Shy or Just Safe? Differently Wired Girls

More musings about Differently Tuned-In Children
by Teresa Currivan, LMFT

I remember when, in first grade, my grandmother died. I loved her. She was a cookie-making, red-cheeked grandmother who was full of love and always happy to see me who we called “Oma.” I was not distraught when she died, but her death was most of what was on my mind for a few weeks. So one day, in the middle of class, I raised my hand when the teacher asked a question, and when she called on me, I said, “My grandmother died.” It seemed the obvious thing to say, from my perspective. Death was very important and it was my grandmother, and I was trying to make sense of it. 

My teacher seemed very upset and responded with, “I’m sorry about your grandmother, but that’s not what we are talking about right now.” But her tone, and how disturbed she seemed at my statement was not at all what I was expecting. 

I often describe to people that I am a shy person and that I was very shy when I was younger. But the more I understand differently wired girls, the more I can see that by being “shy,” I was probably just keeping myself safe. I was pretty gregarious and sometimes a bit much when I was comfortable – you can ask any of my sisters, or good friends from long ago. I believe I developed a kind of safety net so that I didn’t speak, lest I be rejected from others’ approval, or worse, reject myself. 

I think that twice-exceptional and differently wired children who are sensitive yet strong-minded can go in this direction too. Perhaps especially girls. 

© 2022 Teresa Currivan