Is it normal to still be painfully shy at 27? I have a very few friends. At work, many of my colleagues have very little to do with me, and I tend to keep to myself a lot, as I get really nervous when I’m around too many of them at once. I avoid meetings and social gatherings in general since I sometimes just don’t know how to make small talk. I know that I need to get out and interact with people, but I don’t know how/where to start. Please help!

Yes, shyness is a common personality trait and is normal, no matter what age. It’s also very normal to want to have one or two close friends, or to have deeper conversation with one person rather than making small talk with acquaintances. I can understand how difficult it can feel when the dread and fear set in when approaching situations that create worry and nervousness. If the worry is significantly interfering with your social, work, and other important areas, then it may be helpful to find a licensed mental health professional to rule out Social Anxiety Disorder and to help with increasing your relaxation response in social situations.

I am a 31-year-old male. I can’t trust anyone. Due to many experiences through my life I don’t see how anyone can be trusted. But like the rest of humanity I will always have the desire to want to be close to someone, but with not being able to trust anyone I don’t see how that will ever be possible. How can one learn to trust without going through the hurt all over again?

The first step in learning to trust again is to understand that it is innate in all of us to trust and attach to other people. Despite being hurt in relationships previously, I believe this need stays around. However, it puts us in that place of wanting to trust people but feeling afraid to make it happen. I think we have to be willing to put ourselves at risk to move forward. A difficult reality to face is that we might get hurt again. However, sometimes, that is the consequence of attachment. For many of us, we have to learn that, although the pain is great when we are hurt, it won’t kill us. It will be difficult, but we won’t die. We really have to believe we will survive a relationship ending and come out okay in the end. This can take time, and one certainly has to grieve and begin to move through the loss before doing so. Once you achieve this, you’re ready to go on to the next step.