Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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July 1, 2008 |
Post to the Host:
I'm a psychiatric nurse practitioner and recently I have been thinking about shyness and it's sometimes disabling consequences for many people. I wonder if, as a shy person, you could say more about the power of shyness and how to encourage others who are literally frozen by this condition? I see shyness treated as a pathological condition with medication sometimes. Shyness is very difficult to understand if you are not.
I was a very ordinary sort of shy person—the gangly introverted adolescent from a strict fundamentalist background—an American classic—and what got me out of the downward spiral was a natural craving for attention that spurred me to write, and to go into radio (a perfect medium for a shy person), and then to read my writing in public, and then to do the show. A gentle ramp and there were all sorts of kind people along the way to keep me from slipping off, so when I look back, it doesn't seem particularly hard or heroic to me, though I do remember that feeling of being frozen. For some reason, interviewing people for my college newspaper filled me with terror, more so than standing up in front of an audience. Anyway, my shyness strikes me as circumstantial and nothing that anybody would prescribe medication for. And I'm in no position to give advice in these matters.