Confidence: Just Do It

14 Jul

I am the girl who walks up to you and introduces herself with an exuberant yet soft smile.

 I am the girl who contributes to conversation with vivacity and ease.

I am the girl who talks to you like we have been friends forever.

I am the girl who sits down at your table, even though we have never met.

I am the girl who asks why you chose to go to Podiatry school and how you became so interested in fixing feet.

I am the girl who insists that the chair next to hers was made for you.

I am the girl who holds herself with impeccable posture; shoulders relaxed and eyes ever sparkling,

Looking from the outside, you wouldn’t guess that, that girl is cripplingly shy.

Some people, like myself, are born inherently shy. The idea of taking the initiative to join a game, activity or conversation is terrifying and unrealistic. Who would want to talk to me? They seem to be having so much fun; I might spoil it by joining in. They might not like my sense of humor. I might come across as stupid. Such doubts bombard my thoughts, poisoning them with anxiety. Other times I am shy out of sheer laziness. Being interested in others takes genuine thought and consideration. I know I can do it but…I’m just not in the mood.

Either way, whether in the grips of self-doubt or the lull of laziness, shyness never leaves me feeling very good. This past shabbos, I was sitting at a table with four other “young people,” all of whom have known each other for years. Joining their table was as intimidating as plopping myself down between Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and the other Friends for a Central Perk schmooze. But as I have learned over the years, the only thing more uncomfortable than pushing myself outside my comfort zone, is meekly and silently remaining within it.

So I stepped outside.

I was the girl who introduced myself with an exuberant yet soft smile.

I was the girl who contributed to the conversation with vivacity and ease.

I was the girl who joined their table, even though I didn’t know them, and you know what…

It wasn’t awkward. Not for a second.

There were other times in my life that I embraced my outgoing side, but up until this year, I felt it was an act. I felt as though I was fooling people; manipulating their opinions of Coral Cap with my convincing and thespian expertise. I would have my periods of social finesse and my periods of introversion. Yet this year, I decided to step out of the box. I joined a couple of USBGs, made an effort to converse with the people in my shul , made it my business to acquaint myself with co-workers, visited other communities and got to know some of the people there…I made myself just do it. And as time marched on and the experiences wracked up, I discovered an incredible gem. The girl I thought was an act, the girl I assumed was a filmy facade is really a facet of who I am. It’s the part of me I never showed, out of fear of what others might think.  It’s the part of me that reflects the interest, appreciation and love I have for others. It’s the part of me that expresses and feels simchas chaim without hesitations or qualms.  For years, I subserved to my hesitations in fear that others would see me as a fake. But thank G-d, here I am, 20 years old, happy with who I am; willing to push myself even when my inherent shyness tugs silently every now and again.

Don’t worry so much about how other people will react, rather, focus on your actions. Do not be afraid of rejection or negative responses; that is in the hands of others. Focus on that which is in your control– your thoughts, your actions and the way you present yourself to the world. Don’t think of a clever way to step outside The Comfort Zone. Just do it. Put out your hands, shove with full force and let yourself free. Enjoy life, enjoy the people you encounter  and enjoy being yourself.

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5 Responses to “Confidence: Just Do It”

  1. SternGrad July 14, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    I really related to this post. I used to be very, very shy, but over time I changed and I am not shy anymore. I still remember when it used to be so hard to push myself out of my “comfort zone”, as you put it. I learned what you learned- that you just gotta do it. I never thought I would be outgoing, but then one day I realized that I was. And it’s not that either side was fake- it was simply that I changed. Being outgoing or shy was something that I thought people were born with- you were simply born one way or the other and there was nothing you could do to change it. I was shocked when I discovered I wasn’t shy anymore.

  2. Man In the Mask July 14, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Quality advice. I would say that I personally tend to start being far more outgoing once I’ve settled in somewhere and feel like I belong, sometimes a month, sometimes years after I arrive. But I suppose that’s really just failing to do what you say before, waiting until the confidence arrives of its own volition, as opposed to manning up and stepping out of my comfort bubble.

    Is it coincidence that I stumbled on this post in the process of logging in just now?

    • coralcap July 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

      SternGrad- That’s basically what happened to me. I was always a friendly person, but most times I wouldn’t go out of my way to get to know new people. Still, I got annoyed at myself when I stuck to my introverted ways. There was always a part of me that was eager to get to know new people but I shooed away the thought of it, believing it just wasn’t me. It’s taken me years, but B”H I’ve become a lot more true to my friendly nature. I still consider myself an introvert (I use energy to socialize and regenerate it by spending time alone.

      Man In the Mask- I really like that post you included! Epic! The Matrix Mashal continues to inspire! And there’s no such thing as a coincedence 🙂 but I’m guessing you already knew that.

      It usually takes me time to feel I can just be myself. When joining a new chevra, whether it be a workplace, camp, organization, etc, it has taken me weeks or months even to feel like I’m a part of it. I don’t think there’s a need to rush into being that outgoing person. Not everyone has to be that person. There’s a lot to respect about a person who can be a of a gentle nature while still being friendly. It all depends on the individual and how they see themselves best relating to others. I’ve been pushing myself a lot more lately b/c I know that what generally tooks me months, now comes in minutes if I just push myself.

      Funny thing is,people who have known me for years never thought of me as shy. It’s interesting how I percieve myself one way and people haven’t seen that quality in me at all. It makes me want to see myself from someone else’s point of view, just for a day…

  3. aminspiration July 16, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    This completely struck a cord with me, I used to be so shy, never putting myself out of my comfort zone. when i got to high school i decided to make a change, because i didnt like who i was becoming. we had a shabbaton once with Chevi Garfinkle and she made a really powerful statement. there are two types of people at a shabbaton. there are the people that come to the dining room looking around for their “group” of friends and then sit down and then there are people who just sit down and have people come sit around them…
    its all about confidnence

    • coralcap July 18, 2010 at 10:21 am #

      I had Ms. Garfinkel! What an incredible teacher, BH, I’m so glad I had her.

      It amazes me how many people voluntarily on go on shabbatons (i.e. NCSY/Yachad/Aish/etc.)and still stick with their group of friends. Especially when it comes to the national shabbatons…why go if you’re going to stick to your clique?!?! Branch out! Meet new people! I don’t kow, maybe it’s just me. I personally love meeting new people, especially those who are interested in the same cause(s). But yes, being the one engages others takes a certain level of confidence. With time people can build it up, but they have to want it.

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