The truth is I very nearly crap my pants before going to an event where I do not know anyone or where I don't have a close friend with me to give me moral support and courage.
Even something as simple a going into my kid's school can send me into a tail spin before I leave home, which seems silly to me as I know people there. A kids party where I don't know the parents or the first training session for a new team sport can send me into a frenzy, and heaven forbid a function that I desperately want to go to but know I will not know anyone there.
People who know me or have met me in real life may be shaking their heads about now and thinking "What is she on?" because on the outside I know I probably do appear semi confident, but trust me it is not something that comes easily to me. I laugh loud which always helps to camouflage the scared little girl inside and I also know if I can just get through the initial introductions, if I can just muster up enough courage to make that first move and put myself out there, it usually turns out ok and the payoff is way bigger than the effort it took.
I guess I am following the old school train of thinking if I can fake it for a little while, eventually I'll make it.
Don't get me wrong, I know for many it is not easy to even fake it. If I don't know you and I am meeting you for the first time I may come across all friendly and bubbly, but inside my head I am thinking "Please like me Please please like me".
I do have a few little tricks I keep up my sleeve to help me when I find myself in a situation where I don't know anyone or feel uncomfortable in a new crowd of faces. I'll share them with you for what their worth, who knows, they may just help you out sometime if you are shy like me.
1. Plaster a big smile on your face.
OK perhaps not a good idea if you are attending a funeral , but generally speaking, a smile makes you more approachable and its like a little taxi sign for others who may be feeling equally as uncomfortable, and that sign says "Hey it's OK I don't bite and I am totally NOT a snooty cow." (very handy to know)
A smile breaks the ice and can warm a room and is really not hard to do.
Generally when you smile at someone, they smile back. I often test this theory when I am out and about. I'm sure alot of people are probably smiling back at me all the while thinking who is this loony? But the point is they generally do smile back. And the ones who don't? Well, you could do what I do and poke my tongue out at them, the shock normally gets them smiling or they just turn away and avoid you and if it is the latter, well their loss I say!
2. Just try and suck it up and make that first move.
It's the hardest step to make but it could turn out to be the best thing you ever do for yourself. You are also potentially taking the load of someone else who is as nervous as you but just can't find it in themselves at that time to make the first move.
Your kid's school can be particularly scary for shy people, it was for me. But some of my best friends today are people who I did not know at all when I approached them, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and made that first move.
Once I just called this woman out of the blue after I got her number from the class list and I laughingly said, "Hey you don't know me from a bar of soap but do you want to meet up and let our kids have a play?" Thankfully she accepted the invite and we have been very fabulous friends ever since and our kids are best friends to this day.
Another time, 3 years ago when my middle son was in kindy, I wrote a note to another mum asking if she wanted to get together for a playdate. I waited with baited breathe for a reply, and when she accepted I was super excited, only to feel rejected and flat when she later cancelled on me. We laugh about it today as she is now one of my very best friends, our kids are like brothers and our families are going away together next month - she cancelled because SHE was nervous. See! There are way more of us unconfident ones than the other type.
3. Remember they are most likely as nervous as you!
When you walk into a new crowd, just imagine that everyone is just as nervous as you (chances are the majority are) and think about what would be the best thing someone could do for YOU to make you feel less nervous, then do THAT same thing for someone else. It may be picking someone standing alone and just rocking on up to them and saying hi or it could just be a case of striking up a conversation with the person standing next to you. 99% of the time they will welcome your approach with open arms, the other 1%?? Pffffft who needs them, nothing lost nothing gained!
4. Be yourself
Don't try and pretend to be someone you are not just to fit into a particular group or crowd. If you are approaching a group of mums at school who are in their gym clothes and you try to pretend you too are a gymmy and like me, clearly you're not, don't do it! You could end up with a severe injury to your body and your ego, just pick the coffee mums instead and invite the gymmys for a post workout cappuccino.
5. Let your imagination go for it.
If you have to attend a work meeting, conference or worse still make a speech or a presentation, just relax and imagine your crowd in their undies. Its an old trick, but it really does work. And remember they are just like you, no more superior, we all have to sit on the toilet to poop and we all have our own fears. The toilet thing is a little random I know, but it does kind of knock the superiority thing on the head when you imagine the person you are intimidated by sitting on the loo with their undies around their ankles. Try it now..... imagine someone you are intimidated by for (whatever reason) sitting on the dunny........ seeeeeee it works doesn't it! They are not so scary when you are imagining them waddling to the cupboard with their undies down cause they have run out of toilet paper.
So there you have it, some tips from a confident faker. If I happen to come up to you and attempt the small talk, please be kind to me as I am probably close to pooping my pants making that first move.
Are you shy as well? Do you have any tips or tricks to overcome your shyness?
Linking Up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT
Linking Up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT