In defence of shyness

Here is Harold Nicolson writing ‘in defence of shyness’ in 1937:

‘Let us educate the younger generation to be shy in and out of season: to edge behind the furniture: to say spasmodic and ill-digested things: to twist their feet round the protective feet of sofas and armchairs; to feel that their hands belong to someone else …

For shyness is the protective fluid within which our personalities are able to develop into natural shapes. Without this fluid the character becomes merely standardized or imitative: it is within the tender velvet sheath of shyness that the full flower of idiosyncrasy is nurtured: it is from this sheath alone that it can eventually unfold itself, coloured and undamaged.’

2 thoughts on “In defence of shyness

  1. Idioc(syncras)y

    Oh, dear…I feel like weeping! Not far from 21st century Britain where national careers videos on successful interviews urge one to be ‘humble’ when seeking a job! One such video prompted me to look up ‘humble’ in the dictionary again, but in the end, I could not quite grasp the depth of the advice.

    He is right about shyness as a protective shield though, even though I am not quite sure about the ‘full flower of idiosyncrasy’ and the ‘undamaged’. It seems always already too late for ‘undamaged’…


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