I haven't done a Roadblocks to happiness post in awhile. These posts often end up on the back burner because they are hard to write and even harder to share. They are also incredibly time consuming because they require a lot more self reflection than my usual posts. But that's the whole point of this exercise, right? Reflecting on the things that make me unhappy, and figuring out how to change them in order to be a happier, more relaxed, and fulfilled person.
Today I'm going to focus on the second item on the list of 30 Things to Stop Doing Now
that I shared in my first Roadblocks post, that spoke to me:
5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
When I first read the "30 list" I thought this statement didn't apply to me, unlike most of the statements on the list. But then one of my coworkers said something to me a couple of months ago that really hit me. During a slow day at work we were both talking about our first couple of months on the unit when she said "I can't get over how different you are now compared to when you first started here. It's like you are a totally different person." I was shocked! Hadn't I always been me from day one? But as we talked more I realized what she meant and also realized what other people must think about me when they first meet me.
You see, when I don't know people well, am in a new situation, or feel intimidated, I become painfully shy. I am so shy that I almost come off as standoffish and stuck up. But as time goes on, and I get more comfortable with people or a particular person, I get much more outgoing and talkative. As I get even more comfortable with people, like I am now with my coworkers after 3 year at this job or with my closest friends, I DO NOT shut up. I get so outgoing that I talk non stop, rarely think before I speak, share everything on my mind, and have a blast with the people I'm around.
The problem is, there are very few people who I feel like I act like my true goofy and loud self around. And with those people it often takes months or even years for me to get to that point. As a result, I fear that many people are turned off by me right away, because who really wants to invest the time in getting to know a quiet and often standoffish girl?!? I also fear that my shyness prohibits me from meeting amazing new people who would fit perfectly in the inner circle of people I feel I can be myself around.
I could wish all day long that I could be more outgoing with new people and in new situations but that would not change a thing. What I really need to do is figure out why I am so shy with new people in order to change my behavior. I think it really boils down to the fact that I'm a perfectionist. I absolutely hate to make mistakes. Most of all, I hate to make mistakes with people. I'm terrified of them judging me. So I think instead of taking the risk of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing, I often stand back and don't talk at all. Somehow I have the erroneous idea that people will judge me and not like me if I don't say or do the perfect thing. Or, more importantly, I'm scared of saying the imperfect thing. But in reality, these people are probably judging me more for not being friendly and instead appearing shy and standoffish.
I really want to work on this and work on being more outgoing with newish people and thus, be more of myself around these people. Because I really am most myself around VABeau, our families, and our close friends. And I think (at least I hope) all of those people enjoy me and like me for who I am (even if she is loud, awkward, sometimes inappropriate, judgmental at times, goofy, and beyond talkative after a glass of wine). So it's time that I show the rest of the world that side, the real side, of this girl. I just need to relax, not agonize over everything I'm going to say, and stop expecting perfection. My new mantra when meeting new people or in a new situation should no longer be sit back and be as quiet as possible. Instead it is to not take myself so seriously, put aside my ridiculous expectations for conversations, enjoy the moment and the conversation while it's happening, and just have fun and enjoy the people around me. If only this mantra were an easy one to follow...
It doesn't end there. I also want to leave these new encounters/conversations and not replay what I said, how they reacted, etc. over and over again. I no longer want to agonize over how the conversation or encounter went because it's pretty darn exhausting to pick apart every conversation to look for my flaws. Instead I want to have the outlook that if a particular person or people liked me and I liked them-that's fantastic!
If not-then there will always be other new people and situations in the future and I never know how they will go or who I will meet until I try!
This is a pretty great mantra too:
Anyone else struggle with being their true self? Any other shy people out there? What's your mantra for social situations?