Only confidence works
I consider myself a shy person. It feels unnatural for me to talk much unless I know the people I am with very well. Starting or keeping a conversation is difficult, as everything I am about to say is weighed back and forth at least a few times before I can actually say it. By the time it is finished evaluated, the time for that sentence is gone anyway.
However, I am not so shy that I have problems when I have some task to complete. This makes it much easier in aikido as we always have some very specific things to work on when I meet my partner.
Still, doing things like taking the center of the partner could be considered something quite personal. We enter the partner’s personal area. It is very easy, maybe even more so if we are shy, to hesitate. I have had very good help with exactly this problem by personal instruction from good friends and amazing aikido instructors. By working on this I do not only change my aikido, these things connect to how I act outside the dojo as well.
Of course, after I have been doing keiko with someone I know them well enough to speak relaxed with them whereas the conversation would stagger if we spoke before we met on the tatami. The communication we do in aikido breaks the ice and I get the feeling of knowing the person even if we never spoke a word to each other. However, it also changes the way I am able to act towards people I don’t know. So aikido is making me less shy!
This hesitation I mentioned can also be connected with the “extending/lowering the arm exercises” (or tai no tenkan). If we know for a fact that we can do it we can do it is really easy. If we know we will have a problem there will be a problem waiting for us exactly where we suspected it might be. It could be that our mind created the problem already before anything was wrong in the first place.
Enjoy your practice! Aikido make people happy!