Over the holidays, I read Grace Coddington’s memoirs. In case you are not familiar with who she is, allow me to give you what you need to know for the purposes of this post: she is Vogue’s creative director, which basically means that much of the imagery you see in Vogue is directly related to her. In her book, she recounts her growing up years in Wales and how she entered the world of fashion, as well as her working relationship with Anna Wintour. I read the book out of curiosity, but I found myself relating to her much more than I expected. She talks in great detail about how she grew up feeling extremely shy, and how, even today, she still struggles to deal with crowds or having to speak in front of people. She says there is nowhere that makes her happier than being at home with her cats and she has no desire to be running to glittery parties and fashion events.
My daughter struggles a great deal with being shy and doesn’t like to be in front of people. Both myself and my husband have always been “backstage people” too. In fact, this seems to be a common trait with lots of creative people. It is unfortunate that most of the time, kids are constantly being told they need to overcome their shyness, and that society seems to expect everyone to want the spotlight. The truth is, everyone is born with their own personality, and while we do have to work on our weaknesses so that we can succeed, we shouldn’t ever be trying to change ourselves into something we’re not. It is OK to be shy, and in my opinion, a good thing to learn to be happy without needing to be in the spotlight.
For this reason, I try very hard to respect my daughter’s feelings. I don’t push her to be the star of school plays or choir, etc., and I try to be careful to not even imply that she should want the solo parts when she’s just simply happier not being on a stage at all. The funny thing is, I’ve never heard a complaint from her about having to stand in front of her class to deliver a book report or similar things, so I am confident that her shy personality is not to her detriment. It is too bad that in general, society seems to condemn quieter personalities, because the truth is, some of us shy people are way stronger than anyone thinks.
I admire Grace Coddington very much for being at the top of her game, but especially for not trying to change herself into someone else while she was getting there. What a great message for all artists and creative people out there! Celebrate your creativity, put in the hard work, and you just never know where you’ll end up – even if you’re painfully shy!