I had a lovely weekend and I met a lot of interesting people at the first annual Moose Jaw Health and Wellness Expo. Not only is it the best ROI on Trade Show tables EVER, but it puts me in touch with a lot of like-minded people.
It also allows me to really questions my self and how people view me, how I project myself, why I choose to project certain aspects of myself over others, and really, just a full-blown crash course in how I interact with the world-at-large.
The first thing I notice is the positive reaction when meeting people for the first time. I am charismatic, amiable and outgoing. I dress well, apparently. MANY people came up to complement me just on my outfits. I also had people tell me they felt drawn to me, felt inspired by me, were interested in hearing more about my ideas and my life in general, and tell me they wished they were more like me in a number of key ways.
It’s enough to go to a girl’s head, in other words. There’s so much fodder to chew on here that I might have to do more than one post. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
The Tendency To Be Inconspicuous
We’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another, I expect. Hiding our attributes to avoid being singled out for things that we’ve got a right to be proud of. That’s a really hard thing to do. We have evolved a culture of mediocrity, and it shows
NB, really got to write a post on that theme. It’s a pet peeve of mine.
We SAY we’re training our kids to really stand out and achieve things, but in practice, we just want them to rate a little bit higher than average — according to standardized testing, no less. People who are truly outstanding have a problem with rules (something about testing the limits) and they make it somewhat uncomfortable for the contentedly mediocre to be around.
I finally got to the point where I would actually shun people who made me feel as if I should dumb myself down in order to be easier to like. That is a reaction that I’ve outgrown as I’ve gotten into practice at not hiding my light under a bushel, but I recommend it if that’s a habit you’d like to encourage in yourself.
Because that’s really what negative people hold over your head, isn’t it? If you’re too special, people might not like you. They actually withhold love and social approval unless you conform.
I don’t buy into that, and that’s something that people admire about me.
What They Don’t See
The thing that people often erroneously assume is that I must either be so confident I’m practically bulletproof or inside I’m a shivering wreck. Well, actually, neither is true.
To be honest, being around people is a bit of staging. It’s not that I’m not interested, but I’m a bit of a nut for novelty; I like characters, and I like people with interesting things to say. Oh, and I like meeting people who draw the eye, the attention-grabbers. So naturally, I try to emulate my own ideal. I dress to draw the eye. In fact, I dress to wow. I want to be memorable. This is not inauthentic posturing, this is me adapting the impression I make to get what I want out of social interaction: ideas, insights and memorable connections. Another blogger I read commented that it’s not considered inauthentic to dress in a suit to apply for a loan; why should any other interaction, apart from those with your intimates, be viewed under a harsher light?
The outfits are to get attention; conversation is how you keep it.
Here’s where I have two pretty distinct advantages. The first is that I’ve already had a pretty interesting life and a few pretty powerful insights to share.
The second is that I really am interested in people and how they experience life, and what they think about the whole deal.
You can’t fake that, and you’re really better off not to try.
So that’s how I get attention in crowds: I intend to, and I taught myself how.
What is harder for people to understand, viscerally, is how my psyche bears the strain of being so conspicuous. do I need all that attention? Will it eventually make me rather insufferable? Or am I somehow an angelic being who has no attachments to the dross?
None of the Above
You often see the dynamic of people who need approval in order to feel good about themselves. You see people who act as if they really do believe they’re superior. And occasionally you even see people who consciously ignore all social dynamics, which really draws a certain type of person.
I’m none of those. I acknowledge the ego-gratification that come with being respected, admired, looked up to, and I as much as possible try to disidentify with it. I know that no single person can know me so well that their opinion of me constitutes an all-encompassing assessment of my worth or lack thereof. Furthermore, I largely control their perceptions of me, so I’m really skewing the pitch a bit, aren’t I?
Just being aware of the dynamics that might come into play makes it a lot easier to assess whether or not I’m actually being shifted by them. For instance, I’m accustomed to being right. This isn’t (in my opinion) because I’m more insightful or intelligent than other people. It’s because I don’t make a stand unless I’m fairly certain. Therefore, if I insist a thing is so, it pretty well always is. But recently I was asked, “Do you always have to be right?” Apparently I was giving off the vibe that I needed them to be wrong. I stepped back, examined the situation, and concluded that while my position didn’t change, I actually didn’t need to prove it. I didn’t care THAT much. And so I stopped arguing. And that actually pissed off the other people more than arguing did!
One of my pitfalls in the past has been to do something just because it will make for a good story later; In other words, the best ROI on ego-gratification. Since I started making sure that when I set out to do things they were for good reasons, not just so that it would impress people, I’ve actually have the gratifying sensation of getting praise for something I would have done anyway. What a concept!
Self-Confidence = Self-Love
People tell me they wished they were as self-confident as I appear, that they wish they could love myself as I love myself. That, I’ll admit, somewhat flummoxes me.
I do love myself. And I don’t know how I got this way. There have been times I felt lonely, awkward, stigmatized, larger-than-life, and hard-to-love. I actually thought that I would never partner up because I expect too much of myself and those around me.
To this day, I do things that I am not proud of. I have interactions where I wish I had behaved with more sensitivity. I more often than not choose to observe situations where it might have been more worthy of me to get involved.
But I do see myself as being, on the whole, quite, quite lucky to be me, to be alive, and that I’ve got a phenomenal adventure called my Life to be involved it.
Specifically, I am lucky in several integral ways. Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better. I have a loving and supportive partner who wants to build an amazing life with me. I have a tightknit family that means I never experience isolation. I am healthy, and I am beautiful. I am intelligent, and more importantly, I am becoming wise. All my physical needs are met, and I have the resources to deal with almost anything.
Now, it’s all very well to be happy, confident and gracious in a position of strength, but what about when you’re not?
I don’t know.
What? Did you expect me to have all the answers? I don’t.
I can’t tell you why you aren’t more like me. Only you can do that. What I can say is that I’ll bet it’s not me you want to be more like. I’ll bet you want to be more like yourself.