Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Sometimes you really are being watched…
Photo by T L / Unsplash

My first day of college was quite possibly one of the most nerve-racking days of my life. I had already walked the campus multiple times prior to that day so I knew where all the buildings were. However, just knowing the buildings was half the battle. Just walking into a building on my first day ever with shuffling students would make my heart race.

There was nothing to be nervous about, but I was scared with simple things as opening a door to a classroom because I didn't know if the class prior had been dismissed or not. Finding a place to sit was even more stressful, sometimes there were no seats available at the ends so I had to push my way through rows in front of kids much older than me.

As days became months - this never was an issue ever again. I remember my last semester of school I stumbled into the first day of class without any supplies. I was going to buy them after my first break in the day.

This nervousness extended to my first interview, first day at a post college job and the first time I went to a Meetup.

I started thinking about those situations and they were forced onto me and thus became less uncomfortable, but other activities that were optional have fallen by the wayside.

Tampa Bay Young Professionals

I attended the above group when I first moved to Tampa 3 years ago. I was 24 years old - on the beginning spectrum of the age of this group. I showed up at the location and I didn't know anyone there. I didn't know who was part of the group or who was a random visitor. In order to not look more awkward - I got a drink to hold in my hand and kept looking around.

One great individual noticed me and walked up and asked if I was here for the meetup. I said "yes" and he introduced me to a few people. It was very thoughtful, but I was an outlier to the group by age and familiarity. These people were talking to each-other and I was just standing there awkwardly. I drank my drink quickly just from wanting to look like I wasn't bored. I didn't have the social power to interject into the conversation with people I was standing around.

I went to the bar and closed out my tab and left without anyone (I think) noticing me. As of today (June 8, 2019) I've never been back to a Tampa Bay Young Professionals meetup. I attended other groups, more focused towards Android and PHP. The small attendee list and office space meant that everyone met everyone and generally forced me to get involved.

I learned that I suck at doing things that make me uncomfortable.

Which I think is a problem that probably many suffer from. I've gotten too comfortable in front of screens, which has led to some pitfalls in the real world. Tinder/Bumble matches usually fade out, because it is too nerve racking to just plan a date.

Things were easier when you were forced to interact with people in school. Just seeing the same people 20-30 times a day really makes interactions easier.

So last week, unintentionally, I tried to end that nervousness. During an event in downtown Tampa someone walked up and gave me a flyer for a party later that night to celebrate a women's swim suit store opening up. It was on dock #2 and I could see it being setup at 4pm. So after my event ended, I got a few more drinks and wandered back towards the dock around 7pm.

As I got in range of the dock, I was greeted and told all about this company. I lied to the face of everyone explaining that my girlfriend was out of town, but she might be interested. Truth - there was no girlfriend, but all in all the party was interesting. I got one of the few standing tables to rest my drink so naturally other people came up to me. I was quite tipsy at that point anyway, so conversation flowed. No one was even talking about the business at that point, but just random topics.

I broke over a mound of uncertainty, but I think I owe the alcohol for that certain success.

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