GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

September 18, 2013

Girl can conquer shyness by reaching out to others

:Dear Abby: I’m a 14-year-old girl who just started high school. I started to notice boys when I was in middle school, and I’d like to start dating soon.

The problem is I’ve never had a close friend who was a boy, and the idea isn’t natural to me. How can I ask a boy out if I don’t even grasp the concept of being friends with one? I’m frustrated over this, especially because I really like one particular guy.

The only advice I have been given is, “Get over your fear and just TALK to him.” This isn’t very helpful to me. I want to know how to get over my fear! Abby, your thoughts would be appreciated.

:Can’t Find The Nerve in Ohio

Dear Can’t Find The Nerve: I’ll gladly share some thoughts. The first is I hope you realize how many girls and guys your age feel EXACTLY the same way you do. Social skills don’t come naturally to everyone — but they can be learned. And like any learned skill, they take practice.

The surest cure for shyness — which is the “fear” you are experiencing — is to forget about yourself and concentrate on the other person. Smile and introduce yourself if the guy doesn’t know you. If you share a class with him or know an activity he’s involved in, ask a question about it. He’s not good at sports? Not musical? Ask him about a class assignment.

You don’t have to be brilliant or witty. Try leading off with a friendly remark or a compliment. (“Nice shirt, cellphone,” etc.) I know very few people who don’t appreciate a compliment. Overcoming shyness takes practice, so don’t go after the boy you “really like” at first. Make a point of smiling and saying hello to everyone. It’s friendly, it’s welcoming.

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