The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “college”

First Debut in Interviewing

Although I’ve had several jobs before, I’ve never had to actually interview for a position.  I’ve always known someone who was leaving a job or have been a part of a program that led to a job. Last Friday, however, I had my first job interview.

I applied for a job at my community college as a basic skills tutor for students with intellectual disabilities.  I loved the mission of the program to help these students on their path to a fulfilling career.  As a loving sister to a brother with learning disabilities and epilepsy, I thought the work would be very rewarding and meaningful to me.  So I edited the resume and cover letter I had made for a general tutoring position in my previous Career & Life Planning class, and showed up to the junior college to fill out an application.

Soon enough, I received an email saying my application had been received and that I would be contacted at the end of the week.  Well, a week went by and I had heard nothing, so naturally I began to worry a little.  I wasn’t quite sure what I should do, but I sent a reply to check-in to make sure nothing else was needed from me and that everything I had submitted was complete.  Shortly after that, my phone rang.

I recognized that it was the tutoring program calling me, and I tried to compose myself and get my head together before answering.  After getting rear-ended and having to take my car in for a week, I wasn’t sure of my schedule until I got my car back and didn’t have a clear picture in my mind of what days I’d be free to interview.  Luckily, however, the woman asked if I could come in for an interview on Friday at 9am (a day I didn’t have class), which kept me from having to think through my school schedule. I enthusiastically agreed and thanked her for calling.

In preparation for the interview, I wrote out possible questions I thought I would be asked and detailed responses.  I made flash cards and looked them over and practiced several times.  I even had my friend Hayley do a mock interview with me 2 or 3 times, and although it was a little hard to get into at first and get over my embarrassment, it was very helpful.  She caught that I was ending some sentences without inflection, so I worked on that until I ended my sentences on a firm note.  She noted when I was looking away, and I worked on making better eye contact.  So by the time Friday came around, I felt more than ready.  That didn’t keep me from getting nervous the night before, but at least the actual day of the interview I felt fairly calm and confident.

The interview went well.  The questions weren’t what I had expected, but I was able to use the answers I had formed in my mind about similar questions in response to these questions.  I wish I had been asked some questions that had allowed me to talk about some of my accomplishments or personal traits, but the interview was very skill-focused as it came to tutoring.  I left feeling good about the interview, and relieved that it was over.  Hayley and I each got a donut to celebrate.

On Monday, I found out that I didn’t get the job.  I was disappointed, but considering it was my first interview, I didn’t feel too discouraged.  My head did begin to spin as to what had gone wrong though, making me wonder if I hadn’t appeared confident enough, if my voice had come off too soft, or if I hadn’t done a good enough job with the mock tutoring portion.  I thanked the woman for letting me know, and asked if she could give me some feedback on how I could improve for the future.  Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my interview, as she said I interviewed wonderfully.  She said they had a great pool of applicants but ultimately decided to go with someone with a little more experience with this population and a little more teaching experience.  I thanked her for letting me know that, and felt better knowing why I hadn’t gotten the position.  It does seem like a bit of an oxymoron to me that to get experience we have to have experience, especially people around my age who are still very much in the learning of skills stage, but that is how it seems to go.  I plan on checking out some other possible work and volunteer opportunities, as I would like to go through some more interviews again and gain more experience in this area.

If any of you have any thoughts on interviewing or any experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!  As some of you may know, I just started a Facebook page here if you would like to follow me.  Also, I just got an article published on Susan Cain’s Power of Introverts website here that you may like to read as well. Thanks again for reading my blog and making this an interactive space.

Collisions and Phone Calls

My first day of school started with a bang.

Literally.

For the first time, I was rear-ended on the freeway.  I was alone in the car and was on my way to my apartment before school started.  In my rearview mirror I noticed the silver car speed behind me, accelerating too fast to slow for the traffic, getting too close to me, and I thought please don’t hit me. Brakelights. Then, WHAM!

My mind shut down for a moment.  What just happened?  Did I really just get hit?  Yeah.  What do I do now? 

I saw the driver behind me switch lanes and edge toward the shoulder.  Dazed, I tried to follow her, but as I tried to get over to the right lane, an impatient driver sped through that lane around me, causing me to swerve back to the left to stay in my lane.  Soon enough, a bus in the right lane slowed for me so I could get over, and I did, pulling to the shoulder.

We got out of our cars slowly, nervous to approach one another.  She immediately admitted fault saying it was all her.  I said I was a little shaken up and had never been in an accident like this before.  We exchanged all the necessary info, noted the damage to my bumper, and then returned to our respective cars and went on our business.  I felt very wary behind the wheel afterward, and stayed in the right lane until I got back to my apartment to call my mom.  She advised me to call the insurance company right away and report the claim, and even though I wasn’t eager to get on the phone with them, I did.  No one answered though so I left a message and headed out to my first day of class this semester.

At school, I managed to talk to and introduce myself to one person next to me, one of the few females in the Criminal Justice class.  I told her about my morning with the accident and she said that her friend got hit on her 21st birthday before.  We talked about our majors and career ideas; she wants to be a police officer.  I thought of asking her if she wanted to exchange contact info, but I was afraid of asking too soon so I didn’t.  I don’t truly feel like I’ve made a friend in class until we’ve switched numbers and emails, and I usually do that right away, but there are times when I have a harder time asking.  I’m planning to do that soon though. That was my only class for the day, so I headed home after that.

One of the main reasons I’ve always had some fears with driving is because I’ve feared getting in an accident.  Well, that finally happened, but luckily this experience wasn’t too terrifying and I didn’t get hurt.  What I’ve realized though, is that the number of phone calls you have to make afterward is one of the worst parts.  I had to make and receive a lot of calls throughout the week and the week after with the insurance company and the estimate place.  I found this to be very draining, and I got quite stressed some days from being on the phone so much all day, relaying what happened.  But when I had to call people, I did it in front of one of my close friends, and I did it right away, which is something I’d learned to be helpful from my 2011 Phone Phobia experiment in my Shyness Project.  I wouldn’t allow myself the time to think or worry about what I was doing, which made it easier to call even though I still dislike doing it.  The people I talked to were very nice though and seemed genuinely concerned that I was ok after the accident.  After I finished calling the insurance company for the last time at the end of the week, one of my close friends helped de-stress me by doing a silly thing with a cookie. She tried to inch the cookie down her forehead and into her mouth, which was quite amusing to watch, even more so when my other close friend tried doing it too.  I laughed and felt more relaxed, grateful that the accident wasn’t fatal and my life hadn’t been changed for the worse that morning.

Making Friends In Class Again

Last semester, I didn’t make a whole lot of new friends.  I did, however, become closer friends to the people I had met before in this area, thanks to the fact that I now live a matter of minutes away from them versus an hour and a half.  I got to know one dance friend whom I’d always thought was really nice much better, and we spend a lot more time hanging out now.  I also started carpooling with another dance friend, and we shared a lot about ourselves during our car rides and became much closer than I expected.  I hope we remain good friends even though we can’t carpool this semester.  I also became very close to the person I dated, and we’ve remained close since.  I did manage to make one friend in my Accounting class as well, which was really nice because he was very helpful throughout the school year and made the class much more enjoyable.

This semester I would like to do a better job of making friends through my classes though.  My mom suggested I try and have at least a 3 minute conversation with one new person per day, but I think that would be too much for me.  I do have the mindset that I will try to talk to and get to know at least two people every time I’m at an event or social setting though.  And I do want to try and make at least one, preferably two, friends in each of my classes.  I’ve noticed that I enjoy a class much more when I have a friendly face to talk to each class period.  It’s hard to make the initial “move” to talk to someone new, but almost every time I’ve done it, I’ve been glad I did and the other person is appreciative and receptive.  I just need to remind myself of this when the nerves overwhelm me and keep me from getting someone’s attention to introduce myself.  I’ve been through this many times before though, so I know I am capable and know it just requires saying something, no matter if it’s a question about the homework, the textbook, or the class in general.  As the picture says, I will put myself out there this school semester!

I’ve Been Missing In Action but I’ve been Growing!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and have been on WordPress, as you all have noticed I’m sure.  In my last post I discussed how I was wrapping up my first year of community college.  Well, it’s November now and I am in my second year of community college and have been living away from home in an apartment with friends as of a few months.  In this short period of time I have grown a lot and have become more independent, and have faced some of my fears and learned that they weren’t as bad as I thought they would be.  For one, I’ve been driving a lot more on my own than I used to.  Granted, it’s been a lot easier because I have a GPS I can use now, but I’m a lot less hesitant to go out somewhere I’ve never been before.  I’ve gotten lost a few times, but I’ve managed to turn myself around and find my way even when the GPS loses reception.  I’m proud of myself for that, and I do feel a lot more independent and capable.  Sometimes I really enjoy driving even, especially when the songs are good on the radio.

Living in another city for the first time has been a learning experience as well.  I only moved about an hour and a half away from home, but considering I’ve always lived in the same small town for the past 19 years of my life, it’s been a significant experience for me.  Thanks to swing dancing, I already knew a lot of people here, but I’ve also made some new friends and overall I’ve been very happy.

I also entered my first full-on relationship several months ago, which is something I didn’t think I would be ready to do because I had had some bad experiences with dating in the past that had made me hesitant to get involved.  Even though it is over now, I had a great experience and learned a lot from getting to know someone on that deeper level.  The experience showed me that dating could be fun and that your friendship with the person can still be maintained afterward if you ended on good terms.  Dating can certainly still be a little scary, but I definitely have a better perspective on it than I did before. On reflection, I think it’s amazing how much our initial experiences can shape our views, and I’m glad that my perspective has finally shifted in this area.

Again, sorry for not keeping this blog up-to-date these past few months, but I hope you all have been doing well and have experienced some personal growth over this time too!   If you’ve learned anything new or feel like you’ve improved in one area of your life, please tell me about it in the comments or in an email as I’d love to hear about it.  Enjoy your week!

Second Semester of College: Almost Complete

Well my second semester of college will be completed in less than two weeks.  2012 is certainly flying by; I can’t believe it’s May already.  It’s been an emotional and stressful year so far for me, but I’ve learned a lot from it.

I gave a presentation in women’s history class last Thursday which I was nervous about since I hadn’t had to do much of any public speaking in months, but it went really well.  Somehow I managed to not get panicky before my turn to present and spoke with ease and confidence, and made the class laugh too.  I’m glad that my speaking ability hasn’t diminished since I haven’t been up in front of anyone in a while.

I had to give a little presentation in my cinema class the week before too, which wasn’t a big deal to me either.  The girl behind me though came in late to class as we were watching a movie, and at the end the instructor asked her to give her presentation.  I could tell she was caught off guard and I heard her voice shaking and trembling like she was about to cry or have some sort of anxiety attack so I turned around quick and said, “Hey, would you rather do it next week?”  She nodded, so I called over to the professor, “Can she do it next week?”  He said sure (he’s a nice guy and a lot of people have been giving their presentations later than planned) and asked if she could give it Monday at 9 and she whispered, “Yes sir”, but he didn’t hear her so I told him that would be good.  She looked relieved and the instructor seemed to pick up on what was going on too and seemed glad that I was looking out for her.  It’s cool to be on the opposite side of things now and to help people out who have fears of speaking in front of the class.  Hopefully she will be ready to give her presentation this week and she won’t skip class because of it, but I had a feeling that if she had to give it that day that she might burst into tears up there or have some kind of anxiety attack.

Other than that I’ve been doing good.  I’ve been learning more about myself this year and am getting a better idea about what I want in life.  In August I’ll be moving out on my own with some friends to take classes at a different community college, so that will be exciting.  I think it will be a great experience for me.  Hope you are all doing well!

When Times are Tough

I know it’s been a while since I have posted.  I will admit it’s been a lot harder for me to keep up this blog this year than it was last year.  I still want to try and keep it up, though my focus has been elsewhere from shyness and it is more difficult to find things I want to write about.

There are times when things aren’t going well in life and can be really frustrating.  This is one of those times, and though I try to stay optimistic and hopeful that things will get better soon, it’s hard.

I’ve been taking care of myself though, running or walking daily, talking to friends and family, and writing a lot in my journal.  I will be ok and don’t want anyone to worry though. It’s just a tough time.

I have made two community college friends this year, though have only hung out with one of them outside of class, Kim.  I like how she isn’t afraid to ask me random questions when we’re together and we can just ask each other about ourselves.  We played tennis recently and she told me she’s in her second year of community college but I’m the first friend she’s made there.  She thinks it’s hard to meet people and that most people in community college aren’t as friendly as me.  I was really honored and was glad to be her first community college friend.

The other friend I made was a girl named Kelly from my very monotonous History class.  I originally sat next to a group of obnoxious girls and boys, but the next class I decided to choose a new place to sit and tried sitting next to this girl.  She was furiously solving a Rubik’s cube as I sat down, and I wondered if  she would be too absorbed in her cube to talk to me.   After she finished solving the cube and set it down, I asked her about when the history essay was due though.  She smiled and said not for a while.  I then asked her about the Rubik’s cube and if she had it memorized how to solve it and she said she had.  She was really smiley and nice and went into that and how she had gotten into Rubik’s cubes a lot lately.  We talked more on that.  She brought out her laptop then which apparently has a kindle on there and games. The laptop was a graduation present, and it turns out we graduated high school the same year.  I was thinking of when I would introduce myself and say my name and if I should wait when she smiled and said, “My name’s Kelly.” And I told her my name from there.  She asked if I had read the Hunger Games and I said I hadn’t, and she really recommended them, and then we got on the subject of Harry Potter.  She was really friendly and it made the class so much more enjoyable. The actual lecture was still very boring though, but it was nice to have made a friend to get through it with.

Meeting New People On the First Day of Class

About two weeks ago I had my first day of school at the other college I take classes from.  The day started out stressful because I couldn’t find a parking space despite getting there 50 minutes early. Eventually, I just ended up driving across the street and parking in the overflow lot.

I hurried to my class, and found the building right away, though I did have to ask someone where the room was.  When I got there, there were some people waiting outside.  I stood there with them for a bit too.  Finally I decided to walk towards a girl and start talking to her.  I asked if she was waiting for the Abnormal Psychology class to start.  She said she was, and I asked whether she was taking it for a GE or for fun and talked about the crazy parking.  It was difficult talking to her though.  I was asking questions, but she wasn’t asking anything back, and she didn’t seem like she really wanted to talk or be friendly.  It was a little frustrating.  Then the door opened and people started filing in to the room.

I had noticed a girl who was standing by herself quietly, and had a hat on her head and seemed like an artistic person for some reason.  I thought I could either keep trying to talk to this girl who wasn’t all that friendly and didn’t seem to want to be friends, or I could try talking to someone else.  I decided to start over and talk to someone else.  The seats were paired up so I took the seat near the back next to the artistic looking girl which was also nearby the other girl.

I got my textbook out (as it’s a good conversation starter) and put it on my desk.  I thought of what I could say to the girl next to me to start a conversation.  I felt a little self-conscious about trying to talk with the new girl while having the other girl right there who kind of brushed me off.  But luckily, as I was thinking over my options, the artistic girl pointed to my book and asked, “How much did the book cost?”

Yes!  She wants to start a conversation with me!

I smiled and said I got it off Amazon and went into that. I introduced myself too and offered my hand, and she said her name is Kim.  (I quickly wrote her name down right away because I hate forgetting people’s names, and wrote my name in the top right corner of my notebook too so she could see it.)  I asked her if she was taking the class for a GE and found out that she wants to major in psychology actually and loves it.  I told her I love it too and am considering that and Sociology for a major.  I also went into how I’m thinking about Occupational Therapy.  We then talked about the parking and our schedules and what other classes we had, and she was really friendly and sweet.  She asked me a lot of questions and I asked her questions back too.  Often I feel like an interrogator the first time I meet someone because I ask more questions about them than I get asked in return, but this time I could tell she totally wanted to befriend me.  We both enjoyed the class and liked the professor.  We exchanged numbers and at the end she waited for me to gather my stuff and asked where my next class was.  I said it was in the Liberal Arts building, and she said hers was too, so I said we should walk together.  We did and talked and it was nice.  She asked me if I like the cold and I said not really, and neither does she.  We talked about the high schools we went to, and I said how I had played tennis matches against the tennis players at her school and they were a really good team, and she said she plays badminton.  Then when we got to our class we parted ways and said we’d see each other Thursday.  It was a great start to my day and it was so nice to meet someone so friendly and eager to know more about me.

Then I had Women’s US History 1877 – present.  A lot of desks were already taken and I had to make a quick decision of where to sit, so I chose a seat next to a girl with her phone out.  I try and pick random people to talk to and usually just pick a seat that’s going to put me around several people and go for it.  She had a straight face and I couldn’t read if she’d want to talk to me or not, but I decided to ask “This is the women’s history class right?” and she smiled right away and said yeah it was and she wasn’t sure about that at first either.  From there we talked a lot about the crazy parking, expensive bridge toll I have to pay each day, the parking fee, about other classes and teachers we had that we really liked.  She was very outgoing and was very eager to talk to me.  I’m glad I broke the ice and found that out.  Her name is Priscilla.  The teacher for the class seems awesome- she wore a black and white checkered skirt with tights, and a bright red and white blouse.  The front bangs of her short hair are dyed blue too even though she’s probably a 40ish or so aged woman.  I could tell I was going to like her already.  She was nice too and was really into having us use creativity with our assignments.

Then I had US History before 1877.  I went into the class and there weren’t many people there so I just took a random seat in the second row near the middle.  Sometimes I like to leave it up to chance who will sit next to me instead of picking out someone to sit next to.  Usually that works out ok.  This time, it didn’t.  Two girls who were already friends came in and started planning where they could sit so they could have their two guy friends sit nearby.  They took the two seats in front of me, then had their guy friends sit behind them in the seats next to me.  They were really loud and disrespectful, and reminded me of how some of the “popular” people in high school would act.  They were putting their heads down and didn’t do the writing assignment, and when some people would speak up they would mock them quietly to each other.  It was really irritating sitting next to them.  I tried talking to the girl next to me a little, but she was kind of hard to talk to because I don’t think she knows much English.  She seemed to kind of want to keep to herself too and didn’t seem interested in talking.  The teacher was kind of monotone also, but he seems like a gentle spirit at least.

It was a great day overall though!  It was nice meeting different people and breaking the ice with them.

Trying Salsa and Latin Dancing for the First Time

One of my plans in trying new things was to sign up for a Salsa & Latin Dancing class.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of this class, but from what I’d seen on Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance I knew it would probably be a little out of my comfort zone.  I expected a lot of shimmying and shaking to say the least.

I figured I could handle it though, and my love for dance would get me through any moves I might find out of my element.  I’m an avid swing dancer, but salsa and Latin dancing were completely new to me.

And as it turns out, for a while I actually preferred my Latin dancing class over my West Coast swing class!  I really enjoyed the music and the movement, and surprisingly was better at moving my hips and getting into the rhythm than I thought.

It’s been a lot of fun learning Latin dancing, and has been a great workout as well.  So far I’ve learned Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Rumba, and Cha-Cha.  They’re all pretty fun, and Rumba is a nice break from all the faster dances.  My swing background has actually carried over to the Latin Dancing a bit too, and funnily enough some of the more advanced people in the class are convinced I’ve done this type of dancing before!  I’m just a quick learner.

At some point I am hoping to try going out to a salsa club and seeing what it’s like on the real dance floor.  Should be interesting!

Looking Glass Self: What you see is what you get

There’s a theory in sociology called “looking glass self”.

This theory basically states that we are socialized to accept the judgment of others and reflect it back to others.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone. You notice that the people look at you with friendly faces and appear to like you.  So in response, you act friendly and smile back at them.

You have a positive experience because you have a positive perception.

On the other hand, what if the opposite occurs?  What if you notice that people are looking at you with blank faces, and seem to be whispering about you and judging you?  In return you may act defensive, hang back, and give off signals that you don’t like them either.

Perceptions can be wrong.  But all we have to go by are our perceptions.

And because of this, I have found that being in the right mindset is extremely important in making friends.

I’ve heard some of my former high school classmates who are going to the same school as I am directly say that the people there aren’t friendly.  They’re mean and they stare at you.  And I’ve read status updates on Facebook of people who say that they feel so lonely at this school because they don’t know anyone, and they haven’t made any friends.

These remarks were a total surprise to me.  I’m going to the exact same school as them, so how could I have had such a completely different experience?  I had an amazing first week of school, and made several friends.  I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to talk to anybody in the school and become friends with them.  It was a whole new ball park for me, and was nothing like the cliquey and divided high school I attended.

Why was my experience so different from several of my former classmates?

Without a doubt, it was because my perceptions were different.  In my eager pursuit of seeking out new friends, I unknowingly had the perception that each person I approached was friendly and just as hopeful to make friends as I was.

And you know what?  That perception turned out to be very true.  Every time I mentioned that I was hoping to meet new people and make new friends, the person I had started talking to said that they wanted to do the very same thing.

I know making friends isn’t always easy.  I had to initiate a majority of the friendships I’ve made, but all it took was for me to open my mouth and say something to them, anything.  In my experience, asking a question has been the easiest way to start a conversation.   In particular, during the first week of school it is very easy to ask someone a question, like “Is this the textbook we need?” or “This is speech class with Mrs. East right?”  And from there, you can introduce yourself, they’ll introduce themselves, and then you can talk about college and majors if you like.  If you don’t know someone and you’re in a certain setting like school, talking about that setting is a great way to get talking.  And by the end of the conversation, all you have to do is ask to exchange contact information.  Facebook is a great way to go, and cell numbers work well too.  Then be sure to keep in touch with them, and before you know it, you’ve made a friend!  Simple as that.

When you hold a positive perception that people are friendly, then you are going to get positive results back.  So be sure to take notice of how you’re viewing a situation or a group of people, because your perceptions have more power in determining your experiences than you may realize.

The Secret Note

A lot has happened since the first week of school, and it would take several posts to go over it all, so I’ll give an overview.

Basically, college has been great.  Even though it’s community college, I’ve managed to make several friends and I’m meeting some interesting people (interesting in a good way!).  I’ve hung out with a few of them outside of class after initiating we do so through a text or at school and what not, and that’s brought me closer to them.  Yuli, K, and Johanna I’ve all gotten to hang out with outside of school and I like them a lot.  I’m making several friendships in each of my classes and have made an effort to talk to as many people around me as I can.  Some of those people I may not become close friends with, but it’s good to have a friendly classroom relationship with them I think.  Facebook has been of course helpful for getting to know some of them better.

I’ve found that the few times I’ve been on my own for lunch, I can’t help but want to talk to the people around me.  It’s like I’m in “friend mode” all the time now and I can’t turn it off.  Even when it’s a quiet area like a study hall, I secretly hope someone will not be too invested in their homework and will try to talk to me.  It’s kind of funny.

The first time I sat on my own at a table I witnessed a guy come out of the cafeteria with a lunch he just bought and ask to sit down at a table where a girl was sitting doing her homework.  She smiled and said of course.  He sat there quietly, munching on his lunch.  She kept studying. At the end, when he finished his lunch and packed up to leave, he slipped a piece of paper over to her, and walked away.  I couldn’t help but watch her open it. I saw her expression change from a neutral look to a big smile and she laughed out loud and shook her head and just kept smiling, and reached for her phone to text her friend.

What did the note say?  Did he compliment her?  Did he leave his number?  Did he thank her for allowing him to sit with her or wish her luck with her test?  I wondered what the note said and smiled, feeling very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to see that.  The note seemed to totally make her day and it was so cute to witness.  I got the feeling that it was just a friendly message meant to brighten her day, and I just thought that was really cool.  I wouldn’t have minded if he had sat next to me!

Then a girl comes and asks if she can sit next to me, and excited I say “Please do!” She sits next to me, and I keep fumbling through my notes for a little while, and she looks at her phone.  Inspired by the incident I just witnessed, I start talking to her, asking her about the pizza that she got to start.  She was friendly and it was easy to keep talking to her, and we talked about college related things a while.  Afterward she said it was really nice talking to me, and I resisted the urge to ask to swap facebooks, and simply said it was nice talking to her too.

That is just one story of many, but I do need to get on to a new goal soon so I won’t be able to post a lot of the other ones.  I am planning to write a *book* though and will be able to include a lot more in there!   The new year is approaching quickly, and 2011 is coming to a close.  It went by so fast!

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