Poetry + Psychology

The Fall 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) Division 1 newsletter came out and I was tickled that they had elected to include the poem I submitted, “On Being Shy”. If you’re a member of APA Div 1, I recommend digging through your emails and pulling out the newsletter to enjoy this and many other interesting, and even humorous articles. 

For the rest of you, I’m sharing it here. 

This poem is a reflection I wrote while battling shyness while attending the ISQOLS 2018 convention where I was presenting a poster on a workplace wellbeing study I had done with Dr. Arezou Harraf. I knew for the best return on the money spent to attend this conference, flying to Hong Kong from the United States, I really should have been networking like a beast. However, that shyness had me in its grip so hard, I couldn’t break free of it, so other than talking to the few who approached me regarding my poster, I really was unable to effectively network. 

On Being Shy

By Alice Vo Edwards

They say twins who are
separated at birth
Often experience
a soul-deep sense of alone-ness
That nothing but being reunited with their twin, fills.

I am not a twin
And yet, I feel so alone.
In a crowded room, a pool of silent loneliness
Surrounds me.
Invisible, yet sensed, this uneasy curse I carry
Is rarely broken through by others
Or broken free of, by me.

In the lunch room
No one tries to sit next to me, or say “hi.”
In a conference, seats further away from me
Fill up, until at last the room is nearly full
And the seat beside me is taken.

I don’t want it. This aloneness.
It is crushing. It tears down hope
And leaves only hopelessness behind.
Yet I have learned no way to dispel it.
This curse of being shy.

I can be brave by email
On LinkedIn
On a contact form
In a poem.
But in a crowd, I am swallowed up
Shrinking to a pinprick
A speck of sand.

This is my cry
To you, who are brave, who can.
Seek out those of us who cannot find our voice
Share yours with us.
Be the hero
Who can start a conversation with a stranger
And share your bravery with us, with me.

If you but open the gate,
I long to connect with you
To delve into you, what you know, what you want to share
For I am starved, soul deep, for those mental intersections.

To whom, or how, could you more easily
Perform a good deed
Then simply by speaking with a shy girl, like me?

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