Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 43, Tuesday November 06, 2007



Dear Nighat Ara,
I am a boy of 18, just out of high school. For some reason, I lack confidence to speak up and mix with people. This is particularly acute when I meet new people and strangers. Even when I see old acquaintances that I have not seen for a long time, I prefer not to talk to them and consequently, avoid them.

It also took me a very long time to make friends at school, and even speak up in class. It's not that I fear talking to people- I am just confused. I don't feel like talking to people. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they get the wrong impression of me?

Now that I am going to university, I want to change. I want to turn over a new leaf and meet new people. Please tell me what to do.

Shy guy

Ans: You seem to be a smart young man with lot of self-awareness and self-monitoring capacity. Shyness is just part of you but surely not all about you. You are only 18 years old, no doubt you feel confused. This is how you are supposed to feel!! This is the stage in life when people feel confused about self-identity. In trying to figure out “who am I”, they are exploring all sorts of different things (starting from hair colour to what not!!) in life to decide what suits them most and where they belong.

Shyness around people can also be a personality trait, not everybody is meant to be a public person. Some people make friends easily and leave them easily, some tend to take it slowly and do the initial mental work as they invest more commitment in friendship. Familiarity is an important issue in building relationships. A natural “Fear of unknown” keeps people away from strangers. It is also a safety tool that is very important in ensuring personal safety and can actually protect a person from many dangerous situations.

Self-doubts (What if I say the wrong thing? What if they get the wrong impression of me?) are also playing a role in your ability to socialise with others. According to cognitive behaviour therapy irrational thoughts are to be challenged/disputed and then replaced by a more rational thought. Since an irrational thought (e.g. “What if I say the wrong thing?”) generates irrational feeling (fear of being judged by others) and leads to an irrational action (avoid speaking up in the class), in order to break this vicious cycle one has to voluntarily interrupt the automatic negative thought process by self-monitoring techniques. Challenge this irrational thought (e.g. what are the evidences that I say the wrong thing? Do I always say the wrong thing?), replace it with a more rational one (“I may or may not say the wrong thing”). Prepare for the worst scenario- what would happen if you do say the wrong thing and people do get a wrong impression about you? What is the highest cost of that situation, can you cope with it? What is it that you need to do to cope with that situation?

The irrational thought, ”What if they get the wrong impression of me?” and consequent irrational feeling of being judged by others as good or bad, right or wrong, can be a projection of your own judgmental mind on to others. This can be further explored in therapy sessions to identify what is coming from inside you and what is coming from outside sources.

Trying to find the answer of all kind of “what if” is an irrational attitude, a perfectionism trait. Spending too much time on analysing “what if” actually stops us from doing the thing in time and potentially leads to procrastination. Lighten up, have the courage to make some mistakes and learn from it. What's the point of taking life so seriously? Once in a while, all of us probably can afford to discover that we are the biggest joke around! See the funny part in it and enjoy the humour!! A good sense of humour can actually make people more flexible and less guarded.

Your statement “I don't feel like talking to people” may be an expression of normal human conflict between a desire for intimacy and a desire for isolation. Along the path of emotional growth, most people eventually find a comfortable balance between the two.

Going to university is a big milestone in life and definitely it requires some preparatory work. I'm glad that you are willing to change- then take the driver's seat, fasten the seat belt and decide where you would like to go with it (a metaphor). Change is often a passive process that follows self-realization and brainstorming.

Overestimating others and underestimating self is a block to natural spontaneous communication. Learning to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive helps a person to be more confident in social set ups. Remember some assertiveness rights - the right to say, “I don't know.” the right to have an opinion, the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them (thereby not allowing others to manipulate me over my mistakes), the right to be independent of the goodwill of others (e.g. it would be unrealistic to expect others to approve of all my actions, regardless of their merit.), the right to be illogical in making some decisions (logic can not predict what will happen in every situation. Logic is not much help when dealing with want, motivations and feelings, particularly in teen years).

Believe in your strength and embrace your weaknesses to bring real changes in life. Best wishes for coming days.

What is the meaning of payment in due course?
When a payment of cheque is made to the person in possession of the cheque in good faith, without negligence and in accordance with the apparent tenor of the cheque.

Can a bearer cheque favouring a company be paid to an unknown person?
Ideally a cheque for an amount favouring a company when presented by a person to the Bank for cash payment not known to the bank is discouraged for payment, because it is unusual that a cheque favouring a company will be negotiated. The only repository of the company's fund is the bank account, which can receive payment.

What is the significance of the word Account Payee written on the face of the cheque?
When a cheque is crossed 'account payee' it ceases to be negotiated and therefore should not be collected for any one other than the original payee. It also becomes the solemn duty of the banker collecting the payment of the cheque to credit the proceeds only to the account of the named payee.
What is a general crossing and a special crossing?
A general crossing is meant by drawing two parallel lines, without any other words in between them, across the cheque or in the corner of the cheque. A special crossing is again two parallel lines across the cheque or in the corner of the cheque with words like bank's name, branch name in between them. It can only be paid to the specified bank mentioned in the crossing. Whereas a general crossing is payable to any bank where the account of the payee is maintained.

By the way
The fat factor

Stay the weight you were at 18 next to not smoking, this is probably the most important thing we can do to stay healthy and live longer. Leanness matters, because fat cells produce hormones that raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.

They also make substances called cytokines that cause inflammation stiffening the arteries and the heart and other organs. Carrying excess fat also raises the risk of some cancers. Add it up, and studies show that lean people younger than age 75 halve their chances of premature death, compared with people who are obese.

So to maintain the weight that's right for you, you periodically try to slip into the dress you wore during your
high school and university days.

If not, aim for a body mass index of about 23.5.

Under a different sky
By Iffat Nawaz

To be Mine
They are all passing me by one by one. Will I be the last one? What if I am the last one to finish, and will it really even matter if I am the last one? I just want to finish it, just finishing it will do…will I be able to?”

Those thoughts were with me at the beginning of the race Sunday October 28th, around 8:50 a.m., 30 minutes after I had began running the Marine Corps Marathon 2007 with 30,000 others. I spent most of the day before in my couch with my laptop and Desh Puja Shonkha, staring out the window, feeling melancholy, my body and mind dreading tomorrow. I was having second, third, fourth thoughts about the marathon. Should I? Will I? Why? What will happen if I don't?

But with all those thoughts I still ate a full dinner of pasta and went to bed semi early and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready. I took a shower half sleeping, got dressed and stepped out into the cold DC street heading over to the start line of the Marathon.

A marathon is 26.2 miles or 41.92 Kilometers. I hadn't run that far in my life, and to me running that much seemed impossible, but I still wanted to give it a shot.

Why? Well, I am not really sure. It was a good five years ago when I started running for fun. Not in a regular basis, on the treadmill (though I hate those) and running outside when the weather was nice; but they were too few and far in between. I remember once hitting the gym and running fast on a treadmill when a big, strong and buff ex-co-worker of mine working out next to me commented on my running (I never learnt to run gracefully), and I told him one day I want to run the marathon. And he with his American footballer's body and face gave me a big smile and said
that's a big hope for a little girl like me.

I know he didn't mean to sound cruel and it was all taken in good humor. There was also some seriousness there, because we both knew I would not run the marathon ever. People like me don't run the marathon; at the most we run 3 or 4 miles a few times a week. How many little brown girls want to kill themselves over a marathon? According to his stereotypes and even mine, we are not athletic, we are not even borderline active. We diet to lose weight and do Pilates and yoga.

And I forgot all about it too…or I thought I did, until last year came around and something inside got twisted, like an ankle or a pretzel. And I had the bright idea again, to run a marathon.

In February I met a man in a Russian village, Victor was his name. He was in his 50s, ran 7 kms everyday, he was this spiritual, energetic, eccentric fellow. He spoke only in Russian and I spoke only in English. But some how we related and through gut feelings and translators I told him I was going to run the marathon this year. He said he was very impressed and I realized I was not sure if I was lying or telling him the truth.

But somewhere between February and October I took it seriously, and that day, that Sunday as I ran with the Marines giving me water and fruits to survive along the way, mile 18, 22, 24 somehow I kept on going. No music, no friend next to me to keep me company, no family around to feed me afterwards, just some thoughts, thinking about myself, others, words, songs, lyrics, people, strangers, viewers, watchers, cheerleaders, hills and flat lands, roads and monuments, I finished, a medal around my neck a blanket around my shoulders, I hugged a loved one who finished a bit before me, we both had tears in our eyes. I looked up, not looking at anything or anyone, still not sure why I ran it, it wasn't revenge, proof, love, sorrow, sadness, to be last or the first. It was just…running…a part of me moving through up and down and in loops for myself, to be mine…



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2007 The Daily Star