Fake It ‘Till You Make It

I call it the Introvert’s Dilemma  (#692) … the “Everyone’s-Looking-at-Me-and-is-Judging-Me-and-is-Going-to-Interrogate-Me-and-If-I-Don’t-Have-the-Right-Answers-They-Will-Evict-Me-From-The-Human-Race” syndrome.

As introverts live so much inside their own heads, they conduct most interactions with imagined versions of the people they may (or may not) encounter. As a result, they often overestimate how invested the other party is in any given situation, because they are playing both roles… and fully committing to them. Trust me, I have played entire 3rd Acts in my head for which I deserve a Tony.

However, reality rarely measures up, and if we are not disappointed by the other person, we are often relieved at how BRIEF the actual interaction is. This is especially true when ordering food at a restaurant, conducting business at the post office, and going in to speak to one’s supervisor when they call you into the office.

However, although survival in these circumstances is worth celebrating, is it any wonder that most introverts (myself included) then feel the need to retreat and recharge? After all, 90% of my energy was spent in the hour before I went somewhere: I conducted 15 interviews in my head, mentally repeated the facts 50 times, anticipated the joke I would tell if the situation became awkward, AND had Exit Strategies Alpha through Echo all ready to go.

… and all that was even before I triple-checked my look in the mirror.

Despair not, for I have found that the solution to curtailing this massive waste of energy is to pretend like I know exactly what I am doing.

You see, as I mentioned earlier, most human beings we encounter daily do not give two figs about “the other guy”. As my dear colleague quips, “Copernicus called; You are NOT the center of the universe.”  And you know what, fellow introverts? THAT’S GREAT!

The truth is, the more I look nervous, the more I fidget at a party, the longer it takes me to say “Hello” … the more attention I draw to myself. However, if I stroll into a reception with my head held high, shoulders back, and smiling… people tend to leave me alone because they assume I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what I do. And, because I have my eyes open instead of glued to the floor, I am better prepared to exchange a greeting with someone else or accept their offer of a drink (or, as much as one may wish to avoid it, a hug).

This is true not only in social settings, but also business ones… people respond to good carriage; in fact, they admire it. I don’t know why… probably some innate biological response that says: “this lion knows how to stalk about properly; I don’t think I’ll try to eat her.”

Thankfully, my training as a singer has enabled me to conquer my inclination, as a tall girl, to slump… and as I progress in my profession, I am  thankful for it. Whereas I used to be very self-conscious of being taller than the boys in school, when I wear high heels now I get compliments from the women and men (over whom I am towering) alike.

It’s simple:

* Shoulders back

* Chest slightly elevated

* Spine straight

* Eyes forward

* Move with purpose

Not only will you look better but, because you are opening up your airways, you will literally breathe better and think more clearly (oxygen to the brain and all that).

Is it work? At first, until your body remembers how good it makes you feel, and then you will start to make these physical adjustments reflexively.

In any case, it is a far more valuable investment of your time than rehearsing for the encore performance of  “Chow Mei–wait, I  Meant Fried Rice! and Orange Chicken.”

Let’s Keep in Touch

When screaming into the void, isn’t it nice to think sound still echoes?

As a former military brat, the concept of “home” to me is… vague (at best). I don’t have a hometown; my elementary school chums would stare blankly at my Facebook profile were you to show it to them; when I go “home” it’s to wherever my family happens to be at the moment. I can’t remark on who lived on this street or where I used to go after school every day…

Impermanence is emblazoned somewhere on my coat of arms, I am certain.

Yet, in spite of the constant upheaval in my life, what keeps me grounded are those rare friends who, by some miracle, have decided that absence is not a barrier to communication. These are very special people; people who take the time to sit down and write cards; people who are brave enough to send me texts because “hey, I was thinking about you the other day.”

And to those people, I say THANK YOU.

As I mentioned earlier, “home” is where family is; in the last year, my little family has found itself broken and scattered about. We’re, all of us, trying to find “home.”

My life is so far removed from what it once was that some days it feels like my memories happened to someone else.

Thankfully, friends are the co-guardians of our past; they are the proof and protectors of those distant times (I’m not even 30, I know… but hey, I get this). They remind me of when I made them laugh, of when they made my smile, and when tears were shed together rather than in isolation.

I had originally intended to write about “silence”. In spite of the comfort silence can afford, I find nothing to be more disconcerting than sending out a message and receiving no signal that is was received; no acknowledgement that the other party in question cares about what I have to say.

It’s demoralizing… I hate that feeling of being ignored. Especially by someone for whom I care. However, I have resolved not to let silence deter me from making my feelings known. After all, when I am at my lowest, a kind word is a tonic; a message from a friend… can almost be a resurrection. Why should I not offer the same?

I don’ think we should be afraid, as we so often are, of saying “hey, I care about you, you dork* (*as in any exchange, know your audience).” Yet, at some point in our histories, we started to believe that an expression of this nature comes with a price; something must then be expected of the receiver, right? Kindness doesn’t come cheap?

Rubbish. If someone places a price on affection, drop ’em like the proverbial hot potato…it’s not worth burning your tongue for a taste of the sour-cream-smothered feast.

That being said, please do take two seconds somewhere in your day to respond with an initial “Thanks!” or “You too!” Silence is not golden; imagine if you complimented your friend’s shirt and they just stared at you, eyes distant and glassy… creepy.

So to those of you who are listening: You are the best. Thank you for being here for me. If I can ever help you (in any way that doesn’t result in jail or imminent death), please let me know.

Ta ta for now…