Most people assume I’m an extrovert – they see pink hair, loud, brash, out there, occasionally opinionated, and think I must be overflowing with confidence.
The truth is, I’m naturally much more introverted. I had to learn how to install more confidence in order to deliver my message to an audience that needs to hear it.
Looking back, I was an only child and I loved nothing more than disappearing into my bedroom and reading great adventure books, or allowing my imagination to create all kinds of wonderful scenarios. Even then, I would do anything to avoid a school trip and I have memories of my mum having to come and pick me up from a school pal’s birthday party, because I got myself so wound up.
Who knows where it stems from but, suffice to say, my fear of ‘socialising’ in large gatherings has always been an issue for me.
I can go to large gatherings with a small group of friends, and that’s okay.
Drop me into a group of strangers on my own and it takes all my reserves to stay put!
If I’m speaking at an event, running a workshop or retreat, or signing my books, I’m totally at ease and in my comfort zone. I know why I’m there and what I need to do – I have clarity of purpose.
But… send me to one of those open networking events or push me into someone else’s party and I flounder. I panic. I tell myself I’m crap at small talk. I hate the idea of chipping my way into a conversation through a wall of shoulders. I’ll be the one heading for the kitchen at a summer BBQ and trying to avoid the crowds.
The picture is of me, earlier this week, ‘hiding’ in the toilets at the Best Business Women Awards Winners’ Lunch, in London. I was given the title of the UK’s Best Female Coach back in October – I still can’t quite believe it. I got through the glittering, people-packed awards bash by taking my wife and a pal with me and leaning a little on the complimentary bar! I’m glad I’d only had a couple of drinks when they called my award!
Back to the picture and this week’s celebratory lunch…
Okay, strictly speaking, I wasn’t hiding – it was just a quick restroom break – but all my nightmares were answered when I walked back into the room and realised everyone else had gathered into conversation huddles. If I didn’t tackle those walls of shoulders, I’d be Tazzy-no-mates!
Thankfully, a couple of lovely chaps took pity on me and called me into their conversation. We talked everything from restaurants and hotels to business goals and coaching. Comfort zone restored!
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s easy to look at others and assume they have it all figured out. Mostly, I *do* have it sorted, but simple open networking – socialising without a specific ‘purpose’ – in any form, still leaves me quaking in my sparkly, pink boots.
I’m working on it.
I’m better than I used to be and my mission is strong enough to make me persevere, rather than bolt, but just know, if your confidence isn’t all you need it to be, you won’t be on your own.
If you find yourself in a room full of people who seem professional, sorted and in their element, I bet there’ll be a few of them who are just like you and I – battling with all kinds of daft fears and doubts and smiling regardless.
Keep going. You’ve got this – even if you aren’t ready to believe it! It gets easier – I promise.
Until next time,