Here's Melanie: I've always been shy and a bit unsure of myself—probably because I've always been overweight. And as a result, I've suffered from low self esteem. I love meeting new people, but it takes me a long time to open up and get to know them. And I'm terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. That panicked feeling is probably why I love the Internet so much. It's anonymous, and I don't have to talk to people face to face.
Part of my fear comes from seventh grade, I'm sure, when I signed up for speech without realizing what kind of class it was. Talk about being traumatized! Once I realized I would actually have to stand up in front of the other students and talk, I freaked out. My mom asked me to stay in the class and give it a try, so I did—until the day of my first speech, when I stood in front of the class on shaky legs listening to the boys make fun of me. My cheeks burned. I felt nauseated, and I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. The teacher wasn't any help at all. Somehow, though, I made it through my speech, but I never ever went back to that class. I went to the office the next day instead and convinced my counselor to let me drop it and add another elective. I don't even remember what it was now, but it was better than speech.
All these years later, I still don't like to speak in public. I do okay in discussions around a table, with everyone seated and many people participating, even though my face still gets warm and my cheeks flame—but I refuse to stand up in front of a group. I'm supposed to speak next month at a writers' group about three hours away, discussing my publishing history, how long it took me to get published, and where I want to go from here, and I plan to sit and deliver my talk. I've been practicing this with other people, and so far, so good. I just hope I don't panic.
Books have always been a great escape for me, and I know plenty of other introverts who read a lot, too. Be sure and check out my titles on my website at http://www.melanieatkins.com/ and on my blog at http://melanieatkins.wordpress.com/.