I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for a while now. Here’s a secret few know about me: up until a few years ago I seriously struggled with communicating and engaging with people in big group settings.
I even found one-on-one conversations with certain people to be very difficult sometimes. Here’s what I came to a revelation of about 5 years ago:
I’m only the most awkward person in the room if I think I’m the most awkward person in the room. Groundbreaking realization, I know!
But seriously, one day I woke up and decided that it was incredibly selfish of me to be so self-conscious. I was missing out on potential friendships and relationships when I didn’t put myself out there. And everyone around me was missing out on my gifts, talents, and unique personality when I didn’t open up and let others in.
I’ve thought a lot about why I personally struggled with connecting with people and there are a lot of valid reasons. I was homeschooled until 6th grade. I was hurt a lot by friends through middle school and high school. I moved a few times and relationships naturally evolve after a move. I got married young (19 years old) and already had a best friend. I really don’t communicate the way most people do. Lots and lots of reasons, but none excused me from my reclusive and standoffish behavior.
Here’s what I chose to do. In every setting I found myself in, I forced myself to pretend like I was really comfortable and really confident. Guess what?! It worked! After a few months it became easier and more natural. I also took a really wise woman’s advice. One time she told me, “all you have to do is talk to one person and treat them like they’re the most important person in the room.” Once I did that I actually found communicating to be so rewarding and fruitful.
I think this was so hard for me for so long because it has to do with vulnerability. Talking with other people forces me to put my emotions, opinions, thoughts, and insecurities out there. Once they’re out there I have no control over what happens. This state is really uncomfortable for someone like me who appreciates life most when it’s compartmentalized and manageable. But life isn’t meant to be like that. It’s meant to be full, fun, and a little messy sometimes!
I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of communication or that I feel 100% confident around people all the time. What I can say is that it feels really amazing to look back and see growth. I really had to change the way I thought about myself and about those around me in order for tangible, external change to occur. It’s not always easy to change the way we think, but in the end it’s so worth it!
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind!