On Being Shy

On Being Shy: A poem on the experience of introversion and attending conferences
By Alice Vo Edwards

(I wrote this poem based on my frustrations with myself in attending academic conferences as a graduate student. It was also published in an APA Div 1 newsletter, in 2018


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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