New social situations always make me feel like the first day of school. That excited yet nervous and all the while totally unsure of yourself feeling. It never fails that when I have to be in a new place around new people I default to an insecure 12 year old girl.
This week my work has sent me off to a course. The class is offered by my company to its employees and sales reps as a way of increasing awareness of our specific product lines. This isn’t a business sales pitch so I won’t go into those products but I will give a few more details on the course logistics. It started today (Tuesday) and finishes at noon on Friday…which when I thought it through is strategically clever. People can use Monday as a travel day, as well as Friday afternoon, and therefore don’t lose any weekends. I however am staying over the weekend because the class location is in a suburb of San Francisco. San Fran baby!
Last night, while laying out my clothes and packing my lunch, I confessed how nervous I was to my roommate KG, who came along to mooch off my free hotel room (check out the fun she had today here). My nerves had nothing to do with lack of knowledge or skill; I know that I’m coming into the course well-prepared and will probably be the participant who is more recently out of school (and should logically be most used to a learning atmosphere). I also don’t normally suffer from lack of confidence. I am quite conformable with who I am and have never been one to change for anyone. So why was I looking at today with so much stressful anticipation?
I have a very odd personality type which sits on the line between extro & introversion. I like attention, yet I am perfectly happy to spend time alone. This may sound like a perfect situation, but it is accompanied by a heaping dose of socially awkward. Being an engineer this is almost expected, which just puts more pressure on when you know that everyone else attending the class will be Salespeople. Isn’t it their job to be personable and chatty?
So last night in an attempt to calm my social anxiety I prepared like any preteen would for her first day of school. I analyzed each of my wardrobe choices and their viability as a “first day” option. Would I look too dressy if people showed up in jeans? Would I look too casual if everyone else was in suits? Was it stylish enough that the cool girls would think I was cool too?
Then there was the question of lunch. The course details were fuzzy when it came to how we would spend our midday meal. KG & I had walked to the grocery store for room snacks, etc so I did have the ability to make something. But what if no one else had one and everyone else went out to eat without me? It would obviously be the most important bonding moment of the whole week. Plus how lame would I look having packed a lunch? Would they all assume my mommy had made it for me? But then what if everyone else had a lunch and I hadn’t brought one? What would I miss while I went out to get something? Or would I starve because I was feeling too awkward to leave?
(And that’s all without even getting into the stresses that come with actually being in a conversation!)
In the morning I dressed in my decided outfit…then made sure to get KG’s approval. She said it was very ‘business-casual’ and very cute. Ok, I can calm down about that. But then I needed to internally debate the merits of hair up versus hair down. Why did I care? It’s not like I think about these things on an everyday basis. People at work are lucky if I have fully gotten ready in the morning. So why was I putting my lunch in my bag only to be pulled out if other people did too? Why was I suddenly feeling like I was in middle school and unconvinced I’d make any new friends?
It turned out that they provided lunch. And that level of dress fit in perfectly with everyone else. I immediately made some friends, as I really don’t have an issue talking to people. I even had people to eat lunch with. I stressed about everything for nothing. Even about the fact that I’d changed for supper…and so had mostly everyone else, because that’s the logical thing to do…and not something you should worry about.
I’m not really sure what you should be taking home from this post. I’m not exactly offering advice, or even a resolution in my own life. I do however know what I am taking from all of this: I am not as social awkward as I think and I don’t ever want to be 12 years old again.
Love & Luck,