I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Vegetarian Society, and made it a point to attend every one of its meetings, but I always felt tongue-tied. It was only in South Africa that I got over this shyness, though I never completely overcame it. It was impossible for me to speak without preparation. I hesitated whenever I had to face strange audiences and avoided making a speech whenever I could.
I must say that, beyond
occasionally exposing me to laughter, my shyness has
been no disadvantage whatever. In fact I can see that,
on the contrary, it has been all to my advantage. My
hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now
a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has
formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. A man of
few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he
will measure every word. My shyness has been in reality
my shield. It has allowed me to grow.
It has helped me in my discovery of truth.