Yes, she can. A bit of a strange title you might think? You’ll soon see why.
I’m currently living in Barcelona and within two weeks of being here I found the most fun job I could have imagined. I’m currently working as a promotor in different hostels, gathering people together and leading them to a bar and later on to a club. Almost every night I meet a lot of different people from all over the world, engage in great conversations with them and make sure everybody is having a good time. While practicing my Spanish whenever I get the chance.
Why exactly is that so surprising?
So, here’s the thing. Growing up I always was a really shy and quiet kid and that didn’t change much when I entered high school. There I was the shiest little girl you could imagine. I would be so occupied what people would think about me before the conversation even started, I was afraid to say the wrong thing and offend people – so, needless to say, I wasn’t much of a talker. I was always a really good listener and left the talking more or less to the others. People came to me whenever they needed someone to listen to their problems from a really early age on. And I listened carefully, that’s what I could do best. I only talked when my opinion was asked, I would never express my beliefs just for being heard. Of course, I had friends among whom I acted differently, but interacting with new people I was silent like a fish. You wouldn’t get much out of me.
I observed situations but stood out of them, I watched from the far, but secretly wished to be part of it. I was unhappy with my situation, but didn’t know how to change it. I wanted to participate, I wanted to be cool, but it didn’t seem to work out for me. People were nice to me though – it was rare that someone would be mean to me. However, I was just too silent and could never express my opinion – or if I dared to I talked so quietly nobody would listen.
Seems a little sad, doesn’t it? At that time it certainly was.
When I think about all the times in high school I just went to the toilet and hid there during the break I feel the urge to laugh. It just seems so far away to me now, nothing I would do anymore. I’d like to go back to my younger self and tell her everything’s going to be alright in the future. She did figure it out in the end.
What I am trying to say is there is hope for everyone. No matter how shy you might be, you can always overcome it. I, for example, just forced myself into situations I felt really uncomfortable in. I forced myself to join a group and participate in their conversation – well, at first it was more a standing there and letting people talk. The most important thing was that I even dared to get up and to stand next to them and didn’t stay glued in my chair in class. That wouldn’t lead me anywhere. So, slowly but surely it began to work. I started to talk a little more, I started to make some new friends, while in the past I was just sticking to the people I already knew.
Another thing that helped me along my journey of becoming more open and talkative was engaging in the right jobs. Jobs that forced me to talk to people, jobs where I simply couldn’t hide behind a computer and disappear into the screen. The first one being catering. Even though I didn’t have to talk to the customers that much, the waiting – business is really social and you interact with your colleagues a lot. Even though I didn’t like waiting that’s when I became more and more sociable.
My next job relied even more on having good people-skills: door-to-door promotion in Germany. There you really have to swallow up your shyness and just jump all in – otherwise you won’t last long. I wasn’t really shy anymore at this time, but talking to probably a hundred people or more a day helped me to overcome the tiny little bit that was still left in me. People would be unfriendly a lot of times, so I had to learn how to deal with rudeness and how not to take people’s moods personally – a thing I always did in the past. I always thought, someone who wasn’t nice to me didn’t like me or I just did something wrong to them. Now I finally realized everybody can have a bad day once in a while and I am for sure not accountable for people’s moods.
So, forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations, whether it might be in school, at a social event or in a job – that’s certainly a tactic that helps you to grow a lot personally. Soon you’ll look back and wonder about the scared little self you were a few years ago. Still, the journey will never be completed. You can always learn, you can always challenge yourself to try out new things.
The next few weeks I am going to share more about my progress and explain what helped me along my journey a bit further. Travelling alone, for example. Being all on your own, just relying on yourself. Therefore you really need to be confident enough and believe in yourself that you can make it – but that will be further explained in the next posts. So stay tuned! There’s still a lot more to come.