How to Not Be Mousy

I actually do have great advice on how not to be mousy. In my youth, I was extremely, tragically, painfully shy. Pathologically shy, even. I couldn’t leave home for days because I couldn’t face people looking at me and possibly criticizing me. I would go hungry and thirsty all day in college because I was too shy to go into a cafe and order. Or even buy from a vending machine because what if it didn’t work and people noticed and that would be embarrassing? I wasn’t a child, I was an adult, divorced woman, and it was still this bad. Nobody who knows me today believes this because I’m now the exact opposite.

I trained myself out of it without any psychologists or any help from anybody. Here’s the recipe. You have to invent a different persona. Somebody who is exactly what you’d like to be. And be that person just for a couple of hours. Join a new group of people, a book club, a language course, a political group. It has to be in person, though. Online doesn’t work. Go to the first meeting of that group as this new person. Buy a different outfit for the persona. Change your name for the persona. If you are normally Katie, call her Kath. If you are Bill, call him Will. Playact at home and leave the house as this new person. Lock the door like she would, walk like she would, everything. Go meet the new group as Kath or Will and for a couple of hours be that person.

I did this when I was learning to speak Spanish, and my new persona was a Spanish speaker. Eventually, I enjoyed being the non-shy me so much that the persona became full-time.

Halloween is coming. It’s the perfect time to try out a costume and be different. This works for any personal quality, not just shyness. Are you indecisive, passive, or quiet? If you don’t like it, try being decisive, active or loud in the new persona, just for a bit. See how it goes and if you like it, repeat. If you aren’t popular with men or women and don’t have the personal life you would like to have, playact at being a mega desirable woman or man for a bit. Soon enough, you will actually become one.

Nobody is “just this way.” We all are a certain way because we had to be. And now we no longer do. We can change it.


3 thoughts on “How to Not Be Mousy

  1. “invent a different persona. Somebody who is exactly what you’d like to be. And be that person just for a couple of hours.”

    I phrase it a little differently, but that’s exactly what I tell students to do (and what I learned to do myself). I talk about an alter ego or a character that’s always to one side of you. When necessary you step sideways into that character and when it’s no longer need you step back….

    I also tell people to do that when faced with certain kinds of verbal hostility… the person is not yelling at you but the character next to you….


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