Being a very shy and introverted person, it was expected that I had trouble interacting with people, resulting being very bad at the socializing skills. That’s why one of my biggest fears has always been to interact with people successfully.
The first time I faced my fear.
School and high school were pretty bad in terms of developing these socializing skills. Once you start being a certain way it’s very difficult to change form one day to the other, or from one school year to the next. So I was looking forward to start college to have a fresh start. New people, new life, new attitude. I wanted to put into practice being nice, talking to people, and making friends.
However, all my happiness went away on the first day of class, when I met my own particular nemesis from high school, one of the guys that used to make fun of me and my nervousness when I had to articulate a whole sentence in public.
For him I was “the mute”. And all I had wanted was to leave “the mute” times behind. Then, I felt that all the strength I had been collecting for that beginning in college just crumbled at my feet. I was sure he was gonna talk about me to the other classmates, and hence behaving differently from my usual shyness seemed then impossible.
The first semester was quite solitary, and frustrating again. I didn’t find the courage to talk to anybody.
And then the Christmas holidays arrived, and a class dinner was organized. I knew the place and the time but I hadn’t talked to anybody during the 3 months. I was like a ghost. How was I gonna make an appearance?
I debated for weeks, and couldn’t sleep. I was always picturing the worst case scenario: Entering the place with all the people staring at me in silence.
The evening came. I still didn’t know what to do. I was expecting stares and silence when I appeared, but I still knew that I had to do it if I wanted something to change. That was the opportunity. I was shit scared when I was walking towards the restaurant. But, then I arrived and yes, it wasn’t easy—the groups were already made and some environments are friendly than others, and lets say that my hometown is not the most open and welcoming and easy to make friends, it goes by connections, you don’t talk to strangers.
Anyway, the result? I met my friend, one that has become one of my best, and I had fun! The situation didn’t change that much but I had a couple of people I talked to. I made a couple of friends.
But the best outcome of all, was how I felt about myself. I felt proud of myself and somehow I got addicted to that feeling.
Since then, I recognize very well that when something scares me it’s something I must do. So I do it. Because I can’t bear the feeling of disappointing myself.
- I was scared to go to England to work. It was my first job and the first time I left the country. I was scared to accept the offer, that’s why I accepted.
- I was scared to apply for that job with a high school in France, in case I was accepted and had to move there, and face a teenagers class. So I applied. I got the job. I moved there and I faced the class full of teenagers. And that was the one of the highlights in my life and the beginning of my teaching career.
- I was afraid of leaving my boyfriend in France and pursue my teaching career in Spain, because I couldn’t find any teaching jobs in France. So, I left France and improved my teaching experience while the relationship with my boyfriend went bust.
- I was petrified of leaving my comfortable teaching job in Spain and follow love. So, I followed love and had the time of my life.
- I was afraid of leaving a stable paycheck for being self-employed. Few months of reflection were enough to find the courage to leave that job and start scheming the next move towards being self-employed and free of the ties that living in a fixed place with a fixed job implied.
- I was scared to start traveling and lose a place to call home, so I booked a flight.
Now, do I have any fears? Yes, one and constant. I am afraid of not being strong enough to keep up with the way of life I want to have, so I keep moving out of my comfort zone because I know that even if is exhausting sometimes, the rewards are so satisfying that there is no chance for me to stop anymore.
Overcoming fear is so addictive!
Maria is a girl after my own heart—constantly looking inward, she’s relentless in her quest to better understand the life that surrounds her, including her own. Although she claims to fear much, I’ve rarely seen her give in to it, which is constant motivation for me, and I’m sure others as well. You can find Her Fearlessness on Twitter @DianadeBelflor, or if you’d like brush up on your Spanish, she’s a great teacher.
© 2012, FearLess Jenn. All rights reserved.