The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Month 1 Talking to Strangers”

Friday: Frisbee and Swing Dance

Last Friday was a pretty good day.  I went to play Ultimate Frisbee after school and had a lot of fun.  It’s mostly guys who play at the high school and they can get very competitive, but this time they passed to me and I enjoyed it much more.

I even joined in on this frisbee target game that I thought I would stink at and would embarrass myself in front of all the others, but it turns out that I was actually pretty good at it and nearly won!  I surprised myself and apparently the guys watching, who my friend told me were very impressed with me.  After frisbee we took a lot of fun pictures, and we laughed a lot.  🙂

After frisbee I went home and got ready to go out swing dancing.  My close friend Angela and her boyfriend picked me and my brother up, and we headed out an hour and a half for the dance.  It’s a long ways to go, but considering our town is too small to have swing dances, it’s better than not going at all.

Swing dance had been one of my main ideas on how I could talk to enough strangers last month, but it turned out that I didn’t get to go in January and had to find other ways to meet people.  I thought it would be easier to make small talk at swing dance, but that night I found that I felt really friendly in the beginning of the night, and later on more reclusive as I became more tired.

I did introduce myself to many people though and gave out a few compliments on cool-looking ties and an awesome handlebar mustache.  The guys were quite appreciative too, and when I told one guy that I liked his tie, he responded by saying, “Well I’m really glad I wore it then!” with a smile.

I got asked to dance quite a few times in a row in the beginning, and soon became aware that I had to stop dancing at some point and grab some water.  Some dances I sat out and watched.  Sometimes I simply just wanted to sit out because my legs were sore, and other times I felt shy and had a harder time finding someone to dance with.

One guy asked me quite a few times, and even when he didn’t ask me I could tell he was trying to out of the corner of my eye.  I asked one guy who I noticed hadn’t been dancing at all and had just been standing in the corner, smiling at the dancers.  He said it was his first time ever dancing, and we talked about swing dance and how fun it is.  He seemed pretty happy that I asked him, and he was sweet.

We went out to eat afterwards and that was fun too.  We had some interesting and unusual conversations.  We were hoping to see our usual waitress, but she wasn’t there so we met someone new.  She was pretty nice, and we all liked her.  I suggested that we should write a note to leave with her tip to try and brighten her day a little.  On a napkin I wrote, “Thanks for being such a wonderful waitress Jenna!  Tell Amy the swing crew came by!  Hope you have a good night!” And then Angela added illustrations of the food we ate in monster form, and we left it with the tips and headed for home.

It was a wonderful day, even though it hadn’t started that way at school and I didn’t feel better until frisbee. 🙂

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Water Audit Internship

Last Thursday I did a water audit, which is basically an assessment of a client’s home water usage.  I do a customer interview, perform a couple of tests on the showers and faucets to measure water flow, and then enter all my data into a designated program on the computer that calculates where the customer’s water is going, how much they are using, and most importantly, where and how they can improve their water efficiency.

I got this internship opportunity through a school club I joined last year.  Training was offered to any club member interested, and initially I was going to pass on it.  It sounded really professional and intimidating to me, and I thought it would be something that I couldn’t do.  But I told my mom about it, and she encouraged me to get trained.  My mom often encourages me to do things like this that intimidate me, and I suppose that’s a good thing.  I listened to her, and attended all the training sessions.  For the last one we had to do a mock audit in front of the rest of the group in our adviser’s home, which made me pretty nervous, but I did well actually and passed with flying colors. (This is an example of one opportunity I would have missed if I had let my shyness dictate my decision.)

On Wednesday I received an email asking if I wanted to do the audit tomorrow (Thursday) since it was canceled on me  last week, and I said yes because I already had the data and decided it was best to say yes.

I left my school at lunch and went to do the audit (we have to miss about 2 hours of school when we do these audits since they’re during the day), computer bag and printer in both hands.  I always feel like a business person whenever I have to carry that stuff around school, it’s so heavy too.  I drove myself for once and was able to follow my mom’s directions fine.

Once I got to the house, I rang the doorbell, and was greeted by the client, Karen, who I shook hands with.  (We have to be very professional.)  She had a little daschund who was 11, and he was very cute waddling around slowly and wagging his tail.  He had a lot of white spots around his eyes and around his head in general.

Karen was nice, and I greeted my supervisor Kate too, who does the energy audit.  I did my interview(without feeling much nervousness actually, I guess I’ve gotten used to it) and all my tests on the showers and faucets around the house.  Then I typed up my results and filled out the spreadsheet on the computer.  While Kate was away it was just me and Karen, and it was quiet for a bit.  I broke the silence by asking her about 2 months that were unusually high on her water bill, and if there had been a leak perhaps.  She said she didn’t think so, but she did put in the lawn those 2 months.

Everything in my report was done and ready to be printed, so I just had to wait for Kate to come back.  I went over and pet Karen’s dog, who was really sweet and licked my fingers to show affection.  Karen came over and I talked to her about her dog, my past dog Winnie, and my neighbor’s dogs Penny and Dexter.  I told her about how I had been doing a lot of dog walking and was really enjoying it, and we had a good conversation.

Kate came back and I talked to her about my report, then printed it.  I presented my findings to the client and went over her water assessment document.  I explained the graphs and the charts and where they could make improvements.  After I went over everything, I thanked her for her time, and said I hoped she found this report helpful.  She said she definitely did and thanked me for my time, and we shook hands.  I think I presented everything pretty well and was sure to go into detail about each part, though occasionally I caught myself talking faster or stumbling over a few words.

I left feeling good about the audit, and drove myself home no problem.

LN4 Hand Project and Middle School Auction

So far this weekend has turned out to be a busy one, even though I didn’t really have any plans.  On Friday after school I volunteered with Interact Club again.  This time we were helping out with the LN4 Prosthetic Hand Project (more info about that project here:  http://www.ln-4.org/# ), which sounded pretty cool to me.  It turns out that we didn’t get to actually help put the hands together, but I can’t really blame them for not wanting high schoolers to be in charge of that.  But they did have all 30 or so of us in the club put bags of screws together in an assembly line fashion.  There were about 15 different containers of screws, and we needed to put one of each in a bag.  So we all moved down the line, adding one of each of the screws to our little bag, and then once we got one of each we put the bag in a box where the others were piled and went back around to the end of the line again to fill another bag.  We actually did this for an hour and a half, so it got a little tedious after a while.  But eventually all the screws were packaged and ready to be sent off to the next people who would actually use those screws to help put together the hand.  I would have liked to have done more to help, but at least I was able to help in some way.  My friend Pearl was there and I also saw and talked to my friend Maria, who I haven’t talked to in a while.  It was good catching up with her.

I thought I would just volunteer afterschool and go home and relax afterward, but Pearl and Maria kept mentioning the middle school auction that Interact was going to help out with.  I didn’t originally think I was going to go because I thought it’d be too much to do in one day, but I decided to do it after all.  And I’m glad I did.

We helped out at the auction from 5-9pm.  I actually drove myself there and back for the first time, which is a bit of an accomplishment for me.  I don’t like driving on my own much, especially when it’s dark out.  I didn’t want to drive by myself and wanted my mom just to drop me off, but she insisted that I go by myself.  It wasn’t so bad after all, but I still am not a big fan of driving at night when it’s a lot harder to see.  But I did it and didn’t have any problems.

I met up with Pearl in front of the school around 5pm and we saw a few other friends there that I’m not as close to.  Pearl and I (and a few other volunteers) handed out dinner choices to the people at the auction, so I briefly talked to strangers in offering them choices of food, drinks, etc.

I also bought 10 raffle tickets for $10 to try and win one of the auctions and also support the school.  I put 5 of my tickets in a Guitar Hero 5 game for PS3 raffle, where I noticed only 2 other tickets were in.  I spread out the other 5 tickets in miscellaneous gift card prizes.

And sure enough, I won the Guitar Hero game!  The lady announced my name as “Brittany…Weird?”(she made a face when she said it too) and I couldn’t help but laugh.  I figured she must have meant me and claimed my prize.  My last name is Wood but I had scribbled my name on each of the tickets quickly so I guess somehow it looked like “weird”.  It was funny anyhow.

So that was pretty awesome, considering I never usually win anything.  But I knew my odds were pretty good for winning the game, considering I didn’t have much competition.  I don’t have a PS3 though, so I’ll probably just sell it online and use some of the money to get the ps2 version instead.

At first I didn’t think I was even going to buy any raffle tickets at all, because even raffles make me really nervous.  I’ve actually said “not me, not me…” in my head when raffle tickets are being announced as winners, because I don’t want to have to be the center of attention.  I told my oldest brother this one time during a raffle at an A’s game and he said “You’re so shy…” and I felt kind of embarrassed that I had even told him.  But this time there were so few people and I already knew that I had a good chance of winning this one that I didn’t mind.  There were just a few people standing around the announcer in the gym while most of the others weren’t even paying attention, so it was very low key.

It was fun all in all, but after 4 hours, it was good to be home.

Tried to Add Speech Class…

Well tonight I went off to the community college center again, this time in hopes(sort of) of adding a speech class.  I went to the class and sat down nervously in the 2nd row.  I seated myself one chair away from a guy who looked to be in his mid thirties, early forties. So far I’ve mostly been talking to women because it’s easier for me I guess being a girl and all, so I decided to try and talk to a guy.

At first I thought I wasn’t going to end up talking to him.  I felt pretty awkward, and instead pretended to focus on the speech book and flip through the pages.  I glanced at him from time to time to see if he might want to talk, but he too was flipping through the speech book and reading parts of it.  Eventually I finally said “This is the only book we need right?” as I pointed to the book we both held.  He looked up and smiled and said yeah, and that he had asked the teacher that too.  I said that’s good and he said yeah it’s pretty cheap too, which is nice.  I asked him if he was already registered for the class, and he said he was the first on the list to add, and I told him that I was trying to add too but was further down the list.  Then the class started and the teacher started speaking.

The teacher said that he wasn’t going to be able to add many people, and read off a list of names of the people he couldn’t add that signed up.  Unfortunately, I was one of the names he called, so I had to gather my things and leave.  I was sort of disappointed because he seemed like a pretty nice teacher and was understanding that nobody is really looking forward to this class and he wanted to ease everyone into speaking slowly.  I think I’ll take his speech class another semester.  I thought taking a speech class would be great for part of the Shyness Project, but unfortunately I didn’t get in.  I do have to confront my public speaking fears though, so I’m thinking of other options like Toastmasters that I can do to put myself in that feared situation.  I hate presentations and public speaking, but I know it will be helpful for me if I at least try.

Career Class…Stunk

Tonight I had my first career class at the community college, and as much as I was looking forward to it, it turned out to be a real disappointment.  When I first arrived 15 minutes before the class was scheduled to start, I noticed that the room was dark and nobody was there.  I thought that was odd, and another girl walked by and was looking in the classroom too, wondering what was going on.  I asked her if she was in the career class and she said yeah, and I started talking to her about the class and where the teacher must be.  She said she wanted to study psychology when I brought up the topics of careers, and I told her I’m undecided though I’m starting to find interest in Occupational Therapy. I made small talk a little while longer until people started going into the classroom and turning on the lights.

I sat down next to the girl and told her my name and she told me hers(Jacora).  It felt good knowing that I had already made a friend since the classroom seemed really empty.  By the time the teacher arrived, there was maybe 20 people in the class, but still there were numerous empty chairs.  The class felt really empty.

The teacher turned out to be really monotone and boring.  He had to keep telling people to stop glancing at the clock, because it was obvious that many of us were bored out of our minds and couldn’t wait to go home.  It’s disappointing though because I was looking forward to this class the most. I thought it’d be exciting to be surrounded by a bunch of people wondering what they want to do with their lives and have a teacher who can really reach out to us and help us, but no, it wasn’t anything like that.

During the break, I went to sit out in the common room area where they have some comfy chairs, and an older lady I recognized from the class sat across from me.  At first I flipped through the career book awkwardly, not making eye contact because I didn’t know if she’d want to talk or not or how I’d talk to her.  Eventually I just thought heck with it and looked up and said, “You’re taking the career class too right?”  And she looked up and said yeah, and I asked her what she thought of it so far.  I said it seemed really boring, and she agreed and said he seems really boring and unmotivational.  She said she was having trouble staying awake.  I said I was glad it wasn’t just me then.  We then talked about other classes we were taking, and both said we wanted to drop this class now.  She said her name is Debra.  I recommended that she try and add the psych class I’m taking, because it seems like a good class.

Even though the class wasn’t what I hoped for and now I’ve officially dropped it, at least I went out of my way to talk to two strangers.  I think it’s starting to get easier now the more I’ve done this.  I have a better idea of how to start conversations and feel more self-confident in my ability to carry on conversations with people I don’t know.  Practice definitely does help.  As January is coming to close, I’m starting to plan my next goal for February.  As of right now I’ve decided that I want to dedicate February to “Improving Friendships”.  Now that I’ve gone out of my way to meet new people that I’d normally not even talk to, I want to focus on building my friendships with the people I already know.  I never kept tally of the number of strangers I’ve talked to, but I know I’ve talked to quite a few, and I’m quite proud of myself for that.  It’s not as easy as it may sound.  Negative thoughts, heart racing, etc can make it quite difficult. I’m sure it’s much easier for others than it is for me, and I’m sure it’s even harder for others than it is for me.(and it’s pretty hard for me, though I’ve improved a lot even in a month)  A lot of it has to do with being in the right mind set and feeling good about yourself.  Exercise, showers, talking to friends, receiving compliments or praise from friends and teachers: those all help with building self-confidence.  Before I went out sometimes I found it helpful to look myself in the mirror and remind myself that I’m self-confident and loved by others, so I should love myself.  People will be more than happy to talk to me.  It seemed to help.

1st Night of Psychology

Well what do you know, the first class went great! 🙂  I was so worried about it and imagined myself having trouble talking to people in my class, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!

I got dropped off at the college 20 minutes before my class began, and immediately went to the list posted in the center of the room where students were crowded around.  I figured this was the list that showed all the class numbers for each of the classes.  When the crowd whittled down a little so I could get close enough to the list, I scanned for my Intro to Psych class and soon found it.  I asked one of the ladies that was crowded around the list if that room number was upstairs, but I got no response, and she left.  I felt a little embarrassed, but I don’t think she was ignoring me on purpose, she must have not realized that I was talking to her.(even though I turned around and faced her)  Anywho, I went upstairs to where I thought the class would be, and eventually found it even though the room numbers were scrambled and were not in order.

When I entered the class, it was dead silent.  About 10 people were already seated, and no one was talking or making any kind of noise, not even ruffling papers!  I scanned the room trying to figure out where to sit so I could be in a good position to talk to some people.  I decided on the 3rd row, and sat next to an older lady.  My first thoughts were “Dang, it’s so freakin quiet in here that I’m never going to get a conversation started!”  I was conscious of my breathing even, that’s how quiet it was.  I felt awkward.  I then decided to ask the lady next to me if this was the Intro to Psych class, and she smiled and said yes.  I then started talking to her about the textbook that we both had out and asked if she had read any of it yet, and she said she hadn’t and asked if I had, and I said I’d read the first chapter.  She then asked how much I had to pay for the book and I said only a few bucks because I got it online.  She said she got hers for around $10 at a thrift store or something like that.  I then told her about the other classes I was taking and she told me about some of the classes she’d taken.  She said she’s 50 years old and has been trying to get all the requirements to get an AA degree.  She smiled a lot and was really nice and friendly, I’m glad I sat next to her and started talking to her.

Then another girl came in and sat next to me, and asked me if this was the intro to psych class.  I smiled and said yes, and that I had actually asked the same question earlier.  I then asked her if this was her first psych class and she said yeah, and that she needed it as a nursing requirement.  She wants to transfer to a nursing program.  I then showed her my schedule and talked about classes that she liked or ones that were easy and she gave me the teachers’ names.  She and the older lady also use ratemyprofessor.com, so we talked about the reviews for this teacher and the other teachers that I was going to have.  She was really nice and friendly too.  The girl’s name was Rose, and she actually knew the other lady next to me, Patricia, from a Spanish class, so we were all talking in our row so no one was left out, which was great.  Everyone else in the room was still pretty much silent, but after we started talking it wasn’t weird being the only ones talking, and as I mentioned that I got the book for cheap online a guy in the front spun around and asked me how much I had paid for it, and I told him only a few bucks off of the internet.

Soon the class started, and the instructor, Mrs. Jaimez, introduced herself and said she had a PhD in psychology and first worked as a psychologist, and later decided to become a teacher so she could spend more time with her kids.  She said she enjoys teaching more anyhow.  She then said that she wanted each of us to introduce ourselves, say something interesting about ourselves, and then say why we were taking the class.  I felt a pang of nervousness in my stomach, but was glad that I had at least talked to the people next to me already and had already been talking and introducing myself before she made us do it to the class.  Rose looked at me and raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, as if to say “oh great” and I smiled.

She started in the front row and eventually it got to the third row and Patricia introduced herself and accidentally repeated why she was taking the class twice out of nervousness I think, but she pointed that out aloud and got some laughs.  The interesting thing she said about herself was that she works on the clavicle of the back or something like that.  I’m not sure exactly how she put it, but she pointed to her lower spine.  Then it was my turn(oh boy), and I said “Hi my name’s Brittany, I like to play tennis and go swing dancing.  I’m taking this class because I think it sounds interesting and I want to learn more about psychology.”  I did my best to speak loudly and clearly, and I think I was understood.  Then Rose went, and said she’s pregnant and due in August.  She said she’s taking this class because it’s a requirement to get into a nursing program.  Then all the 50 something people went, and when one lady said her name, Ann Healy, in a beautiful British accent, I knew that must have been my friend Emily’s mom.  I thought Emily was thinking of taking the class, but I didn’t see her there, and I didn’t expect her mom to be taking it.  I wondered if the mom would know me if I went and talked to her, since I’d never met her before and hadn’t hung out with Emily too much.  But during the break, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see her standing over me and she said she knew I was Emily’s friend and I told her I thought she was her mom.  I also said that I thought Emily was going to take the class too, but it turns out that she really wanted to volunteer at the library and ended up with a shift on Wednesdays, so she couldn’t take the class.  We talked about the class and she said a cousin had taken the class and really liked it.  She then said she was heading outside for the break and left the classroom.  I got some papers together on my desk, then decided to head down to the bathroom.  When I was at the sink washing my hands, Emily’s mom came out of one of the stalls and washed her hands too, and she started asking me about my tennis season.  I told her it had ended a few months ago, and she asked if I missed it, and I said not really because the weather’s been so bad and I have so much more free time now so that I can take these college classes.  We then talked the rest of the way back to class, and returned to our seats on the opposite side of the room.  I started talking with Patricia and Rose some more until the class started up again.

So for the actual class, it was alright.  She pretty much lectures from powerpoints and you have to really listen to what she’s saying to have good notes, because her slides are very brief and won’t tell you much of anything.  She seems nice though, I think some of her tests will be tough and I think I’ll have to spend a lot of time studying and reading the chapters assigned each week, but it should be ok.  She encourages participation and offers a lot of opportunities to participate, and I thought it would be great to raise my hand for something since I was already on a roll that night, but my shyness got the best of me and I kept my hand down, despite repeated efforts in my mind to “answer the next question”.  The next question came and went, and I found some excuse in my mind not to answer it.  For example, some of my thoughts were: I don’t want to answer that one because it’s too hard to explain, I’m not sure how to word my answer so it sounds like something I’d say and not what I just noticed in my textbook, The answer I have might not be what she’s looking for, Someone else already said the one I was going to say and anything else I say already sounds too similar, yadda yadda yadda.  My mind really needs to shut up sometimes.  But I’m so proud of myself for making 2 friends in my classes, and becoming friends with Emily’s mom.  I had a lot of good conversations, and was able to be friendly even when everyone else in the room was silent and sticking to themselves.  Normally, I’d be one of those people.  I’d be doodling, flipping through the textbook, anything to avoid making eye contact with people and attempting conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d WANT to talk to people, I’d want to make a friend, but I’d feel so awkward that I would just keep my eyes glued down rather than attempt something that could cause embarrassment or awkward lulls in conversation if I couldn’t think of what else to say.

So all that worrying was for nothing.  I did great, and I’m really happy with myself.  When 2 of my other classes start next week, hopefully they’ll go just as well, and I won’t be stressing out as much as I was this time.  But realistically, I know I’ll worry.  I just have to remind myself how well this experience went and how past experiences have gone well too.  My perception of the situation controls how I feel about it, so if I can think to myself that the class will go fine and that there’s no harm in talking to people and if I don’t it’s not the end of the world it should help.  Having expectations to talk to people makes me more nervous because I don’t want to let myself down, but they’re also helpful for me because I like to fulfill goals.  I feel a sense of pride when I set out to do what I want to do.  Unfortunately when I don’t fulfill my goals, I often feel sad and ashamed that I couldn’t open my mouth and say something to the person next to me.  So I have to be careful not to be too hard on myself and put extra pressure on myself, because that could very well backfire.

First Class Jitters

So tonight I have my first psychology class at the local community college.  Ever since I got home from school, I’ve been pacing around the house, getting more and more nervous as the time approaches.  I’ll have to leave in about 20 minutes.  I don’t know why I’m getting so nervous, for some reason I always get first day of class jitters.  I probably wouldn’t be as nervous if I weren’t planning on trying to introduce myself to two of my classmates today and starting a conversation, but that is the goal.  It shouldn’t be that hard to talk to the people next to me, but I can imagine that it’ll be a little awkward for me to try and get the person’s attention who’s sitting next to me.  I’m planning to get to class early and get a seat near the front, and then when people come to sit next to me(hopefully) I can smile and say hi and start a conversation about the class or something like that.  Cross your fingers for me!  I hope the people who sit next to me are open to a conversation.

First Day Back at School and Angie’s Surprise Party

Well, the first day back of school turned out to be a pretty good one actually.  I was in a social mood you could say.  In 3rd period, a new student named Aidan entered our class and the teacher put him next to me.  He didn’t seem to know anyone else and didn’t have any photoshop experience that we need in the class, so I introduced myself and helped him out.  I helped him get set up on the computer and with a photoshop project we started today. I asked about his classes and his schedule change, and tried to be friendly and helpful to him.  I’m glad I did that, because I think he appreciated having someone to talk to and ask for help instead of feeling alone and confused as to what we were doing.

At lunch, I went to my friend Sue’s house for the first time.  I tried some Korean food- one thing was called kim bob(seaweed rice) which consisted of egg, carrot, rice, ham, and red pepper all wrapped around in a circle with an outer layer of seaweed(kim) and an inner layer of rice(bob). It tasted all right, and I was glad there was a little bit of meat in there to make it taste better.  She said this food is commonly used for picnics, or for general snacks. I also tried something called ddeok bok ki, which is a rice cake in korean hot sauce and water.  It’s also a snack, and it was a little spicy, but alright as well.  It was cool trying some new foods and learning some more about her culture.  She even had a Korean toilet that had a bunch of buttons, and she told me that in Korea they only use toilet paper for #1 and they use this water feature that shoots up from the toilet for #2, which is apparently cleaner to them.  It was interesting, and it made me think of No Impact Man, who didn’t use toilet paper for a year.  That could have been one of the ways he did that.

After lunch I went to 5th period, and had to squeeze past a girl I sat next to but had never talked to since her seat was blocking the way to my seat.  As I was passing she thought she had accidentally elbowed me but I told her she hadn’t and smiled.  I started talking to her for the first time and she said she was excited, and I said for what, biotech?  And she said no, for Sac Anime!  I told her I had heard of that but didn’t really know much about it, and she explained more details about it to me and it was interesting.  We then talked about animes, manga, and comic con, and it was a good conversation.  I like those things too and it was easy to talk when we had a common interest.  I usually don’t talk about that stuff much though since most people I know don’t like it or think it’s too geeky or whatever.  I don’t watch anime much, but the few I have seen I’ve enjoyed and I want to watch some others sometime.  Then our teacher finally started class and we turned our attention to him.

So I actually had a pretty good day at school, and talked to 2 people I hadn’t talked to before.  After school, I went with my friend Angie’s boyfriend Nick and my brother to go bowling.  We picked up Nick’s friend Mike, who I talked to and introduced myself.  I started conversations by talking about all the board games like DnD and Gamma War that were in his car, and asked him how to play them and about the games.  Then I also talked to him about art and drawing.

We later arrived at the bowling alley, and waited around for a half hour or so for the cheaper price.  The plan for bowling was to bring together Angie’s friends for a surprise birthday party. The first ones to arrive were Angie’s friend Lenea and her boyfriend.  I asked Lenea how she knew Angela and if she knew her from work, and she said they met at community college through Erica.  We talked for a bit, and I said I remembered seeing her once when she gave us senior ticket prices at the movie theater. She seemed pretty cool.  She had a quirky outfit on and sported a nose ring under her nose.

Then Erica came, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  We hugged and I talked to her a little about jobs.

At 5:30, Angela came.  Nick led her into the alley and had her close her eyes, and then she opened them and we surprised her!  She seemed happy to see us, as well as surprised.

Then Mitchell and Doug showed up, and they’re Angela’s friends from high school they said, and we talked about how we knew Angie.  I also talked to them about bowling and asked how good they are.

Luke then showed up at around 5:30, though Nick told him 4:30 since he knew he’d be late.

Brittany C. and Mika showed up next, and they were pretty quiet most of the time and were off by themselves at a table.  Eventually I went over to them and asked if they were bowling in the next round, and Brit said she was but Mika had thrown out his back and shoulder.  Mika seemed like an interesting guy, he wore a black army-type uniform head to toe with a black beret.  It was almost like an Edward Scissorshand outfit though.  They both seemed nice though.

I later met Kate, who was dressed head to toe in a goth outfit.  She wore a shirt that said something about Zombies and a long black denim skirt.  She said she’s a middle school counselor, which is cool.  We talked about bowling and she said she wanted to watch me bowl first so she could copy my form.  I won the last 2 games and lost the first between the 8 or so people that were playing at one time.  The 1st time my score was probably somewhere in the 70s, the second time I broke 100, and the third time I got 119, so I seemed to do better as the night went on.

It was cool getting to meet and talk to a lot of Angela’s friends.  I later met and talked to Dayana too.  I talked to about 8 of them out of 12, which is pretty good since the last couple came later.  So in total, it was an awesome day, and I talked to 10 strangers!  It was weird staying out so late Monday night during the school week, and I’m surprised that it was such a great day!

Berkeley Trip

Today I went to Berkeley to celebrate my friend Gabi’s birthday.  Her dad dropped me, Bonnie, Christa, and Gabi off at the building for the Nano High science lecture at around 9:30am since we left at 9am.  The lecture lasted an hour or so, and was on the topic of plastics and polymers.  Parts of it were interesting, and other parts made me a little sleepy.  Pearl and Aaron surprised us too and joined our group.

Afterwards we went to Sproul Plaza to swing dance (which is a big open space of Berkeley next to a fancy gate, it’s by the student store and golden bear cafe), and people didn’t show up until 12pm or so for the lesson.  I talked to about 7 strangers at swing dance and made small talk about Berkeley.  It was pretty cold outside, but it was still fun.

We saw a group of people African Dancing nearby, which was pretty cool.  Some were banging drums to make the music while others were dancing choreography.

At around 1:30pm we went to Crepes-A-Go-Go to split savory crepes and sweet crepes, which were pretty good.  We got a smoked chicken one that was alright and a chocolate+strawberry (with banana and whipped cream) one.   I think next time I’ll try a different savory crepe and a different sweet crepe.

Then Aaron and Pearl had to leave, so we walked them to BART and parted.  The rest of us continued on to Yogurt Land, where Gabi and Bonnie got some frozen yogurt.  We then wandered around different stores looking for marshmallows and chocolate for s’mores later, and eventually found a store that had both, CVS.  We didn’t end up making them when we got home though because it was sprinkling outside.

Then we took BART back and her dad picked us up from there.  We got back at her house at around 5:30pm, and a bunch of other family friends and friends shouted “Surprise!” and surrounded her with hugs and affection.  She looked pretty happy and I’m glad she seemed to have a really great birthday.  We ate burritos and had cake for dessert.  We also watched some “Pride and Prejudice” and hung out and talked.  I went home around 9:30pm and was pretty tired, but it was a pretty cool day.

Job Shadowing

I job shadowed my dad at his work today(he’s a chemical engineer)!  It was quite an experience.  I had to wake up at 5:45am, and then we left around 6:15am and got there a little after 6:30.  I had to pass through a couple of security places and have my ID checked and get a visitor’s pass.  I finally got to see the place that my dad works in, and it certainly wasn’t what I had pictured.  He had said he works in a trailer, so I imagined us standing inside a big vehicle and him performing chemical tests all day.  But the trailer room was nice, and pretty big actually.  He mostly works in an office all day behind a computer, there’s a lot of paperwork and computer work to being an engineer.  I met and talked to at least a dozen engineers though, which I’ll count for talking to strangers because I went around to each of their offices with my dad and introduced myself and talked to them about their career paths.  Everyone I talked to who was a chemical engineer said they always knew they wanted to do something with math and science, and most of them knew they wanted to be engineers.  With that knowledge, and hearing their daily conversations about chemicals and science type stuff, I now at least know that engineering isn’t for me, at least not chemical.  But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to do any type of engineering because I’m not math and science inclined.  The people I talked to in my dad’s trailer were really great people though.  They were all really nice and friendly, and were happy to talk about careers and majors. They were glad that I was putting so much effort and thought into choosing a career.  I was known as the “tennis extraordinaire” thanks to my dad’s bragging apparently, haha.  I got to talk to my dad a lot that day though, and I asked him lots of questions.  It was a good bonding day.  We talked about things we don’t normally talk about too much and he told me also really appreciated the card Sean and I made for him, which was nice to know because I didn’t know that he had liked it so much.  Now I will try and make something nice for him on his birthday too.

I went to a meeting with my dad at 9:30am and it lasted about a half hour.  A few guys were talking about the refinery for a while and I was pretty lost, but some of the things that were said about how they thought they did in 2010 and how they wanted to improve in 2011 were interesting.  I also went to a lunch meeting at 11:30am with my dad and one of coworkers Sharon, who was really nice and friendly.  We went to a nice restaurant called Jacks to meet with a guy named Tom who was trying to sell them catalysts and they wanted to hear his proposal.  I didn’t understand most of what was said about engineering and h1 this and h2 that, but it was interesting seeing the guy work his persuasion.  He talked to me a little too and about careers and what not.  And at the end he picked up the tab, so it was a pretty good deal!  Free lunch just for listening to the guy’s offer.

All in all I can say it was a good day, and I learned many things.  For one, I learned about what my dad does for a living, and when he was explaining things about how the refinery worked I could tell he was actually passionate about what he was doing.  It seemed like most all of the engineers in his department were enthusiastic and happy about their work too, many of them were laughing and joking around with each other.  The work environment seemed excellent.  I learned that the people you work with and the people you work for can make a huge difference in your career satisfaction and happiness too.  I’ve read that in career books before, but experiencing it and seeing it really proved that point.  I also learned that engineering isn’t for me, although I really liked the people, I don’t think I’m well suited for the work.  I could do it, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it.  I’m not really into science and the people there speak very scientifically when it comes to talking about engineering things.  We got home around 6pm and my mom had spaghetti ready, so it was a pretty good day!

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