W2811 Thyrza - to an afflicted friend on shyness.
Jan 1 1900
It is not without a degree of hesitation, that I have ventured to address to you this communication I almost fear that your delicate sensibilities will be shocked at the forwardness of a lady in presuming to address if a comparative stranger, but I trust you will at least appreciate my good intentions, when I assure you, that no ordinary degrees of sympathy in your case could have overcome my most bashful scruples. But I have formerly suffered so much myself from the affliction of which you complain, that if my expressions will be of any use to another, I am willing he shall have the benefit of it.
I know not well, sir, how to communicate your heart fluttering, uncouth movements to, and monosyllabic conversation in the presence of strangers. It now imprecisely such a situation, that I discovered the cause of my disease. I was sitting a motionless statue in a corner of a room filled with social and happy fellow beings. Mortified and vexed with myself at the awkward and unsocial appearance I made I undertook to analyze my feelings, & to ascertain why I could not feel as much at ease as there about me, & I came to the conclusion that that all the differently arose from my self-esteem. I was constantly thinking of myself; how I appeared, what others would think of me, & fearing all the time but I should violate some unknown rate of etiquette—I turned my eyes—yes, I actually moved my chair sufficiently to look around at the various groups of persons in the room every one was engrossed in conversation; no one seemed to be aware of my presence. Truly thought &, there is not occasion for giving myself all this anxiety! What supreme self-conceit in me to suppose that I am of sufficient consequence to attract their attention. I blushed at the thought. I resolved to lay aside my solitary dignity & according by approached the nearest group for the purpose of listening to their conversation. Beg soon & friend, as if to assist my monthly resolution directed his conversation to me & I gradually regain myself possession, until I actually forgot myself in enjoying the intelligent conversation of my companion. Since then I have improved every opportunity of going into society: and allow me to, I do not approve your resolution to exclude yourself from it. I believe that while we have kind & amiable feelings, which are the foundations of true politeness, we need not fear that our manners with be very exceptions able & it is only by mingling frequently in society that we can acquire ease of manner which it is desirable to posses.
For my one post I think it better to err on the side of diffidence than self-confidence, & I believe I express the feelings of most ladies, when I say, that the bashful man in the corner possesses far more of the agreeable, than the self-confident fellow, who is ever disgusting you will his impertinent loquacity, nudging you elbow, or when he speaks, obtunding his paper so near your face, that you involuntarily start back for fear of coming into collision.
I have only to subscribe myself your unknown but real friend.