Being yourself is like pooping with the door open: you only do it when you think no one is watching.
Think about it. Under what conditions are you willing to poop with the door open? Unless you have a whole lot of confidence and absolutely no shame, I’m willing to bet you’ll only leave the door ajar if you feel totally comfortable and secure. Like when you’re home alone, or can safely calculate that in the time it takes you to do your business nobody is going to walk by.
Being yourself, sharing your story, and opening up is a lot like pooping with the door open: you’ll only be able to do so when feel comfortable and safe.
Getting comfortable with new people
The problem is, when you go to post-secondary it can sometimes be hard to find time alone. You might live in someone else’s house, or with roommates. You’ll be in a new place, surrounded by new people, and this will take some getting used. You may not be comfortable sharing your story with strangers. Of course, the more you get to know someone the more you’re willing to share.
Getting comfortable with someone is a gradual process. You’d never fart in front of a new acquaintance but you’ll compete with friends to see who can clear a room faster.
How to be yourself in front of an audience
I’ve learned a lot about what I need to feel comfortable telling my story through being a Learning Clicks Ambassador. The first time I did a presentation I was terrified. What do you share with a room full of people that you’ve known for less than 24 hours? I went into that presentation with a full-blown fear of public speaking. Going through my head the entire time were questions like:
“Why are they staring at me? Do I have toothpaste on my shirt? Did I put on deodorant this morning? Where do I look? Can I laugh at my own jokes? Is this story lame? What was I talking about? Will they notice if I just make something up so I don’t look stupid?”
Now, I can walk into a classroom full of students I’ve never met and tell any story I want. I’ve come a long way since that first presentation, and I’m proud to say that public speaking and I have even become friends. It just took some time for me to identify what was getting in the way of me being completely myself, and then to work on getting comfortable.
I realized that no one knew or cared if I messed up because it was my story and I was the one telling it. I also stopped doubting and judging myself, and worrying what other people thought. After all, we are our own worst critics.
New school means new opportunities to meet people
Sure, I’m talking about getting comfortable with public speaking, but think about how you come to feel at ease when meeting new people. You aren’t going to open up right away and that’s totally OK! Meeting new people is hard—we have to figure out who they are, what relation they have to us, and what our boundaries are. We might say something just to gauge the other person’s reaction.
By testing boundaries in this way, we try to figure out who we can swap stories with candidly and who we’d rather keep at a distance.
Advice from Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Opening up, being yourself, and sharing your story will help you to discover who supports you and who isn’t worth your time. In a major transition period like moving from high school to post-secondary, you have an opportunity to reflect on what you need to feel comfortable.
Think of this transition period as a time to start fresh, to work on being comfortable in your own skin, and to seek out supportive relationships with people you feel comfortable sharing your story with.
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