There's one common thing that my teachers used to tell my mum - I could do so much better if I speak up and participate in class. I was (actually... still am) the type of student who would whisper the correct answer to my seat mate rather than shout it in class or simply raise my hand and wait for the teacher to recognise me. My classmates loved me for that, a lot of them would hear my whisper and hope that they will get called by the teacher and get praised for stating the correct answer. As for myself, I'm very much contented in knowing the fact that I knew the answer to the question. The biggest downside of this problem is that most teachers probably only recognise me by face.
This became a big problem though when I moved to New Zealand, I didn't know anyone at all. I remember the first 5 months in my new school, it was not too good. My English teacher told everyone in class that I was the only one who got an Excellence (A+) in creative writing and no one even knew who "Nicole" was (my nickname in school.)
I can't also even recall how many times I got the wrong order in a restaurant and never said a word about it because I was too shy and I didn't want to cause any more trouble for the employees. I am too conscious of being a burden to anyone, especially strangers.
Whenever my phone rings and the call is coming from an unknown number, I just let it ring. I don't want to deal with someone over the phone if I don't know who that person is. I need to overcome that though because most of them were people calling for job interviews. I suck, I know.
When I think about all the opportunities that I've wasted because of my shyness, I feel really upset. My teachers used to tell my mum that I could have done better, or I could have been a better student if I participated more. I've turned down so many programs and events because I didn't want to deal with people and all the other stuff that were outside my comfort zone.
I'm slowly trying to overcome it, step by step. Wishing I could turn back time and do things differently is a complete waste of time so perhaps, it's better to move on and just think about the opportunities that lie ahead in the future.
If I were to have kids someday, I would tell them everyday that speaking up in class would give them a brighter future. That telling the waiter that he gave them the wrong order is alright and nothing to be scared about. That answering your phone even though it's from an anonymous is ok, just say 'hello' and see how it goes. That participating in school activities is more fun than staying at home and seeing all the photos on Facebook the following day.
Being shy sucks... But I'll beat it someday.