“The Shy Girl”: I have always considered myself a fairly shy and soft spoken person. Even as early as elementary school, I can remember my teachers and friend’s parents referring to me as the “shy girl.” Don’t get me wrong, I am and even at that age was, a very social person if I was with the friends that I already had. But if I was thrown into a new situation where I did not know anyone, I would completely shut down. I can remember freaking out every August when the elementary school released what teacher everyone had for the following fall, I did everything in my power to make sure I wasn’t going to be without a friend whether that meant requesting to be with a specific person or actually switching a class so I wouldn’t be alone.
The Changing Point: This mentality of not wanting to be alone followed me into middle school and made it very hard for me to adjust, as I went from being in a school with just my town to a middle school of 7 towns in total. My first real memory of stepping out of my comfort zone and making myself vulnerable to those around me was in 7th grade field hockey. I had been playing field hockey since I was 8 years old and it was one of my favorite things to do. I remember being so excited the first day of try outs, then when I got there my mood completely changed. I realized that I was the only person from my town trying out and I knew no one.
The Realization Point: I came home to my mom that night crying, and begged her to let me quit. She insisted that I go back the next day, explaining how much I would regret not being able to continue on with field hockey all because I didn’t have any friends. She also explained to me that almost every person there was in the same boat as me and is just as nervous. Somehow what she said convinced me to go in with a new attitude, as my love for the game was enough for me to get over my fear of not knowing anyone. I decided to put myself out there and talked to more and more girls each day, and I learned that my mom was right, everyone of those girls what just as scared as I was to meet new people.
In the end, going back the second day to tryouts was one of the best decisions of my life as I met my 3 best friends that I am still friends with today. I realized that putting yourself out there really does have its benefits (as explained in an article by Bill Butler), and I can never know these things unless I try. I also learned that in this situation and so many others, that when I am feeling nervous or anxious about a certain scenario, odds are many other people are feeling the exact same way.
The Forever Lesson: I still carry these lessons with me today. Moving from New Hampshire to Colorado to go to school was a very big decision for me. I did not know one person at the University, and weeks before school started my freshman year I started to panic at this idea. This is when my mom once again reminded me of 7th grade field hockey and reassured me that I could do it and in the end no matter what I would be fine.
So here I am today at the same University, and once again my mom was right, I am perfectly fine. I needed the push to make myself vulnerable and open myself to new situations/people. I could not be happier with my decision to go here and I have made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. When considering connections and bonds Brené Brown was extremely right in saying “Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” An article published in Harvard Business Review helped me further understand how vulnerability leads to connection.