When I was younger, I used to sing in school shows and the amount of times I heard that it was a surprise to people that I did perform on stage was countless. I don’t think people mean it with any malice. I think they just genuinely are surprised. I think it has been conditioned into peoples’ minds that shyness somehow means that a person will be cowering away in a corner half the time or something. And that doesn’t tend to be true. I think where the problem begins really is that people don’t understand what shyness is. Shyness is when a person is not confident in how they speak. That doesn’t necessarily mean that that lack of confidence in one area of their lives translates in any other particular area. It’s like a person who isn’t confident in their driving for example, it doesn’t mean they are going be not confident in another part of their lives such as playing a sport for example. And it can completely go the other way too. I have seen people who are the biggest talkers freeze when they go on a stage and that’s because they are confident in their speaking but not in performing.
I always find it weird when people say that they don’t think people can achieve in creative fields due to their shyness. Especially when you look at the history of so many successful people in the creative industries. And I’m not just pulling at straws. So many of the people who were successful shy creatives have been major names in show business and have been brave enough to be unique and do something new. Let’s look at a few and celebrate them for a few moments:
“I’m not particularly a gregarious person. I had an unbearable shyness; it was much easier for me to keep on with the Ziggy thing, off stage as well as on. Who was David Bowie and who was Ziggy Stardust? It was motivated by shyness.”
“I’m very shy, and I shy away from people. But the moment I hit the stage, it’s a different feeling. I get nerve from somewhere; maybe it’s because it’s something I love to do.”
“I remember Bob had soft, squidgy, little hands and was really shy – he hardly said two words.”
– Thin Lizzy’s Gary Moore speaking about Bob Dylan.
“In real life nobody knew Freddie. He was shy, gentle and kind. He was never the one, he was on the stage.”
– Queen bandmate Roger Taylor speaking about Freddie Mercury.
“I am actually a shy person, but there is a need for the flamboyant aspect of myself to express itself. The context for that is the live show. That side of my personality is satisfied by the act of performance, and I don’t need to behave extravagantly in my everyday life. Which I’m quite grateful for.”
“Here I was with somebody who I didn’t know was going to become famous. But I did know two things: I knew that he was not shy – I mean, Elvis was shy in the sense that he was introverted,but he was not shy to the camera – and he made the girls cry.”
– Alfred Wertheimer speaking about Elvis Presley.
And alas, that’s just six in music. If you Google it or read music biographies you’ll find so many more your eyes will burst with pride and awe if you are shy like me.
And now onto fashion which I shall list three people from but like music if you search you’ll find so many more!
Yves Saint Laurent
“An ugly, ungainly, overgrown boy with thick glasses, and so horribly shy he couldn’t take his eyes off the floor”.
– Womens Wear Daily’s correspondent speaking about Yves Saint Laurent.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel
“I remember reading a book about Chanel in which a woman talks about seeing her singing in a little cabaret when she was maybe 18. Chanel was described as a shy, ambitious girl. This adjective of ‘shy’ surprised me. I think that is what is interesting about her, that she had such different dimensions. She couldn’t only be a strong and tough and stubborn person, because you don’t create with your confidence. You create with your doubts.”
– Audrey Tautou speaking about Coco Chanel
“I’m still the little, provincial shy boy who forced himself to be a public person.”
And three examples from the acting profession darlings!
“The shy Corkman tells Stephen Milton about his venture to the small screen and how he’s recently started getting offers to play ‘dad’ roles”
– from independent.ie speaking about Cillian Murphy.
“Dressed in a black polo neck and blue trousers — an ensemble that wouldn’t look out of place on Bond himself – Whishaw is sitting opposite me on a sofa somewhere in central London. Slender and stubbly, he appears initially nervous as he distractedly picks at a sandwich. But I soon realise that he is appealingly shy.”
– James Rampton speaking about Ben Whishaw.
“I am crap at parties. I tend to sit in the corner. I’ll sit in the corner and find one person to talk to or I’ll go on the dance floor and get quite drunk. But I am not good at that whole … (About been at the round of parties for Pride and Prejudice with her brother and parents.) We all stood in a corner, saying ‘Oh, this is weird!’.”
So I think all these people and countless others have proved that shyness won’t stop a person achieving what they want to achieve in life. And yet even today people say, “Great yet shy.” like the two can’t exist together or it’s strange that they do which I find a little strange really. I often wonder where the rule that to be publicly successful you had to be a great talker anyway came in. After all, what has it got to do with a person’s craft and talent? We may not be the bravest in social situations but we are in life.