How I overcame my shyness

Shaun Wiseman (15)

Shaun Wiseman first sailed with OYT Scotland in 2016 as a shy, introverted 12 year old. Now, at 15, he is a confident young man, excelling both academically and socially and is well on course to becoming a professional triathlete. Shaun attributes this change in attitude and fortune to his experiences at sea with OYT Scotland. Read his story below…

“Born and brought up until the age of 8 in Maybole, Ayrshire I only ever remember having one friend, Reece. I started my school life in Garden Rose primary school but after a year I moved to Ayr grammar but unfortunately I was shy and didn’t meet new friends in that school so still Reece was my only friend. Reece stayed in Garden Rose but as he lived next door we remained friends. At that time I didn’t realise that only having one friend was considered slightly odd and I didn’t really give it any thought. At the age of eight my family moved to Greenock because of work commitments and I found myself in Whinhill Primary. I immediately felt isolated, as I was now parted from the only friend I ever had and I was quite unhappy. At that age I didn’t own a phone and unfortunately I didn’t keep in touch with Reece and hadn’t spoken to him after I left Maybole.

In Whinhill primary while I met a few boys they were strictly school friends as we never visited each other’s houses. Slowly I came to realise that my inability to make friends was down to my crushing shyness and when I moved to 1st year at Clydeview Academy I vowed to become more proactive and try to overcome what I felt was a disability. However as hard as I tried I still was unable to make friends at school and I decided that more drastic action was required.

My mum works for a sailing charity so I thought about perhaps sailing. My mum brought home a form from Ocean Youth Trust Scotland offering a week long sailing experience departing from Oban and circumnavigating the Isle of Skye, before returning to the port of origin. My mum was keen for me to go, but the thought of spending a week in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a yacht with eleven other young people filled me with terror. However my mother paid for the trip and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going! For three nights I lay awake tossing and turning trying to figure out how I could get out of the trip but part of me understood that this would benefit me in trying to overcome my shyness and I decided to cast adrift my reservations, gird my loins and prepare for the trip. The first day we alighted the yacht and I was extremely nervous and a little scared. This was not helped when we were shown the sleeping arrangements- boys and girls in one cabin with bunkbeds, all be it a curtain around each bed and separate toilets.

Shaun competing in one of many triathlons he has completed in aid of OYT Scotland

One aspect that did take my mind off worrying about my fellow students was the spectacular scenery and surprisingly sunny weather for the west coast of Scotland. The first three days flew in as I learned various sailing techniques and also it was our responsibility to clean the boat. The work was hard but rewarding and before I knew it I was interacting with all my fellow students and actually felt quite at home. The trip was great fun, I met some interesting people and although none became friends I left the ship more confident than when I arrived.

That summer truly inspired me and since then I have stayed with ocean youth trust Scotland, taken various sailing qualifications, I have talked to school students with the organization spreading the word of the charity and how it makes a positive difference in young people’s lives. The setting of sailing really inspires this help to young people as a boat can’t sail with only three people working: everyone has to be a part of the team for the boat to sail and I strongly believe that’s why Ocean Youth Trust Scotland are an excellent charitable cause.

How the organization has positively affected me is I am now a much more gregarious and resilient person and have normal school friends and a couple of friends from the charity. I no longer feel isolated, I am much happier in myself and I would recommend anyone who suffers from shyness like I did to take the huge step to join an organization whether sailing, sports, boys brigade, guides, try to slowly integrate myself in the group, remembering that other young people there will feel exactly the same way I do and hopefully that will help you overcome your shyness. It is essential that you don’t become isolated or a prisoner in your own home at such a young age, as it could have profound affects for the rest of your life.

Now I go around with the charity spreading the word of the wonderful work they do at sea. In the past I have visited schools to inform them about the voyage they are about to undertake and relax their nerves like someone did for me. I have also visited deprived areas of the country giving less fortunate kids the opportunity to get on the right path again. They do this through a cashback program giving disadvantaged kids a chance to experience this amazing trip and get them some SQA qualifications at the same time. I have also met members of the Scottish parliament through the charity which I wouldn’t have done a couple of years ago as I would have been too shy this is another positive effect this experience has had on me. In conclusion I still keep in touch and cooperate with Ocean youth trust Scotland a lot to help change young lives at sea.”

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