Okay, maybe this is too deep for a quick blog entry, but I feel like I need to share it. Not too long ago, I felt like I would rather melt into the Earth than talk to someone that I didn't know (and a lot of the time, I felt like that with the people I did know as well!) Even just the thought of making small talk, having people looking at me, and socializing in general made me feel anxious and humiliated. It's hard to understand if you're not someone who suffers from this kind of social anxiety.
But recently, and I really don't know what brought it on, I decided to make eye contact with people. I went 35+ years making as little eye contact as possible with people because it made me so uncomfortable. But I decided I was going to try, and so I did. I looked people right in their eyes and I smiled at them. People I passed on the street, people at the store, people at the kids' schools, people at the hospital where I am finishing up my clinical studies.
My world is so much different now. I get better service at stores and restaurants - that was the first thing I noticed. The second thing I noticed was that it became easy to add a greeting to the eyes and smile, and that the more I did it, the easier and more natural it became. Third, I just plain feel more friendly, more approachable, and more confident. Finally, I realized that it's called eye contact for a reason - sometimes when I look someone in the eyes, I actually see the connection that is being made. It's a subtle change in expression, a very brief glimpse into each other that makes a person feel like equals, and a drop in my bucket of happiness for the day. Who knew? I actually look forward to seeing people these days. I have the ability to talk to people now without feeling like I'm going to die of embarrassment, and I am getting better at navigating conversations, too.
Today, I'm going to a meeting at the college where I will be asked to give a short presentation on the fly to a room full of people I've never met, or met only once or twice before. I will be nervous, yes. I will probably even tremble! But I won't be debilitated. It doesn't feel like it's looming in front of me, and I won't dissect everything I said for days afterward, worrying over the parts I might have messed up.
Set in My Ways, or So I Thought
2 weeks ago