I was the toddler who cried when the bus driver said hello to her and I earned the nickname of “Noddy” when I went the entire first semester of school not speaking to the teacher (I would just nod my head). My mother often recounted the day I finally rushed home “Mummy, mummy, I SPOKE to Miss Dixon!” “That’s nice, what did you say?” “Yes, Miss Dixon” I said with pride.
Making friends for me was always a slow and painful exercise but was made much easier once I married a sociable extrovert. However when we moved overseas, I suddenly found myself alone and friendless while he was at work. My shy inner-child re-emerged. Fortunately in most of the places we lived I found friendly fellow expats who reached out and drew me into tight and friendly expat communities. In time, I felt comfortable enough to extend my own hand of friendship to newcomers and locals alike.
In Dubai I started hosting a weekly coffee morning for expatriate women. For the first one there were 5 of us (all friends I had coerced to attend) but soon the group grew to 20 or more. From time to time I had announcements to make, gulp, I was public speaking!
Looking for a portable career, I enrolled in the CELTA course to learn how to teach English as second language. It was very intense, very hands-on, involving a lot of teaching practice. To say I was petrified to stand in front of class of 20 Emirati college students is an understatement. But I did it and I survived.
As a volunteer I got involved organizing the Terry Fox Run for cancer research. When I took over as Committee Chair one of my responsibilities was to take the microphone at the starting line to thank all the volunteers. As I looked out over a crowd of 12,000 people, my relief that we had a record turnout helped overcome my wobbly knees.
Each of these experiences was a valuable step along the road to overcoming my shyness and none would have happened if we hadn’t moved overseas.
This year I’ve been
strong-armed asked to moderate a panel discussion on expat blogging at the Families in Global Transition Conference in March. Fortunately the panelists are well known to me, as (I hope) will many of the audience. Inside that little girl is quaking at the prospect, I just hope I can shut her up with cookies. 🙂