rather than worry over that, they set out knowing they can only nearly impress a few. My point is NOT that they can exhibit all of the bad attitudes and immoralities of this world and not care about what people think; rather, it is that they care less about what people will think or say about how they choose to do their thing. In essence, they do their thing their way. No apologies. To attain that confidence level that you've always wanted, make yourself comfortable in your own skin, and don't worry too much about what “they” think. Since I learned this and incorporated it in my own life, I have transformed from shy to awesome.
Think We're Intruding Privacy
My friend, there's no privacy anywhere let alone intruding it. If you're waiting for the perfect time to “connect” or “break the ice,” you'll never make it happen. Fact is, people are welcoming than you think. So stop the “they're busy” gizmo and go strike some conversation. Zombie is but only a fiction; human eaters live in the thickest forests.

Actionable steps

Alright, fellow, I'll like you to try out a few things:

1. Fake it ‘til you make it

You have to fool your mind into believing you can do it, and trust me, you can!
faking confidence can augment your confidence level
This has proven axiomatic!

2. Change your critic

You criticize yourself too harshly, right? Or perhaps, dwell on the probable negative outcomes if you take an action. You have to change that now. Like: right now! You may maintain the “what if-s” but change the negative thoughts that follow. Here's what I mean: change your thoughts from “what if I blunder and everyone starts to mock me” to “what if I do greatly and everybody applauds me.” Thoughts along those lines. Got it?

3. Send everybody else to hell

What people will say if you join a conversation or walk or dress in a way doesn't, at this time, matter. You don't need any frigging permission before you do anything. What people think is insignificant and negligible. So right now, send everyone and their assessment to hell!

4. Meet two strangers today

Practice makes perfect. Try meeting new people even if you're not comfortable with it. By the time you “hi” about ten people, the nervousness will dwindled over time and you'd be assured it's no big deal. Try it today! Remember: getting started is the most challenging; everything eases off with practice.

5. Laugh Moderately

If you're like me, you laugh sheepishly. It is my facial expression of anxiety. If your own way is frowning. You have to change it, too. You have to relieve yourself of the apprehension by slowing down, and you know, smiling.

Concluding Thoughts

It is anxiety that makes us shy. And anxiety itself is a result of overthinking, bordering on the conceived undesired outcomes of an action. Fiction.

So to conquer this, the one thing you have to do is change your mindset.

Believe in yourself; you can do it!



The Children's Song - A Poem

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

This is a poem by the novelist and poet, Rudyard Kipling.


Land of our Birth, we pledge to thee
Our love and toil in the years to be;
When we are grown and take our place
As men and women of our race.

Father in Heaven who lovest all,
Oh, help Thy children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage.

Teach us to bear the yoke in youth,
With steadfastness and careful truth;
That, in our time, Thy Grace may give
The Truth whereby the Nations live.

Teach us to rule ourselves alway,
Controlled and cleanly night and day;
That we may bring, if need arise,
No maimed or worthless sacrifice.

Teach us to look in all our ends
On Thee for judge, and not our friends;
That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd.

Teach us the strength that cannot seek,
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
That, under Thee, we may possess
Man's strength to comfort man's distress.

Teach us delight in simple things,
And mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men 'neath the sun!

Land of our Birth, our faith, our pride,
For whose dear sake our fathers died;
O Motherland, we pledge to thee
Head, heart, and hand through the years
to be!

© Rudyard Kipling



What You Read Stays in Your Head and Makes You A Better Writer

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

what you read stays in your head

If you want to learn new vocab words, the conventional idea is to stalk the dictionary, right? Or maybe go online and find a list of relative words that are of moderate difficulty, or maybe use a software. If you've tried any of those, there are chances you end up forgetting those words, which is a result of one thing: context.

But when you read a material (book, journal, etc) and come across a new word, there are chances that while you may not know the exact meaning of the word, you have, even if fairly, an idea of what it means. And that's because of context. This way words tend to stick to your head, and that's a step towards improved writing.

Again, if you've ever been marveled by the level of intelligence reflected in some author's work and wish to write as adroitly as they do, I bet it is a result of the residual knowledge from the books they have read in the time past. And to be like them, read. Read. The legendary Stephen King has this to say:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

What you read stays in your subconscious and when you write, your brain will start recalling those ideas. It reflects in your writing making you appear as though you're well informed in the topic of discourse. Dr. Seuss once said…
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

…and true are his words

So if you want to be that intelligent writer every newbie writer wants to be like, why not pick up a book now?

More to this, have you ever experienced how easy it is to write about what you know than it is writing a piece that is about ninety percent reliant on research? Even if your piece needs a study or survey or research to reinforce your points, there'll be an easy flow of ideas and organised thoughts observable in your work.

In conclusion

Whether you want to be a great essayist, newspaper columnist, great fiction writer or poet, your best bet is to invest as much time into reading.

Try it, your work will never remain the same.

What do you think?
Share your thoughts in the comments.



Taking People's Picture Without Their Consent

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

stop taking people's without their permission

...is not right. Period.

Being served my own pie of the preposterous act reminds me of the story of a woman who had to re-tell a story about her that went viral on social media.

To be frank, the woman has massive hooters, which got the attention of many perverts on the streets of Lagos. As if embarrassing her by crowding her is not enough, some took their stupidity further by taking her pictures (without her consent, of course) and attached different stories to it. Some, unbelievable; some outright ridiculous.

As the woman recanted, it was her friend that informed her of the stories circulating the media with her pictures strategically illustrating the different tales. And guess what, it is a different story entirely.

Maybe I should tell you this one, too. It's about (me and) some of my classmates:

We were at night class preparing for an exam scheduled for the next morning. But towards the middle of the night, many guys started drifting off and some of the others guys that weren't sleeping when others were, started taking pictures of those sleeping. The annoying part is that they took the pictures when “boys” were enjoying it deep, adjusting to the most humorous postures ever. Unfortunately, none of us (even as I wasn't sleeping) knew when all of these was happening. We only got to know of it when those pictures were all over WhatsApp with different captions. So embarrassing.

Now to my own story

I have an exam the next day, so I took almost all the hours the night before off sleeping—jacking (hey, it's reading; not street robbery), as we call it. The next morning, the sleepy me continued reading but with intermittent yawn. More hours into it (reading), my eyes became heavy; couldn't hold the sleep back any longer. But hey, I will be writing a paper in few hours, so I continued reading even as apparent I couldn't assimilate jack. At that point in time, sleeping is the costliest thing on earth. Bet.

Stop taking people's picture without their permission

As I enjoyed my sleep-reading, yawning with my mouth so wide it could give passage for two apples at a time. I leered, surveying around with the corner of the eyes, trying to see if everyone is concentrating on their books and not on me.

Suggested Reading: On Ants, Their Lifestyle and Lessons for Us

What a relief — nobody noticed, even if they did, it was covert. But just as I was about turning the pupils of my eyes back to my book, I saw the camera of a 5.5" phone turned directly towards me. Huh! “what the hell is he doing?”

In a flash, I challenged the person holding the phone; even as it is unlike of me.

The following ensured:

“Boss, I see you're snapping me.”

“No,” he said with a head-shaking gesture.

Not minding his reply, I said “Can I see your phone?”

He didn't hand me his phone, though, but I watched carefully as he swiped through the recently taken pictures and behold … selfies! He was taking selfies, but because he was using the front camera, his phone's rear camera has to point at me. (:

“No vex, bro. As I see your camera facing me, I think say you dey snap me.”

“But,” he said, “you're handsome now.”

He is not the first, and most likely will not be the last, to tell me that. But this is not about looks; it is about what happens to the picture afterwards – what they do with it and how far it travels.

“No vex,” I apologized as I dragged myself back to where I was sitting.

God forbid I log on to Facebook, or worse, Nairaland someday and see a meme featuring me and my buccal cavity widely open like a lidless bucket and a book before me with jump-into-lagoon captions. Ah!

End of story.

If you take pictures of people in postures they're are not proud of, or without their permission, please stop it. It's a terrible thing seeing one's picture being used for rather unspeakable things.

Stop it; it's not right. It may even haunt them.

Just stop it, abeg.


Lights out.

Quick add: There's another picture of a guy reading on the ATM queue. Mehn! the captions are hilarious. I pity the guy though.


How Did You Find Your Nickname?

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

Because I've not seen mine yet.

Or was it given to you?
Even if so, you probably have given someone else, too.

And, hey, I mean the good ones; not the crazy ones, pleeassseee.

I've been trying hard for years (yes, years) to give myself a befitting nickname, a nickname that depicts some awesomeness, but haven't had any significant success with it. I have never found that one nickname that gets me wowing.

I take this issue seriously, because wherever I go, I hear great nicknames—ones that has some conformance with the bearers, and it gives me some kind of push. You know those nicknames you hear and would be like “wow! that's nice. How did you come by it?”
And when I ask, people's responses center around two options: taken or given.

By taken, I mean giving oneself a nickname. When people look around themselves and pick one they think fits them—something I've not been able to do. It can be in accordance with their personality (more like the persona they desire), or by shortening or acronymizing their name(s).

When I asked someone how he came about his nickname, he said: “because I read a lot and I think I'm brilliant in my own way.” That's personality.
Also, when you hear names like “Scorpion,” “Python” etc. You know what to expect as they border on personality, too.

When Patrick gives himself Pat, or when Romoke Akpos Mai gives herself Ram (lol), that's shortening at play in the first case, and acronymy in the second.

OK now, let's say I want my nickname around being awesome (yes, I wanna be super awesome), should I give myself awesome? That's sour. What about Awe? My Yoruba Language won't allow me; not like it makes sense in English. Some is a no-dare. So that can't work, or perhaps I should choose Writer? impossible!


Should I shorten my names?
If you are (or speak) Yoruba, you know that's not even near possible.

Alright, let's try given.

By given, I mean those nicknames that people give to other people. It usually surround some event, mostly ones the bearers are not proud of.

Suggested Reading: What to Write About

This kind is undesired, and people don't want to identify by it. You will fight anybody that address you by it dirty, but your friends—those that gave you—are just stubborn.

Other times—and rarely, of course—some of the best nicknames come out of this.


Truth be told, writing this piece has become boring to me, so I'm looking for the nearest exit.

Most times when I get an idea about a topic, they're the greatest on earth and I can't wait to write on them, but by the time I commit some of them to paper, like those undesired nicknames, I sometimes don't want to be attributed to them.

Although, I am reluctant to admit that it is not every idea that is worth writing about, I think this topic is one. But my “writer mind” won't allow me. (:

Let's end it here on that note.
The question, however, remains: how did you come by your nickname?
PS: Those of you that have more than one awesome nicknames, I envy you.

Share your thoughts in the comments.


O Pale Rider - A Poem

by Adesinmi Olatoyese

O Pale Rider - A poem by Adesinmi Olatoyese

This is a short poem from the stable of Yours Sincerely.

This poem is about the general belief about the Pale Rider, death, and what I wish for in order to be a victor.


O Pale Rider!


They say everyone shall have a taste of you/
Rich or poor, rule or ruled/

They say you grip with rigor/
From your grip, thus, no savior/

They say you're the Destroyer of Desires/
No matter what one aspires/

Don't come to me till I've impacted the world/
With my deeds and my words/

That is all I wish for/
“That I may be a victor”/

©2017 Adesinmi Olatoyese



A Drunk and His Bottles

This joke was sent to me on the popular instant messaging platform WhatsApp, and I thought I should share it with you.

As with most broadcast messages posted on social media, it doesn't carry the name of the Original Poster, hence the reason there's no attribution.


A drunkard woke up one morning deeply repentant after a bitter fight with his wife the previous night.
He noticed with dismay the crate of beer bottles that had caused the fight.
He took it outside and started smashing the empty bottles one by one onto the wall.

He smashed the first bottle swearing, “you are the reason I fought with my wife."

Suggested Reading: O Pale Rider - A Poem

He smashed the second bottle, “you are the reason I don't love my children."

He smashed the third bottle, “you are the reason I don't have a decent job."

When he took the fourth bottle, he realized that the bottle was still sealed, full and cold. He hesitated for a moment and said “you stand aside. I know you were not involved."

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