I was always the shy girl. I still am. Back in high school people used to wonder if “that girl” could even talk. I always felt uncomfortable at parties, though I so desperately wanted to go to them and fit in. I hated public speaking and big groups make me want disappear into the wall.
On the other hand, I’m a singer, a blogger, and a YouTuber. All the things that require being in the spotlight and putting yourself out there in front of people. So how does that work? Why would I want to put myself in a position that every fibre of my natural being feels uncomfortable in? When I’m on stage, my throats closes up and I feel like I can’t breathe. One time I was so stage fraught that I forgot the lyrics to my song, froze, and hurried off the stage only to burst into tears in the car later. I didn’t step anywhere near a stage for a couple years after that.
But then I realized that in my heart, blogging, speaking on camera, performing, is something I really want to do–way more than I am scared of it. And if you want something badly enough, you’ll do anything to get it. I’m not Beyoncé and confidence is something I’m still working on everyday. Over the years though, I’ve made massive progress I’m super proud of.
So for anyone who ever feels like crawling in a hole when the spotlights on you or your fear of failing/humiliation/rejection/judgement/etc. is stopping you from doing something you really want to do, here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up over time to help you feel and look like the fearless power woman you really are:
1. Realize you are not your ego.
It’s not you–it’s your ego that fears rejection and judgement. I kind of picture the ego as an evil gremlin type character that whispers self-sabotaging thoughts in your head telling you to avoid putting up your hand in class (even though you know the answer) or to not talk to that cutie over there because they’ll probably think you’re really weird for even going up to them. It’s all bullshit and once you realize that that voice is not your voice and that you do have the power to control it and shut it up…well amazing things can happen.
2. Eye contact is everything.
You might be quivering inside but as long as you hold your gaze strong and clear, people will not only listen and respect you, but they’ll also believe that you know what you’re talking about. Whether you’re trying to nail that job in an interview or make a good impression on someone, use this trick to all ends (I mean don’t stare someone down till they feel uncomfortable but you know what I mean). I kid you not, a manager once told me I had been hired in a group interview over 4 other perfectly qualified candidates because I held great eye contact.
3. Fix your body language.
Nothing says insecure more than standing hunched over with your arms crossed and head down. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, slightly raise your chin, and breathe deeply. Keep your arms and palms open and relaxed. If you focus on these little things, people instantly will have a better impression of you, trust you, and like you without knowing exactly why. Fake it till you make is a real thing! Remember that if you look comfortable, other people around you will feel comfortable too which will make you feel comfortable for real!
Do social situations make you shrivel up? Does small talk make you feel anxious? Next time you find yourself in conversation with a stranger, you can instantly alleviate some of that pressure by switching the focus to them. Have some topics prepared in your back pocket and ask questions. Most people love talking about themselves anyway. You’ll make them feel special while minimizing the amount of talking you have to do yourself! Win win.
5. Force yourself to go to networking events.
Even if you’re not looking for a job, going to networking events is one of the best things I have done this year. Prepare some questions from tip number 4 and take yourself to the next networking event happening in your city (try meetup.com or a simple google search). I don’t recommend going with a friend just because you’ll end up sticking to them like glue and minimizing your opportunity to meet and talk to other people. What’s great about these types of events versus other types of events or parties is that people already are in the mindset of meeting other people so you won’t even have to do too much work in approaching people yourself. They’ll just come to you and BAM–endless opportunity to practice talking to people!
6. Stop hiding behind your phone.
Firstly, stop texting and start calling your friends. Calling people or leaving a voice mail used to give me slight anxiety but the more you do it, the better you feel about talking to people. Plus, verbal communication is always more meaningful than texting so your existing relationships will only grow stronger. Secondly, next time you’re at a social event, restaurant or party, put your phone away and focus on what’s happening live in front of you. If you don’t have a screen in front of you, you instantly become more approachable and will probably have a better time!
7. Don’t let people intimidate you.
I know, easier said than done. But once you remember that every one is just a human too, the barrier you put between yourself and others starts to fade. I often feel intimidated by loud and outgoing people because they appear to be so outwardly confident. Sometimes loudness is actually a coverup or overcompensation for insecurity and low self-esteem too though.
8. Learn to work with your introvertness .
According to studies led by psychologist, Hans Eysenck, introverts tend to process greater amounts of information in any given situation. That’s why you usually feel overwhelmed and overloaded in an environment with a lot of stimulation like a party or loud restaurant. Personally I have major FOMO, yet being social totally exhausts me. To deal, I always take some time to prepare myself before going out to an event. Next time you go out or know you’ll be in an active environment, take an hour to yourself to chill quietly, listen to music or meditate to replenish your energy. If I’m out and I start to feel tired, I’ll step outside for a few minutes every so often for a short break. Make sure you get enough sleep and drink lots of water too. You got this girl!