SNEAKER: PRETEND TO BE OUTGOING
I’ve never been a naturally outgoing person. I’m not inclined to strike up a conversation or initiate a friendship. But I actually realized, years ago, that this was something I could change. I’m in my mid-thirties now, and still using and refining a Sneaker moment that happened when I was just 9 years old.
Here it is:
I’m packing for a week at sleep-away camp, the summer before 5th grade, when I suddenly have a Eureka moment. No one at this camp knows me. They don’t KNOW that I’m shy. So I could just show up and ACT OUTGOING, and people will think I’m outgoing. If the experiment failed, it would sure be a looong week. But there would be a light at the end of the tunnel: camp would end and I’d never see any of these people again. So I decide to give it a shot.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH…
I arrive at camp and say goodbye to my parents. Then I walk up to the first girl I see, and imitate every outgoing girl I’ve ever met. I prepare to speak up, smile big, and act as if we are already friends. “HI!,” I say, in a much louder voice than my usual meek tones. “I’m Jamie. What’s your name?”
The girl smiled back, and was one of the many new friends I made that week at camp. It’s been 25 years, and I’m still not a naturally outgoing person. But I remind myself before every networking event and professional cocktail party to “get my sneakers dirty,” by acting outgoing. I’ve helped my career (and my husband’s) immensely due to my apparent outgoing personality at work-related functions. And I’ve made friends and real connections with others, especially with shy people. As a shy person myself, I know exactly how they feel, and how nice it is when an extrovert walks right up and introduces herself.