Even if you’ve never met me in person (and if you’re reading this, I really doubt you have, because I don’t tell people I know about my blog, other than my sister), you can probably guess that I’m kind of a shy person. I don’t comment on other people’s blogs nearly as much as I could and should (although the fact that I went on vacation recently and am way behind on posts is one of the reasons, so it’s not all my shy personality!) and I rarely interact with other people on social media. I tend to lurk and check out other blogs and such without living a big mark. I’m like this in real life as well, which means I never seem to have the fun adventures that some contemporary protagonists get into (and yes, I realize it’s fiction, but it’d still be nice if I did!).
Based on my shy tendencies, you’d think that I’d only want to read about shy protagonists as well, right? I mean, they’re the ones I can relate with – sure, I might put up with an outgoing protagonist if I’m interested in the story enough, but it’s shy protagonists all the way, right?
I mean, I do like shy protagonists, but I’m definitely an introvert who likes reading about extroverts. There are so many different reasons this works for me, though.
One: I’m Less Critical of Them
When I read about introverted characters, I know what it’s like to be an introvert, so I’m much more likely to be critical of them. Oh, there’s no way a shy girl would be able to do that without fear of throwing up or fainting or something; he’s not shy, he’s simply quiet and waiting for someone else to lightly nudge him into the spotlight!; no one in this book is shy, they simply say they are in an attempt to connect with any shy book readers! There are plenty of things I can harp about when reading about these kinds of characters simply because I know them so well in real life, whether it’s me or some of my friends.
With extroverted characters, I don’t put so much pressure on the characters because they’re so different from me personality-wise that I don’t know what to expect and quite how they should act. I’m excited to read about them because they’re new and different!
See, I can let them say things like this without freaking out! *freaks out internally instead*
Two: They Can Get into Very Interesting Predicaments
Don’t get me wrong, shy people can get into some pretty unusual situations that make for entertaining books, but extroverted people get into different adventures, and it’s nice to read about many different adventures, isn’t it? If you’re shy, you’re not going to try and go for the cute guy as openly or get the starring role in the musical (unless the whole point of the book is getting the protagonist to do that, I suppose) or become a contestant on a reality show or something. You can have a whole set of different adventures if you have an outgoing protagonist!
Shy people wouldn’t be on The Real World, let alone with that hair!
Three: Outgoing People Can Be Inspiring!
It can be hard to imagine myself without picturing a shy version, but it’s just as possible as anything else, I suppose. If I limit myself to just reading about and watching characters who are shy, timid people who rarely speak up even when they really care about something, then there’s less chance that I’ll change. Sure, it’s still possible, but sometimes seeing outgoing people doing the things you secretly want to do can be really inspiring!
Since I’m not in high school anymore, I can’t suddenly join the school play or something like that, but there are still many ways I can try to get out there more. I’m not comfortable with it right now, but the more I read about characters kicking off their shyness or never being shy in the first place, the more I want to change! I just need to keep reading about them and trying to emulate them just the tiniest bit!
I aspire to someday play kickball in beautiful heels. But I suppose being more outgoing is a nice second place.
Where can you find some of these kickass and confident protagonists, you ask? Well, you came to the right place!
Lainey from The Art of Lainey is the inspiration for this post – she’s popular and confident and seems like the type of protagonist I wouldn’t like (she spray tans and loves soccer – I’m more of a volleyball/basketball/softball girl) but I thought she was awesome!
The girls in Smart Girls Get What They Want aren’t too outgoing at the beginning of the book, but they set out to change things and to go for what they want, even if it involves scary things like running for class president or trying out for the school musical. This book made me want to go back to high school just so I could form a similar pact with some of my equally shy friends and rely on some of my more-outgoing friends if we need help!
Devan from The Reece Malcolm List also isn’t totally outgoing, but she does love acting and when she’s on the stage, she has all the confidence in the world. She knows she’s good at singing, not in a way that she seems narcissistic or anything, but in a good self-confidence way. I think she’s a great model that shows you can be confident without being obnoxious about it. And then there are plenty of other confident secondary characters as well since she attends a performing arts school, so there are other people to look for!
Ruby Oliver from Ruby Oliver Quartet isn’t the most popular girl, but she’s pretty confident with boys, even when they’re confusing her (because they can be quite confusing – but I suppose girls can be confusing as well, so it’s pretty equal), and she learns to stand up for herself throughout the books. She’s often gossiped about, but she learns to ignore that and be herself, no matter how much people might not always like that.
And finally, to switch things up a bit, here’s a protagonist from a paranormal book: Maya from The Gathering and the rest of the Darkness Rising trilogy. Maya goes to a very small school with many people she’s known practically her whole life, so that might play a part in her confident personality, but in general she seems pretty outgoing and happy and carefree. She’s had different flings with “summer boys” but nothing serious, which can seem a bit rare in YA books, especially paranormal books. She’s very different from the protagonist in companion trilogy, Darkest Powers, who has a stutter (especially when she’s nervous or stressed, which can happen a lot when you’re a necromancer), so it’s great seeing a variety of protagonists in the same universe.
These are just five of the many amazing and confident protagonists out there, and there are plenty of protagonists who start out as shy girls and boys and then grow over the course of their stories. I’d love to read about them all, but for now I’ll settle for rereading these amazing books and hoping that I stumble upon plenty of new ones as well!
The GIFs are from here.