Living ADDventure logo

Shyness and ADHD

Pat childThroughout my childhood I was labelled painfully shy.

In class I wouldn't ask questions or volunteer answers, oral exams were terrifying and going into a shop which wasn't self service was something I avoided as much as possible.

I missed out on so many opportunities because I refused to participate. I was afraid of everyone and terrified of making a fool of myself.

This description from Wikipedia perfectly describes who I was.


"The primary defining characteristic of shyness is a largely ego-driven fear of what other people will think of a person's behavior. This results in a person becoming scared of doing or saying what he or she wants to out of fear of negative reactions, being laughed at or humiliated, criticism, and/or rejection. A shy person may simply opt to avoid social situations instead."

Shortly before she died, my Mom described me as her "daydreamer child" and as I have learned more about ADHD, I think I understand what happened to me and no doubt what happens to others with the condition, particularly those who have the Inattentive type.

TypesOfADHDLike most people with ADHD - I am of the Combined Type (inattentive and hyperactive) and I am super impulsive. The Inattentive Type is the typical day-dreamer and we spend hours in our heads.

We don't cause chaos in the classroom and are often regarded as "model pupils". Of course if you don't ask (or answer) questions it hampers the learning process as there is no guarantee you have understood or heard what has been taught.

I am surmising, but it makes sense to me that as a child I was probably in my own world when the teacher would ask me a question. I would be humiliated because I couldn't answer or I would impulsively blurt something out to cover for my inattention. I was probably laughed at a few times. I know my family teased me for being shy and of course it became a pattern. To avoid looking a fool I wouldn't take risks, I wouldn't join clubs or do anything where I might fail.

Another typical characteristic of ADHD is that we are often clumsy which adds to our feelings of incompetence. The reason we are clumsy is not always because we have poor muscle control but rather because we are not paying attention and we mis-judge corners, steps etc.

In our house we have a blank wall at the end of our passage dividing our bedroom from the bathroom. I frequently walk down the passage intending to go the bathroom, see something on the bed and walk straight into the wall because I can't decide which direction to go.

As an adult I can now laugh about it even though it is still embarrassing but as a child it was just another indicator of how stupid I was.

When I was in my early 20s a friend said to me that "shyness is simply vanity, people don't care about you that much". This was mortifying for me to hear and I forced myself to start doing things but it was hard. My self esteem was non-existent and I couldn't find the balance between being confident and aggressive.

It is only since I started the pdfLiving_ADDventure_Coaching_Process.pdf that I learned how to love myself, to value myself and become more confident in my abilities and to accept who I am. I am also more careful about the way I drive, I walk more slowly (when I remember) and I am never afraid to ask questions anymore no matter how silly they may seem.

I am still not a wild extrovert and never will be but I no longer live with that terrible fear of failure. If I do fail, which I do pretty regularly because I am continually pushing myself to be a better person, I can forgive myself, apologise and move on.

Life is good.

Share To Care

If you know someone who would benefit from this, please share it to them via the social media icons below, or email it using the last icon. If you want us to contact you about ADHD coaching or training, please fill in the form on the right-hand side of this page

Know The Jargon - ADHD Acronyms

Here are some of the common ADHD acronyms and what they mean

ADDer - a person who has ADHD or ADD

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder

SCT - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo - new name for ADD

ODD - Oppositional Defiance Disorder

CD - Conduct Disorder

OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Bi-polar - Bi-polar Disorder, used to be Manic-Depression

SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder

PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder

ACT -  Action Consequence Trigger - monitoring forms devised and supplied by Living ADDventure®



Go to top