We watched Rhod Gilbert’s Stand up to Shyness last week and it’s been on my mind ever since. I suffer with shyness…
Rhod is probably one of my favourite comedians. I found it hard to believe that he suffered with social anxiety and shyness. A man who stands on his own, on stage in front of huge audiences making them laugh. He can barely go into a cafe on his own, order a coffee and sit to drink it.
I’m happy to go into a cafe on my own – if I have a day of meetings with a gap in the schedule then grabbing some tea (and maybe a cheeky cake) doesn’t phase me. Equally when I was in my old job, I travelled all over Europe on my own and would eat in the hotel restaurants. Admittedly I found this part far from comfortable but you’ve got to eat (& when you get sent to places where people hardly speak any English it doesn’t leave a lot of options!)
I’ve recently signed up to a business networking event that meets a few times a week. It’s possibly the scariest thing I’ve done. I can feel myself feeling anxious. I feel sick, I get tongue tied and want to get out of there as soon as possible. Walking into a room full of strangers, making conversation with everyone and then trying to set up 1-1 meetings. The worst part is probably standing up for 40 seconds to introduce myself and what my company does. My mind goes blank and I can’t even think what I do!
How do the two things differ? I guess being in a cafe or restaurant I’m still in my own safe world. I find a table in the corner, set up ‘shop’. Get my phone and laptop out or my notebook so that I’ve got something to concentrate on. I hardly take any notice of what’s going on around me.
I realise there are people that have shyness so bad that they don’t even want to leave the house and I’m lucky my shyness doesn’t affect me in this. When I’m in groups of people that I know very well, like my family or my close circle of friends, I’m completely fine and ‘myself’. It takes me a long time to feel like I can relax and be myself with groups of people I don’t know well.
JB on the other hand is a social butterfly, can talk to anyone about anything and is super confident.
I’m sure that by pushing myself out of my comfort zone, the networking meetings won’t be as scary. The more I stand up for 40 seconds and introduce myself, the easier it will be and I’ll become more confident in introducing myself. I guess time will tell when I go to a conference on my own in March!