I am in my thirties and I have suffered from social phobia since my teens. Over the years, my shyness has improved in some ways. For example, tonight I attended a landscape design class and on several occasions I had to answer the instructor’s questions. There was a time when I would have never taken a class in which I had to speak. In the past, I only took very large classes in which I blended into the background and never had to make a comment or speak to anyone. The problem is that even though I am speaking up a little, and that is an improvement, I still feel great embarrassment about how apparent my shyness is to others. The instructor of this class has made comments to me several times about my shyness. He actually said to me, “You’re obviously a timid person.” I believe that when students are quiet, this instructor feels uncomfortable. I base this on comments he has made to others, such as “You’re such a quiet little mouse. You need to speak out and ask questions in front of the class instead of waiting to ask me afterwards.” And, he often says to the whole class in a irritated tone of voice “Give me feedback. Talk to me.” He believes he has the right to expect students to talk in class, and maybe he does. I’m not sure. This instructor is very competent in teaching landscape design and I enjoy what I have learned in class. However, because of his calling attention to my shyness, and to others’ shyness, I also dread attending class. How do I handle it when other people ask me “Why are you so quiet, shy, timid, etc.?” It is so frustrating when I am trying so hard to improve, and I am doing much better than before, and then I still hear (implied) “What’s wrong with you. Why are you so quiet and fearful?” Why is it that people consider it rude to say to someone, “You are so loud? Why do you talk so much?” And, yet, it is socially acceptable to say to someone, “You’re so quiet. Why don’t you talk more?” Behind the quiet, fearful exterior, I believe I am a person who is caring and intelligent and worthy of being in relationships with others. How can I let go of this wall of fear that distances me from other people?