Safeness in Familiarity
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.
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.