The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “self-improvement blog”

Shyness: From Weakness to Strength, and Fears to Excitement

Hello Readers, today I’m sharing a guest post from a lovely 18 year old reader. She resonated with my posts and reached out to share her story with me. Enjoy and feel free to write to her!

Source: http://www.amightygirl.com/courage-roar-wall-quote

Shyness: From Weakness to Strength, and Fears to Excitement

Shyness is something that I know really well. I have lived with it all of my life. I used to think that it was the worst thing about me, but now, I can see that it’s not so bad after all. I can live with it and I don’t have to let it take over my life. Most of the time now, I can talk to people without feeling shy, or scared. I can give oral presentations in class without freaking myself out. I can ask people for help if I need it. Not everything is easy- I still sometimes hesitate a lot before doing something because I feel shy- but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.

It used to be something that affected my life in the most negative way possible. I wasn’t just shy actually, it was more than that. I also had an extreme form of social anxiety called selective mutism. It made me unable to talk in any setting in which I felt uncomfortable. This means that I wasn’t even able to speak in class, chat with my friends, order my own food, etc.

This haunted me until 5th grade, when I finally decided to speak up after I changed schools. But still then, I was labelled as “shy and quiet,”- and I hated it. I didn’t have a lot of friends, only spoke in class if I really had to, kept everything to myself, avoided family gatherings or public events, hated talking on the phone, and panicked so badly at the thought of oral presentations in class.

The turning point came in 10th grade, and that is when I finally decided to change. I joined a volunteering club at school with a friend and forced myself to participate in activities with kids, elderlies, and homeless people. That is when I first realized, “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all. I can interact with people!” I especially enjoyed and felt comfortable with kids. I had such a great experience that that summer, I applied to a volunteering position at a summer camp outside of school. There, I unexpectedly learned not only to interact with kids, but also with the staff and volunteers who also worked there. I had such a good experience that in 11th grade, I decided to continue with the school volunteering club even though my friend wasn’t doing it anymore. I also tried even more activities.

That year was my last year of high school. I was really determined to overcome my shyness. I started feeling okay with doing class presentations. I started talking to more classmates and made more friends as well. I began to talk and ask questions to my teachers when I was unsure of things. Before I left the school, I wanted to show everyone that I wasn’t “just the shy girl” and that I was more than that. I thought that the perfect way of doing this was to perform my best at my last oral presentation and impress everyone. I worked my ass off, but unfortunately, it did not turn out like I expected. My partner let me down, and I was really upset at it. But something good came out of it.

After crying about it for a few hours, I gathered up courage and went to speak with my teacher Ms. S. As it turned out, not only was I allowed to make up for it, but Ms. S was also the first person other than my parents to really notice my shyness, tell me her own experiences, and give me advice on it. She told me that she knows how I feel and that she knows it’s hard to put myself out there, but that if I don’t do it now, it’s going to be even harder later.

And I took her word for it. When I came to Cegep (college), I tried even harder to overcome my shyness. At first, I simply worked at feeling comfortable speaking in English and making new friends. Then when I was a bit more adapted to the school, I started talking to teachers. After that, I also started getting more involved in clubs and activities. Currently, I’m working at talking with more people and just being more open in general. I even voluntarily participated in a Science Fair, became vice-president of two clubs, and joined the public speaking club.

Along the way, I also met a teacher, Ms. R. She became my mentor, helped and supported me, and convinced me that I could go beyond my zone of comfort by doing all these new activities. She even shared her own shyness story with me, and this really surprised me as I never would have ever suspected that she felt shy too sometimes. Once again, like Ms. S, she told me that the only way to “overcome” this was to put yourself out there. And I quote the word “overcome” because it’s not really about overcoming shyness. It’s about learning to control it and deal with it, and not let it take over your life. Whatever you do, you might still feel shy, but you’ll still do it despite the fact that you feel shy. You want it more than you are afraid of it. And once you’ve succeeded at whatever you want to do, you’ll feel so great about it, and it’s simply going to motivate you to do more and strive for the better. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what made me realize that I can be so much more than just “shy and quiet”.

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2015 Has Been an Awesome Year

http://thespiritscience.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/o-HAPPINESS-facebook.jpgTo my surprise, I have accomplished and brought back almost everything I wanted to in my vision board so far. I firmly believe a key part of this success was intention setting- I wanted it to be an awesome year, so I made a specific plan for how I wanted to make it happen.

This year I’ve really cultivated an active lifestyle. I’ve gotten back into dancing regularly, have been playing tennis again with a consistent partner, and I’ve started playing a new sport- ultimate Frisbee. I’ve made an effort to start cooking more of my meals. I have looked out for new experiences, such as going to a mosque to observe a prayer, going to a goth club, and exploring outdoor cliffs barefoot. I’ve developed more of a positive outlook, have reduced my stress, and have increased my compassion for others. Now that I’m in a healthy and stable place, I have been better able to be a rock for others who have not been as fortunate. I’ve learned how to let go of things that weren’t meant for me, even though it is still not easy.

Something that has really helped me get back on my feet is that I’ve started putting myself out of my comfort zone again. I’ve gotten reacquainted with that feeling of discomfort that I get when I first take on something new. Some of the things I’ve been doing have included driving more places and on my own. Even though I still have fears with driving, particularly at night, I have gotten braver with this and have managed to keep calm. Another thing I’ve done is continue to show up to ultimate Frisbee even though I felt like I was one of the worst players there at first; now through consistent practice, I’m a valued player. I also have gone out of my way to participate in class again, and I developed meaningful relationships with two of my professors by going to their office hours. Through adding on a Counseling and Social Change minor as well, I’ve realized that I want to focus my efforts on becoming a counseling psychologist.

I have also prioritized working on and maintaining my mental health this year. I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from doing yoga- it has helped me sleep better, have better posture, and feel much calmer and composed. Recently I’m trying meditation as well to see if I can add in that practice. I feel much more emotionally stable, happier, calmer, and healthier now.

I think having a regular exercise schedule, and making it fun through activities like dance, ultimate Frisbee, and tennis, has really made me a happier person. Occasionally, I do fall back into old patterns and anxiety does creep in, but overall I’ve been doing really well. From here, I would like to focus on babysitting my nephew every two weeks (or at least more often), learning how to be more comfortable on a bike, improving my confidence and voice level, and continuing to work on managing my emotions. I am thinking of making another vision board for the rest of the year for what I would like to add in to my progress. I hope you all have been taking care of yourselves, and that your year has been a good one so far!

Deja vu- The first day all over again

Usually, there is only one first day of school.

For me, however, there were two.

I am taking classes at two different community colleges. I’m doing this so I can get all the classes I want my first semester instead of only having a few options as a new student.

My first day at one of my colleges was great, but how was the first day at my other college going to go?  The butterflies returned at the prospect of having to go through the first day of school all over again.

Soon enough, the time came and I set foot in my first class of my first day at this college, my Career and Life Planning. I was looking forward to it because I think the subject of career choice is fascinating and I’m hoping this class will help me figure out what I want to do. I’ve already done so much research on my own, but I hope I’ll get something helpful out of this class.

I talked to the girl sitting next to me right away, and she was really friendly. In class, an activity started where we had to go around the room and find someone who fits one category on a space, like someone who loves music, or who had a leadership position in school, or who volunteers. It seemed a little silly to me at the time but I know the teacher was just trying to get us all acquainted with each other. I briefly met a majority of my classmates, and even won a candy bar for being one of the first people to turn in my sheet with all the squares filled out with signatures from each person in the class.  Woot!

Next, I headed for my Intro to Sociology class. When I entered through the doors, I saw that every seat in the class was taken. Every seat. I had no choice but to sit on the floor, so I did. Soon others came in and had to stand or find somewhere to sit on the ground as well. The room was packed with people hoping to add her class. The teacher is supposedly one of the best Sociology teachers this college has ever had, and she’s won teacher of the year awards. I was excited at the prospect of getting to learn from her, and was hoping I’d be able to add.

We all waited a little while, but there was no sign of her. But then, the door crashed open and a tall white haired woman charged forcefully down the aisle to the front of the room, yelling for everyone to put away their cell phones, and ranting that if she ever saw one out again she’d kick the person out of the class. Several people looked offended and astounded, or slightly spooked, and I could tell that some people would drop. She continued to say that she would not tolerate any talking once class begun, and anyone who talked while she was talking would be asked to leave. There are no excuses in her class, nothing can be late, and there are no make ups. Her tests consist only of essay questions, because she doesn’t believe in multiple choice tests. There would only be three tests all year, and 3 research papers.

I had read that she tries to scare people away the first day and comes off as really strict and tough, but that she is actually one of the most caring teachers on campus. Her attempt to scare us didn’t work on me, and I happily added my name to the add list when she said anyone who showed up today and wanted to learn she would teach.  I had emailed her before asking to add, and she had first sent back an automatic message that said she had over 100 people requesting to add and that she wasn’t giving out add codes before class.  I wrote back saying that was a ton of people and clearly shows what a sought out teacher she is, and that I was hoping to add but I’d probably have to try again another semester.  I said I was hoping to take her class because I’d heard she was an excellent teacher and I wanted to learn what Sociology was about.  To my surprise, she wrote back saying it was her last semester, and she said to come to the first class and introduce myself and she was sure that I had a pretty good chance of getting in.

I was a little nervous to approach her after the big scary image she had presented of herself, but felt like since I had said I would introduce myself, that I should. After adding my name to the add list, I said, “Hi my name is Brittany, I emailed you over the summer about adding your class, and I said I would introduce myself, so I wanted to be sure and do that.” I held my hand out and we shook hands and she smiled and touched my arm and said she was really glad I made it to her class and was going to add. She asked if I’d gotten the books already and I said that I had, and I was looking forward to her class. It was a nice friendly exchange and probably made a good first impression on her.

Next I had speech class. I started talking to the lady next to me, Heather. On the first day we were given an assignment to interview the person next to us in class, so we ended up interviewing each other and another woman joined our group too since there was an odd number. Heather’s a mom of three teenagers and I learned some miscellaneous facts about her. The following class we would have to introduce our partner to the class, so I tried to find out some things that I thought would be interesting to share.

All in all the first day of this college went well too, though my previous first day was even better in my opinion. It was a good day though and I was glad to be done with both of my first days!

Make New Friends

Public speaking was a great challenge.  It was probably the hardest one yet because being the center of attention like that brings out the natural shyness in many of us.

I honestly did not feel confident that I was going to be able undertake Toastmasters and public speaking.  I’ve always hated presentations and even the word “presentation” or “oral report” was enough to make my stomach churn and my heart race.  In the past I’ve worried weeks before presentations in school and have had trouble sleeping and concentrating on anything else but the presentation.

Of course, I still get nervous for a presentation. I still worry about forgetting what I’m saying or making a fool of myself.  But I’ve gotten a lot better at quieting my negative voice and magnifying my positive voice.  This has definitely helped reduce the time I’ve spent worrying about an upcoming presentation or speech.  I’ve felt less stressed.

Even though I’m moving on to my next goal now, I am continuing with Toastmasters, like I have continued with my other goals.  It is a fairly big time commitment since it is every week, but I know that the benefits of this educational program will be extraordinary.

But now, it is time for another goal.

It’s time…to make new friends.

High school ended.  College is starting.  It’s the prime time for me to move out of my comfort zone and expand my circle of friends.  Several high school friends are moving away, and although several of my friends are still going to be in the area, I think it’s important to meet new people too.

When you go to a four year college, it is supposedly a lot easier to make friends.  You share a dorm room with someone, who could be a potential friend, or who could be a potential nightmare.  You live on campus so you are surrounded by thousands of other people around your age.  There are house parties, clubs and organizations, sports, campus events, and so forth.

Community college, however, is different.  A majority of the students come to school, take their classes, and then head home or off to work.  There aren’t living arrangements on campus.  There aren’t as many campus events, if any.  Making new friends is a little harder.

One of the main reasons why I wanted desperately to go to a four-year school before was to make new friends.  My brother Andrew made a family away from home while he was at UC San Diego.  He is still good friends with many of them today, even though they live in different parts of the country.  My brother Sean spent his first few years at community college, but didn’t really make any friends there.  It wasn’t until he went to Sonoma State that he met Brian, who welcomed him into his large circle of friends.

I realize it’ll be easier to make more friends once I transfer to a four-year school, but I want to make the most of my experience at community college.  I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in the past and I really love getting to know people.  My hope now is that I can make some new friends.  The trouble is, how do I go about doing that?

My main idea is to make at least one friend in each of my classes this semester. I don’t know if I’ll be able to join school clubs where I realize it would be a lot easier to meet people, but I can make friends in my courses.  Since I have little time with six classes and a new job, I’ll have to get creative.  I can meet friends of my new friends.  I can meet friends of my current friends.  I can make my friend search well-known, so people know I am looking to meet new people and would love to be introduced.

College is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings, and I am more than ready to come in with a clean slate.  If I make an effort, I believe it will be possible to make friends at community college.  It’s all about making that first move and seeing where it goes from there.

Who knows who I could meet if I just try?

Brittany the Jokemaster

7-6-11

Tonight turned out to be a great night of Toastmasters!  I was the jokemaster of the evening, and was to tell about two jokes.

I practiced my jokes several times a day until I knew them like the back of my hand and didn’t need any notes.  I even video recorded myself so I could see how my vocal variety and expressions/gestures looked.  If I saw things that I wanted to make better, I would work on them, like the way I used my hands and varied my voice.  I didn’t think I’d be able to memorize both jokes, especially the longer one, but after I realized the rhythm of the jokes it made it much easier to keep them straight in my head.

I didn’t allow myself to get worried about what I was doing the week I was practicing thankfully enough.  Anytime I felt a negative thought try to creep into my head, I immediately blocked it from entering my mind.  It was amazing.  I tried to imagine myself telling my jokes with confidence and a self-assured smile.  I believed that the group would laugh at my jokes and genuinely enjoy them.

At the meeting I was called on to tell my jokes right away, sooner than I expected, and I nervously smiled and shook hands with the Sergeant at Arms.  I hoped I would remember everything and not look at any notes.

It went well, and I didn’t look at my notes at all.  I spoke a little fast at first probably, but I used my gestures and vocal variety that I practiced.  I smiled and sustained eye contact with each separate person longer this time to make them feel like I was really talking to them.

Everyone laughed and clapped, and especially enjoyed the second joke.  I felt flushed afterward and a little shaky once I was back in my seat, but it couldn’t have gone any better.  I did it just like I practiced.

When it was time for the table topics, however, I had a much harder time.  Each person read a line off a Snapple cap that they had to make a 1 – 2 minute speech about.  And just my luck, when I was called up I got a really off the wall one.  It read “Only male turkeys gobble.”  I smiled up at the podium but I had no idea what I would say.  I don’t really know much of anything about turkeys…

I started by repeating the fact, and said “Well what do the females do then?  What noise do they make?” I had no idea what else to say and I think I said an um there, and then decided to talk about having a grandpa who owns a farm (made up) who has turkeys, pigs, and horses.  I talked about how the first time I’d ridden a horse, I was really nervous.  We were in the Mojave Desert and it was very hot, and I was afraid of getting thrown off or something but didn’t have any problems. (true)  I said a few more ums and winged it until I saw the green light signaling I’d reached the required minute and that was good enough for me so I finished.

Everyone clapped, and I thought I did really bad, especially with all the ums, but hey, I did it.  I got a little flushed, embarrassed by my poor performance.

Imagine my surprise when at the end of the meeting it was announced that I won the Best Table Topics Award!  I thought I had no chance of even getting a single vote!  I accepted my award with a look of shock and smiled, and admitted that I really didn’t expect that at all.

I talked to some people afterward about it, Marcy and then later one of the guests who said I did really good and they would have had no idea what to say on that.  I couldn’t believe it, I told them I had no idea what I was saying and thought I did really bad.  Maybe I’m just too hard on myself.

Everyone really liked my jokes, and one of the guests at the end commented that she’ll have to steal my jokes to tell other people and pretend they’re her own, which was a pretty high compliment to me.  Houston made a comment that I was a great storyteller, which made me smile because those are words I’d never thought I’d hear.  Chole told me privately that she was really impressed with me because she was terrified of being the jokemaster and hadn’t done it yet. She thinks no one will laugh at her jokes, which surprised me because she’s one of the best speakers of the club.  The other guest said she was really impressed that all of us were such great speakers and said as she was watching Table Topics she thought she’d have no idea what to say and would make a big fool out of herself.  She said public speaking terrifies her, but she has to make a presentation for work soon so that’s why she’s here.

After hearing that, I knew I had to talk to her and tell her how nervous and intimidated I was when I first came here.  So I talked to her and told how intimidated I felt at first and how I wanted to get the heck out of here because I was so scared, but it’s gotten easier each time I’ve come and I feel more comfortable now.  I told her that everyone’s always so supportive and friendly.  This seemed to reassure her and she said she’d definitely be back then, and I was happy to hear that.

On the way home, I turned up the music and sang my heart out to the songs on the radio and felt a rush of euphoria with my accomplishments for the night!  I never thought I’d say this, but speaking in Toastmasters gives me a rush and I’m excited for more!  I can’t believe how far I’ve come already, this is insane!  Absolutely insane I tell you!

*Here’s one of the practice videos, this one was before going to bed.  This camera makes my voice sound funny and doesn’t sound like me according to my mom, but at least it has sound.

Bringing the Story Game to Table Topics

4th night of Toastmasters  (6-29-11)

On this night of Toastmasters, I was the table topics leader.

My dad kicked off the meeting with two jokes.  He told a golf one and used his arms and gestures to make the joke more animated.  He didn’t look at any notes and I was impressed considering he told me he hadn’t practiced much.  Then the wordmaster explained the word of the evening, languid, and then my name was called to lead the table topics.

I felt nervous the moment I entered the building, and even more nervous as it got closer and closer to my time to stand up before the group and give my little introductory speech.

But I smiled, shook Marcy’s hand, and stood at the podium.  I started off by saying I hoped this wouldn’t be a languid table topics discussion, which got some chuckles.

I said what I had planned to say without looking at my notes, I smiled, I used my arms, and even leveled my voice a little.  The big smiles of my fellow toastmasters put me at ease and comforted me.  Beforehand I had tried to imagine this going well and people enjoying my table topics, and I think that helped.  I practiced in front of the mirror quite a bit too, and once in front of my mom before I left.

I explained what the purpose of table topics is (to practice impromptu speaking) and introduced my topic.  I told them how earlier in the summer I had gone camping and was introduced to a game my friends called “the story game.”  I explained how it worked in detail and summarized it once more to make it as understandable as I could. (*Basically, you’re given three words selected by the audience and have to make up a story using them.)  I then called Houston up to be the first speaker.  She did a great job as she always does.  I then called up another person, one by one, until I had pretty much called on a majority of the group.  If people weren’t called on to speak I at least included them by asking for the three word suggestions for the speakers to use, which got everyone involved during the 15 minute segment.

After each speaker spoke, I led the applause, shook hands with them, picked another person, and asked the audience for three more words.  Everyone really got into it and they all did wonderful.  Some stories made the group roar with laughter and I felt like everyone was really enjoying themselves.

Afterward during the break and at the end of the meeting, I was told that I did an excellent job and that I looked very comfortable up at the podium already.  I received big smiles and Larry (our new president) told the group that was a very innovative table topics, and that he’d never seen anything like that done before.  (Wow!)  He said it was a lot of fun and it involved everyone in the group.  Others told me that they thought that table topics was a lot of fun too, and I was happy to hear that.  I didn’t even know if I should use it for a table topics or not because I didn’t know if telling stories would count as practicing impromptu speeches, but I’m glad I went for it anyway.  I was very happy with myself afterward, and I volunteered to be the jokemaster for the following week.

My dad and I were made official members this night too.  We were presented with a toastmasters pin, card, and certificate.  Everyone had to approve our joining and they all clapped for us at the end.  Several said “Welcome, new members”, with a smile.  I am now an official Toastmaster!

Tackling the #1 Fear in the U.S.

6-1-11

On Wednesday night from 7:30-9:00pm, I went to a Toastmasters meeting for the first time.  Toastmasters is basically a group where people practice and improve their public speaking.

There were about 12 others there besides my dad and me.  We sat around a medium sized table with comfy chairs, and it felt like we were at a conference.

The Sergeant at Arms, Pat, opened the meeting and started with the pledge of allegiance.  He introduced the Joke Master, Saeed, who came up to the podium and told two jokes.  Saeed seemed comfortable speaking in front of the group and he got many laughs.

The Toastmaster of the Evening, Carol, then introduced the guests (me, my dad, and one other woman next to me), explained who had each duty for the night, and introduced the word master, Larry.

Larry explained that the word he picked for each person to use when they came up to the podium was pococurante, which means indifferent or nonchalant.  He got some laughs for his unusual word choice, and I thought it would be really hard to use that word in a sentence on the spot.

Windy came up and explained her role as the Table Topics Master.  Her topic was an auction, and she handed out monopoly money to some of us to use for bidding.  She had three items to be auctioned:  a green set of bathroom scrubbing gloves, a macaroni and cheese box, and a pouch with a screwdriver and some other little tools. She picked on a person one at a time to come up and auction off an item. They all did an excellent job and got us laughing with their creative selling pitches.  The others were trying desperately to outbid each other and were having a lot of fun with it.

The Toastmaster Carol then introduced Marcy as the first speaker.  She had to do a 5-7 minute speech to inform and motivate others to learn something.  Her speech was called “How to improve any relationship in 30 seconds”.   She seemed very comfortable and had such excellent eye contact that you really felt like she was talking to you.

Cholae went next, and had a speech on a bear story in Yosemite.  Her goal was vocal variety she said.  She was very animated and had many facial expressions, and someone said she was like an actress performing a monologue on stage.  She moved around, made good eye contact, and told her story with a lot of enthusiasm.

We had a break for ten minutes after that, so I got some water and talked to Marcy. I told her that I really liked her speech and that it got my interest.  She asked if I’d had any communications classes before and I said no, and that I was here because I wanted to confront my fear of public speaking.  She said this is a good place to do that, and said she was terrified of public speaking when she was my age.  She told me that she studied educational psychology in college and that she’s also an artist, and said many of the people here are artists and writers.  I liked Marcy, and we got along really well.  Some other people came up to us and there was about 6 of us in a circle soon enough.  I was surprised by how easily I fit in with everyone, they’re all at least 40 and above and I was the youngest by far.   It was as if I’d been there all along, and even though I was in the midst of a bunch of strangers, I felt comfortable.   I told Houston I really liked how she sold the macaroni and that she was really funny, and many others agreed that she did amazing.

Then the Sergeant at Arms flicked the lights up and down to signal us to return to our seats.  Two people came up and evaluated the speeches, though there was nothing much to criticize and was mostly positive feedback.

The timer said how long each person took for each part, and if they stayed in range or not.  Most did, with a little bit of time over sometimes.  The Word Master went over how many times the pococurante word was used and if it was used well.  The Grammarian went over the number of ahs and ums, said the speeches were faultless, there were no likes, ahs, or anything, and they did a really good job.  They then asked for comments from guests, so my dad said that everybody did well and all that, and I said that everyone looked really comfortable and I couldn’t tell if they were nervous at all, though they told me that they were on the inside and laughed.  At that, the meeting was adjourned.

I remained at the table with my dad and talked to Larry afterward.  I actually did a water assessment for him before for my internship so we had met already once.  He asked what I thought and if I’d do it, and I told him that I felt pretty intimidated.  Everyone seemed so comfortable, confident, and professional, and I felt like I would look terrible compared to them and there would be so much to criticize.  I wouldn’t be able to not use an um or a so at some point or look at my notes.  My nervousness would show.

Talking to him helped though.  He told me the story of a girl who had come into Toastmasters who at first wouldn’t look anybody in the eye and would talk to them while facing away.  Her first speech she went up to the podium, opened her mouth, and nothing came out.  She opened it again and still nothing could come out.  She then sat back down, and they still evaluated her.  She came back, kept trying, and by the end of it she completed her 10 speeches and was up there at the podium making eye contact and doing really well.  He told me another story of a guy who lost the job to someone else in an interview because the other guy had the Toastmasters certificate and his presentation was better.

He told me that they all have been doing this for years and it just takes time.  He said they’re a very laid back group and they like to have fun, and this is a good environment to practice and will help you with a lot of things in life.  I liked his talk, and I think he convinced me to come again.

I’m scared out of my mind, but I am going to do this.  (I can’t believe I’m doing this.) This is a huge jump, and before the meeting I felt like I could take this, but the fear really kicked in when we were actually there.  I felt so intimidated by the other speakers who were all so comfortable and looked like they enjoyed being up there.  They were funny, charismatic, and confident.  They never said um or ah or so, and no nervousness showed at all.  They seemed like true professionals.  They didn’t really get any criticisms except for a nit picky thing or two that I think was just said because there had to be some sort of criticism.

If I can do this though, I can do anything. (Aaaghh I hate public speaking!!!)

“Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain”.

Wrapping up the Vulnerability and Energy Goal

I’m going to wrap things up with the vulnerability and energy goal now.  I’ve given the link to this blog to my two closest friends, though I think only one has actually read it so far.  Her reaction was good and she didn’t feel sorry for me, didn’t try to give me advice, and nothing really changed.  My imagination of the worst occurring and any of those things happening didn’t come true, and I don’t think I made a bad choice in telling her.  She thinks this project is “badass” of me in that I took one of my toughest insecurities and just owned it by exploring my feelings and learning from them.  She said that she feels so honored, blessed, and happy to be my friend, and lucky to have me in her life.  I’m very appreciative of all this and think it’s really nice to be completely accepted and loved when you show the real you and can just be yourself with someone.

I’ve noticed several changes in me since I started this project.  Recently it’s really been apparent that I raise my hand a lot more than I used to, I dress up when I want to, I open up more about sensitive subjects, and I’m just less worried about what others think in general and have a better self-image.

This past weekend at a college orientation class, I asked a lot of questions when others were quiet.  I didn’t feel nervous speaking among the group and I asked my questions with ease and confidence.  I didn’t leave anything uncertain in my head and asked about everything that I wasn’t sure about.  I feel like I see myself as a talkative and confident person now, and see myself as feeling shy only in certain situations.

I’m taking a summer class too, statistics, whoo!  I’m trying to get another big subject out of the way to make things easier for me later on.  On the first day of stats class, I talked to the people around me easily.  It was a breeze and I didn’t feel awkward since I expected positive results.  I noticed that the cousin of a friend was in the class right away and even though I don’t know her well at all we both recognized each other and I opened my arms for a hug.  I sat nearby to her and met her friend, who I think said his name was Crystal.  To greet me he stuck out his hand wrist flexed down as if to show off his nails, and I wasn’t sure what to do so I just did it back and we laughed and he said hey girrrl in the a soft sweet voice.  I asked the younger teenage girl next to me if she was added into the class already and about the textbook (easy conversation starter for a class), and she sort of answered me in a really low voice that I couldn’t hear and she went back to whispering with her friend and giggling.  I got the vibe that she thought I was weird for trying to talk to her and didn’t want to talk.  Oh well, I tried.  Then a lady probably in her 30s sat down next to me, and I decided to try talking to her instead and asked her similar questions.  She was friendly and talked back fully to me and I’d say we got along well.  I liked her and she had a good, friendly vibe.

The teacher has been great, he is actually really young and has a thick Chinese accent.  He is delightfully geeky and has a great sense of humor; I could definitely see him as being a cartoon character in “Futurama” or something. He is very good at making everything very clear too and goes over several examples until there is no doubt that you understand what he is trying to teach.  He makes everything funny and memorable whenever he can too.  I heard that he’s even got a Ph. D in statistics, so I’m very glad that I was able to add his class and learn from him!

I’ve been working on some multiple goals at once lately as some things have taken longer than I expected.  I’m trying to get involved in a speaking group called Toastmasters but it’s taking longer than I thought to join and it’s only once a week so I won’t be able to write about it that much for a little while.  I’ve also been doing a ton of exercise and have been trying to eat healthy. (There is hardly any junk food in the house and I haven’t baked cookies in a long time, though I might cave in soon!)  I’ve been driving on my own too to get to my stats class and have been taking walks by myself sometimes when I have the time. I can write about those things in more detail soon, sorry I’ve not been the most active blogger lately. It gets harder to blog when you get really busy in the summer!  Thanks for reading!

Graduation Day and Grad Night

Graduation Day was last Saturday and it went well despite the downpour of rain all day. It was the first time it had rained on graduation day in a long time, 100 years maybe? Either that or it had never happened before, I can’t remember. This meant we could only bring 4 people, which upset many people and made me worried as well, but luckily I was able to get some extra tickets from a friend who didn’t need all hers.

I took pictures with friends before the ceremony and it was fun seeing everyone dressed in their blue gowns and caps. The ceremony wasn’t too long and I wasn’t too nervous during it. We listened to a few speeches and listened to some of our classmates perform our senior song, and then we went row by row to get our diplomas (really just empty folders). My heart started beating a little faster as it came closer to my turn to go up to the podium, but when I was actually near the podium, I didn’t feel any nervousness at all strangely. I shook hands with my right and received the folder with my left and smiled for some pictures. I was in the last row so after I and a few others went, the ceremony was over and caps went flying in the air.

At night, I got picked up by my friend Sue who was going to take us to Grad Night. As we walked into the school, I felt like we were in a totally different, happier place. It was like we were in a theme park, not a high school. Luckily the rain had stopped by now so all the outside decorations and activities weren’t ruined. Sue and I played some carnival games first, and then we did this bungee jumping thing where you can do flips on a big trampoline. I didn’t really want to do it honestly and the mere thought of it made me nervous, but Sue really wanted to so I agreed. We waited for a while, and I got more nervous as time wore on. More people came in line with us that we knew and we started talking to them, and it was good to see them but at the same time that meant more people would be watching me when it was my turn. Finally it was Sue’s turn and she jumped up and down a couple of times though she wasn’t able to do any flips. It was my turn then and I managed to do some flips and it was a little scary because I really had to throw my feet over my head and I didn’t always land the best. I felt really dizzy afterward but I was glad that I faced my fear. I thought of the experience as being symbolic for facing more fears to come and doing things that I might otherwise regret not doing when I’m hesitant. I’m trying to live up to my senior quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

Later on in the night we found Annie, Ashleia, and Emily, and we stuck together the rest of the night. I raced Ashleia in an inflatable obstacle course twice and it was a lot of fun and we crashed on top of each other at the end and got all tangled up. The second time we started pulling each other down as we were climbing the inflatable rock wall and we laughed a lot. A group of us later raced each other on motorized toilets in a little race course that was set up, and that was fun even though they were kind of hard to control sometimes. I also did this inflatable jousting battle with Sue and I was victorious. We sang karaoke as a group, and I was happy that they all finally agreed to my suggestion of singing “Man I Feel Like a Woman”! We also played a couple of rounds of bingo and most of my friends won boxer shorts that they wore over their jeans.

Near the end we got our fortune told, and the lady was sort of accurate and sort of not. I’m not sure if I believe her or not, she did get some things right but other things were really off. After that it was time for the hypnotist show, which was crazy and had me laughing so much and I couldn’t believe what was happening. The guy would make people fall asleep just by jerking their hand or telling them to look here then there. Some of the things didn’t work, but a majority did and it was really funny to see people you’d never expect acting the way they did. The best part was when he told the guys that they were female lingerie models and had them walk the runway and strut their stuff. A lot of the guys got really into it, even the ones you’d never expect. Other than that he had them react to all sorts of things like different beliefs about who they were or what the temperature was and what not.

Afterward we all hugged and said goodbyes, and some people started crying. It was a really fun way to end high school, and it was a great night. On the car ride home with Sue it finally hit me that I was never coming back to this place and that our class and friends would never be together like this again. Sue couldn’t believe I was crying but the tears were indeed rolling down my face as I thought about it. We’re all going our separate ways; we’re not going to have each other around like this anymore. I’m going to miss people, especially those who I got closer with this year. But at the same time, it’s time for bigger and better things. Like Hook said, the world is now my oyster, and it’s time for a new beginning. I won’t lose the close friendships I’ve made and it’s not the end. High school was a good experience overall, and I hope college will be fun too. I’ve heard that it’s better than high school, so I’m excited. What was it like for you to finish high school and start college if you did? How did things change?

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