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Without CHANGE, there will be NO BUTTERFLIES (My Birthday Reflection)

People can't believe I was timid! I'm telling you guys I really was! It's my birthday month so I will share with you the story about my metamorphosis. A lesson here on how to overcome your low self-esteem.

Do you wait for people to greet you on your birthday?

I usually don't.

In the Philippines, when you wear a  red outfit, people will joke and greet you "Happy Birthday", even though nobody really ever wears red on their birthdays.

Except me.

I wear red on my birthday. So when they greet me and I say, "Thank you!" - the joke's on them!  They are like, "Is it really your birthday today?" I even announce it myself if there is a meeting or an office gathering.  I don't want to wait and see if people will remember, because the truth is, they usually don't. 

I'm guilty of forgetting too. Except for really close friends or family, I rely on facebook.  For sensitive friends, I even keep a reminder on my phone calendar.

Anyway, growing up, I wasn't as confident and okay with attention as I am now. I was really timid and shy.

In my elementary school, we had a daily flag ceremony.  Teachers will call the birthday celebrant/s for the day to stand in front. Then everyone in school will sing the Happy Birthday song.

I didn't like that. I didn't want people's attention at me.

I remember during a Christmas party back then, they were serving spaghetti. I debated whether I should accept it even though I was really hungry. Still, I declined and let my stomach curse all afternoon.

During Grade 6, most of my classmates acted in a play. I really wanted to join and be part of the limelight. Still, I chose to be an usherette and watch enviously in the dark, while they shine under the spotlight.

Need I say more about crushes?

One night, my Lola Etring and I were outside the house talking. She said, "Walang napapala ang mahiyain".  "Nothing is gained when you are shy."

I got her message loud and clear. It hit me like lightning. She was so right!  How did she know that I let a lot of things pass me by just because I was too shy to ask? She couldn't have known! No one knew...

No one knew I also wanted spaghetti. No one knew I wanted to sing and dance in that play too. No one knew I wanted to be close to that cute boy whose name we won't mention in this blog (or any other blog... or ever!).

And just like that... with a flick of a magic wand (or my Lola's magic umbrella - 'cause she was always carrying one), I decided to change.

Luckily for me, this happened while I was still in high school. Still, the change did not happen overnight.

If you're an adult and still remain shy sometimes, which holds you back from achieving your career goals, here are 5 tips on how to overcome your shyness or timidness.

1. Understand who you are. 

I heard the story about a caterpillar who was so scared to get out of the cocoon because she thinks she's wrinkled and ugly. She had no idea she was destined to become a beautiful butterfly.

I believe I'm mostly timid rather than shy. Although in the Philippines, when someone is not comfortable around people or when someone is nervous to perform on stage, it's the same thing... we call them "mahiyain".

For me, I like to compare myself with my cousin who was also named Fatima.  She mostly kept to herself and doesn't go out of the house, except to go to school.  She never went out with her friends and rarely talks even around family.  That is what you call shy. Don't worry folks! A prince charming found her even though she was like Rapunzel trapped on top of a stairless tower.

However, my cousin Fatima won a beauty contest, she was a majorette, and she had the nerve to join a solo singing competition. Since that's something I can never do when we were young, call me timid. Don't worry, I found my prince charming too.

2. Why are you still trapped inside your cocoon? 

Part of the reason why people are timid or shy is that they are scared of what other people will say about them. Like the caterpillar, all they can see is their wrinkled body and all the negative things.  They know that they are missing out, but they are just too afraid.

In my case, I was trapped inside my cocoon because I had low self-esteem. 

I did perform before. I danced the lambada on stage. However, my sister and cousins laughed at me saying my body was as stiff as a board.  I did sing. However, my aunts always tell me I'm off tune. (Don't worry, they know better. Suddenly, they're all praises for our little ones now.) I still think I could have learned how to dance or sing better if I wasn't discouraged.

How about you? What's stopping you from facing the world?

3. Spread your wings.

When I was young, I loved reading.  My uncle Freddie would treat me ice cream or mais con yelo if I perform. Whenever I do public speaking, he would reward me with money. He was so proud of me it was overwhelming. It made me believe I was really good at it.

Sometimes, it only takes one person's encouragement to keep you going.

However, don't expect to be the best. Don't expect there won't be any embarrassment along the way.  Don't expect there won't be any judgment.

Since I want to speak up in public but the timidness is still within me, I joined the Toastmasters club to learn to become a good public speaker.  It was a safe environment where I can make mistakes and have a chance to do better.

When I need to talk to new people, it still makes me nervous. However, I usually prepare by getting to know a little bit about them before the meeting and going through the things that I should and should not share with them.

In starting this blog, I open myself up to people. Every time I post something, I draw attention to myself. In a sense, I'm pushing myself up to a whole new level.  I've always wanted to write but I was too scared of other people's judgment.  This year, I realized, I don't care.  I will let them judge me. I will let them misunderstand me. I will let them gossip. I will even let them discourage me. Sometimes, it only takes one person's encouragement to keep you going.  Even if that person is yourself.  Just spread your wings.

4. Let your beauty inspire the world.

If you are still feeling shy sometimes, just keep on remembering your goals. You need to recognize that fear is just a signal for the good things that are about to happen.

Think about fear as an essential part of the transformation. When you're ready, I know that there is just so much more you can do and accomplish. Whatever you're afraid of, don't let that fear stop you.

5. Fly

I was talking to my mentor once and I asked her how she became good at speaking in front of people. She is just so confident all the time. I asked her if she ever gets nervous. She said she still does, it's part of the excitement.  Then she gave me one simple piece of advice:


Fast forward into the future, people will also look at you and say, "Are you kidding? I don't believe you were ever shy!"

Special thanks to those who did not forget me on my birthday. To Dee Arbo, you asked why I greeted myself happy birthday early in the morning and earlier than everyone else, here's my answer.

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