Now then. I was just reading a friend's post about how twice before she'd let opportunities slip by because she was shy. "I'd be intruding." "There will be a next time." These were the excuses given. Except there never was a next time, in either case. A chance to speak with someone she cared about, or was simply a big fan of, got away. She didn't let it happen again, and was rewarded with a nice conversation with another person whose work she admired.
I couldn't help thinking back on some of the things I'd done in the past. Times I hadn't passed on the chance, and was glad I didn't.
I've talked before about my relationship with Jane Lindskold. While I still see her as a mentor, she's a dear friend first. I can't imagine my writing life without her in it. And yet, how easily I could have missed out on it. It was on a pure whim that I sent her my feedback on her Firekeeper novels. I was VERY young emotionally back then, and also very shy. I almost didn't. Yet from that one e-mail, a deep relationship has grown.
Then there's my gaming faction, Nemesis. I never shared this story, but I had been looking for a new faction after the one I was in... well... it was collapsing, and in an ugly way I might add. It was time to move on. But I couldn't level up fast enough to get into the faction I wanted. They kept raising it faster than I could raise my own. So I looked elsewhere.
While watching some players fight against each other, I saw one player who seemed good in battle, but also appeared to be good natured about it. Oh there was some trash talk, but there always is, and he wasn't abusive or insulting. Their faction was doing decently enough in the territory wars, so, after about nine tries, I got around to asking him about joining.
I spent three years in Nemesis, and it made such a mark I made a patch and wrote a poem when they disbanded, this time in the best way possible. Got half the faction crying too from what I hear.
Twice, major events in my life happened because I took a chance. I was shy back then. Extremely shy. Talking to a player online is one thing. There is a certain disconnect that can make that easier sometimes. But a random letter to an author? Oh she must get hundreds of letters, why would she bother to even read mine? A reply? Forget it! Oh it might be some simple "thank you for your interest, I'm glad you liked my novel, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera." No way it would be a personal message of any kind.
Just think what I would have missed, had I listened to those doubts.
It's easy to do though. We convince ourselves it's not worth it, and at times, for decent sounding reasons. Then again, what will we really lose? There's a difference between demanding a raise at work, and trying to talk to someone you think highly of. How often do you get to meet your favorite author, actor, or sports star? You know I actually shook Philip Rivers' hand once? He was coming in while I was waiting for a tour of the San Diego Chargers facility to start. I held my hand out, left it up to him. He stopped, offered a quick, "Hi, nice to meet you," with the shake, then kept going. He felt in a hurry, and I didn't push. Still, I got to shake the hand of my favorite football team's starting Quarterback. Not many can say that.
Now what if he had ignored me? What would that have cost? Not a lot. And I was ready for him to resist for any number of reasons. Playing pro football is a busy job. I could understand him passing by, especially if he's running late, or maybe he hurt his hand in practice that day.
Though back to the more "normal" for a second. The idea of "I don't want to intrude" can be valid, but it's not enough on it's own to pass up a chance you may never get again. Now if you get hints that whoever it is would rather not talk, for whatever reason, then you back off. Otherwise, take a chance. Don't be shy. That chance may never come again.
Had I not waited so long, I might have gone to prom with a date. I had a crush then. Today, had I the chance, I'd still think very highly of her. Would it have gone further had I asked her back then? Maybe. I'll never know now.
Thankfully, I didn't wait on Nemesis or Jane Lindskold. For as long as I live, I'll be glad I didn't.