Shyness and Otaku

The Geeky Panda did a video in which he talked about his personal struggles with shyness and social awkwardness and appealed to the geek community to endeavour to overcome their own bouts with shyness.

This is an issue that’s prominent among geeks, nerds, otaku, etc., but is rarely talked about seriously. What I find is that, a lot of the time, otaku-type people (The geeks, nerds, and other obsessives), who are societally encouraged to downplay aspects of themselves (Namely, their hobbies), fear the rejection and ostracism they receive if they step out of line (Societally-speaking) and, as a result, shrink away from social interaction. Thus begins a vicious cycle where lack of social interaction leads to shyness, which leads to a further lack of social interaction. It’s a paradigm that results in many of us retaining that shyness all the way into adulthood.

Some handle it better than others, obviously. Some of us realize, at some point, that worrying so much about being accepted by society-at-large is pointless and self-limiting, and adopt a “don’t give a damn” mentality with regards to what people think of the things we do in our spare time. There’s a large segment of us, however, that doesn’t handle the sort of societally-cultivated shyness and awkwardness that they suffered through school very well at all. It follows them into adulthood, resulting in a variety of destructive behaviours that result from their struggle with their nerd image, from holding other nerds in contempt for being too nerdy to trying to exercise superiority over nerds who’s hobbies they disapprove of.

J.T. Sexkik’s infamous “Waifusim” video touched on this subject a bit. People get trapped in their own minds, walled-in by false, self-limiting boundaries that masquerade as a protective shield from pain. It gets to the point where some people will actively shun social interaction because they begin to build an identity around how little time they spend face-to-face with other people, often throwing around the word “introvert” like it’s a status symbol, only to turn right around and commiserate with one another about how lonely they are.

I was both lucky enough and insightful enough to adopt the “don’t give a damn” mentality relatively early on, midway through high school. That didn’t, however, change my nature. It wasn’t a revolution, it was an evolution. It was me coming closer to being the best version of myself I can be. It’s remarkably difficult to get anywhere in the world without being comfortable interacting with other people, and the consequences of remaining in that bubble are more wide-reaching than they might at first seem.

Is succumbing to the self-induced short-term strain really worth not getting your dream job simply because you flaked when it was time to hit send on that email?

Is avoiding the momentarily-increased heartrate before asking that guy or girl out really worth never knowing whether he or she would have said “yes?”

It’s a vicious downward spiral that only needs to misery, regret, and depression, and too many of ours are caught in it. It’s one of those situations where something, anything, is better than nothing. Anything to begin that process of rising up out of that spiral and taking that evolutionary step as an individual. This is why I’m such a big fan of things like the Amagami Challenge. Anything that encourages people to take that first step on the journey to self-improvement is a good thing.

For starters, I’d say to take inspiration from our heroes in anime. For the story to move forward, the main character cannot be passive. He or she has to do something. Likewise, you cannot be passive. You must do something, or you will become a side character in the story your own life.