Stretch it to become it!Oct 21, 2022
Who’s in your back room?
When it comes to social situations, you wouldn’t exactly describe my husband as a gregarious sort. As a teen and young adult, he struggled with social anxiety. A fear of being judged often stopped him from stepping outside of his comfort zone and taking social risks with new people.
So you can imagine my shock when he came home very late one night and told me he’d been the life and soul of the party at a neighbourhood wedding. We didn’t know anyone who was getting married that weekend. So how did he end up in the middle of it all? And what had happened to the man I thought I’d married?
Turns out, he was becoming more of who he already was.
Let me back up a bit. We live in a tiny rural village. It’s quiet at night, except for light traffic and the sound of animals shuffling and snuffling. We’re relatively new to the village and we don’t know everyone yet.
Well, on this particular night, loud music has been flooding the village just as we are heading to bed. Being a light sleeper, I dread the thought of being kept awake by raucous partying and then feeling exhausted in the morning. My husband offers to check out what’s going on. So off he goes on his bike.
He returns much later with an unusual story. In one of the larger houses in the village, people were celebrating a wedding. Even though he didn’t know anyone, he’d waltzed right into the thick of it and gotten people up on the dance floor. He’d even danced with the bride! 😲
I am baffled and very curious. As many of you know, I am not a fan of faking it until you make it. Is this what he did? Or was it something else?
He then tells me that when he was quite young, he realised that he could pretend to be an outgoing person in social situations. However he often felt yucky afterwards. So he allowed one of his quieter selves to take the lead.
At the same time, he was a charismatic performer in music bands and loved connecting with people from the stage.
Ah yes, each one of us is a community of selves!
And we get to decide which one shows up when, and takes the lead!
By inviting his performer self to show up and take small risks in social situations, his confidence had gradually flowered over time. And he became more of himself. He stretched it until he became it!
That’s how he was able to transfer his love of connecting people from the stage into a more intimate wedding setting. In the process, he brought some vibrant energy to a struggling dance floor.
Faking it means being somebody you are not. Stretching it means becoming someone you want to be or maybe someone you already are.
As I tell my clients, most of whom would describe themselves as introverts, the game of pretending may temporarily lift the anxiety of meeting new people, but it often creates the new fear of being found out! Imposter syndrome strikes. That’s the high price of faking it.
However, when you draw on a self that hides out in the back room of your lived experience or shows up only occasionally, the results are entirely different. You steadily grow your confidence based on who you really are and want to become.
Which communicative self is in your back room, waiting to emerge?
Chances are, there’s a free and easy self who shows up in certain contexts. What would it take to let that self stretch into other contexts in your life?
And while you are contemplating that question, check out our much-loved 5-part YouTube mini-series on ‘how to talk to anyone and make new friends’. It’s packed with tips and little ways to grow your social confidence bit by bit.
If you have any questions, drop us a quick voice note or message via WhatsApp.
Happy stretching and connecting!
Thea and Team WWV