Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 2:28 am | Overcast 64º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Overcoming Shyness, Dating Rules from Mom, Feeling Like a Second Priority

Question from Seth

Hi. I’m 17 and I’m currently in college. Basically, my whole life I’ve been super shy and I have got just like three friends. When someone talks to me, I get in shock and run away from there ASAP.

I just really don’t know what to do. People who know me say I have a great and cool personality, but because of my shyness I’m gonna die alone.

Weezy

I don’t know why anyone would say something so extreme to you. Of course you are not going to die alone. Shyness is just one of your multitudinous personality traits. It’s one that you have to work through, but it certainly does not define you.

People are each millions of different things. You have your characteristics, your tendencies, your interests, your beliefs, your opinions, your talents, etc. etc. Some people are bold. Some are shy. Most of us are some combination of both. All people are terrified of not being loved and appreciated. Bold people just have a different way of hiding that fear or pushing through it. They storm ahead. Shy people hang back. Most people do something in between.

Take out a sheet of paper and list the things you know about yourself. We know that you are shy so start with that. What else?

Are you:

funny? kind? musical? artistic? mechanical? religious? sensitive? a good listener? a talented writer? a creative dresser? adventurous? intelligent? thoughtful? curious?

Are you good at ...

math? science? reading? computers? baking? sports? Are you interested in ...

history? travel? nature? animals? children? astronomy?

Once someone pushes past your shyness, who will they get to know? What will they value in you as a friend? We know that you have a good and cool personality. We know that your shyness creates a challenge, so tell yourself that you are up to that challenge and that the people of earth deserve to know such a good and cool person as yourself.

Give yourself homework. Every day, solemnly vow that you will saym “Hi, how’s it going?” to at least one stranger. It does not have to be a peer or anyone you know. It can be the janitor or someone who waits on you or the checkout guy or a lady who walks by you with a dog or a baby. Any person. Say “Hey,” to the baby. Do that once a day. It gets easier.

Shyness does not define you. It is just one part of you that makes you unique and you will overcome it.

(FarFromAverage video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Zoe

I had a long talk with my mom and she said that when I date a guy, I can’t hold his hand, hug or even kiss him because “it’s not what we believe in,” and I don’t understand why. She said that it might lead up to sex, but if something would ever happen like that, I know that I would say no since I know that I shouldn’t have sex before marriage.

I can’t believe that she doesn’t even trust me to hang out with a guy without it leading to anything sexual. She’s not listening to anything I say.

Weezy

I know that it feels like your mother is being completely unreasonable, but I also know and understand that her voice is coming to you directly from her own experiences and fears. There is a lot you do not yet know about what can go wrong. One of your mother’s primary responsibilities is to keep you safe and sound. She does not want your body or soul to be hurt in any way. She does not want you to get pregnant. She worries every time you leave the house. That’s the first part of my answer.

The second part is this ...

When your mom says, “It’s not what we believe in,” is she talking about religion? If she is, then you need to respect that. She has 18 years to teach you what she believes and to instill in you a moral character and compass and a set of values that you will take with you through life. You have your own mind and your own ideas, and those will intersect and interact with the lessons you are receiving. That blending will create your personal ideas and choices.

Here comes the third part of my answer ...

I don’t personally feel that a parent needs to draw the line of no return before holding hands, but your mom does. So hear her. To me, what’s important is that you don’t go too far and that you understand how quickly things can escalate when you really, really, really, really like a guy. You do need to talk with the guy and let him know where you are comfortable and where things would be going too far too fast. If he is not respecting your wishes, you do need to get up and remove yourself from a situation. In order to best protect yourself, you do have to be willing to make him unhappy.

When your mom speaks to you about these things, do more listening than talking. Don’t take it personally or assume that she does not trust you. She is simply scared. Ask her what things were like for her when she was your age. Ask her if she knows anyone who regrets going too far too young. Tell your mom that you understand her and that she is doing an excellent job of raising you to make great choices. Ask her for more trust. Earn it.

When you are with a guy, know where you are drawing a line. I think that learning how to hold hands and hug and communicate are important steps between two young people who are new to dating. Also important is learning how to talk to each other and choosing a partner who makes you feel heard.

And most important of all is you figuring out who you are and establishing your own guidelines that work for you. My first choice is that you follow your parents’ rules. My second is that you live safely within your own and that you adjust them as needed.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Ariel

This guy I like asked me out last year, and I turned him down because I was pretty busy (but I also didn’t trust him.) He asked me out again after we graduated, and I said yes because I always thought he was cute and I was curious.

Anyway, that was near the beginning of June. We never had a date set because I had a trip coming up halfway through June and he has work. I’ve been back since around June 25. He has work five days a week. But for some reason he never offers up the weekend for our date? And he frequently forgets things. For example, while on my trip we agreed to get something to eat for our date. He forgot that.

Then he said earlier this week that he might be free tomorrow (Friday), and he never got back to me so I had to ask. Turns out he just forgot to get back to me. I should also add that we rarely text and he never really talked to me at school despite having two classes together.

I started to get really excited for the date at the beginning because I’ve never been on one before, but now it’s making me get stressed out and upset. I’ve been caring too much about this, obviously.

Am I just overreacting or is something going on? And the problem is that sometimes he’s really sweet, which just leads me on. In one snap I said I wanted to dress like I used to during the first semester of school (on Snapchat), and he commented saying I should and it’s really cute. He says these little things, but so far his actions don’t seem to support what he’s saying.

Weezy

To me it sounds like he is playing you and many other girls. You deserve to be someone’s priority. When you are a priority, you will know it. The guessing game will be over. The guy will put you first and he will put thought into your dates.

This guy has not earned the right or the honor of being your first date, and I don’t think you should give it to him.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She also hosts a weekly video podcast called Things I Found Online, and teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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