The one thing I wouldn’t change about myself? My shyness

My shyness was seen as a drawback at school – but now I know it’s a strength and I’m proud of it

When I was eight, I moved to a new primary school. I’d spent the summer holidays writing an appeal to my mum, putting forward an argument for staying at the old school – that I loved – rather than starting at this strange new school. But to no avail. September came and I found myself in a new classroom, with a new teacher, surrounded by 30 new faces. As a shy child, this was fairly terrifying. And so when I was asked to stand up and introduce myself, I was trembling.

That first day, as I walked into the school hall for assembly, I didn’t know which hymn book to take so I copied the boy in front of me. When we sat down, cross-legged, on the floor, the head teacher spotted my error. “You were meant to take the blue book, not the green!” she shouted. I hadn’t realised and as a result it meant I messed up the whole line. I felt my cheeks burn as all heads turned to me.

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