When I was in my twenties and early thirties I carried around more than just weight. I was painfully shy and felt out of place in my own skin. That, combined with the fact that I also had no self esteem made me feel invisible to others. I would avoid social situations like the plague.
When I did have to attend an event and was introduced to someone I’d never met before, this is how I imagine it went:
MY THOUGHTS: she’s not going to find me interesting. I should just keep my mouth shut.
HER THOUGHTS: It’s like she’s pretending I’m not even here.
MY THOUGHTS: I’d just say something stupid.
HER THOUGHTS: What, she thinks she’s too good to talk to me?
MY THOUGHTS: Maybe if I just talk to people I know, I can hide the fact that I want to crawl under a rock.
HER THOUGHTS: Wow, she is really stuck up.
Of course, I didn’t realize that I was coming across as pretentious or stuck-up. I actually thought that I was so unimportant, so invisible, no one would notice if I didn’t speak. Those feelings obviously haunt me, even today.
Just last week, I was at Sephora. I don’t like to go in there because I can get a tad overwhelmed sometimes. I cannot explain why. Maybe I’m subconsciously intimidated by all of the makeup tools they carry in their front pockets. Maybe it’s because they all wear black and therefore look as skinny as a beanpole. Who knows.
Anyway, I had been in the week before and one of the sales consultants remembered me. ‘Me?’ I thought. She must be confusing me with someone else. ‘No, see…I was here looking for something but it was out of stock and I just wanted to come back and see if……’ Before I’d finished she said, ‘Yeah, wasn’t it shampoo you were looking for?’ I was stunned.
You know what the most unsettling part for me was? On my way home, I tried to reason with myself as to why she remembered me. She must be in this type of job because of her memory. Yes. She has an exceptional memory. And she has exceptional sales ability. She is special.
That is a possibility. Maybe the average sales person wouldn’t have remembered me. But why should I always assume that’s true? Why do I feel like I should I have a face that is so mundane and unremarkable that it isn’t worth remembering?
There was a study done a while ago that has always stuck with me – I don’t remember any detailed facts about it at the moment but it went something like this:
Two women walked into a social setting. One woman was stunning to look at but her personality lacked character, depth and interest. Another woman entered the same social setting; she was average-looking. However, her personality was warm, inviting, and it drew people to her. When asked which was the more attractive of the two women, the respondents replied that the average-looking woman was considerably more pleasing. Her personality, charm, the way she carried herself made her more physically appealing to those around her.
I have been thinking a lot about last week’s comfort zone challenge. I received a lot of great feedback from people who gave me advice on how to better approach people. Shantell mentioned smiling more and offering a compliment as a conversation starter. These are great pieces of advice. But in order to try these things, I have to believe I can do them. And that day, I didn’t.
Here is the truth, plain and simple: My comfort zone challenge fizzled last week because I did not exude any confidence in myself. It wasn’t because I didn’t do anything to my hair; and it had nothing to do with the fact that I had on no makeup, either. I smiled. I was polite and courteous. The fact of the matter is that I simply didn’t carry myself in a way that anyone responded to. I did not present myself as someone worth talking to.
Each one of us is a presence in this world. We breathe in air. We occupy space. We interact with others. We are not invisible. Once we start realizing that, we’ll carry ourselves differently and others will take notice.
I forced myself to take part in another comfort zone challenge this past Friday night. I had to try again. I had to put myself back in that same social situation I used to hate so much. And I was determined to own. that. room.
Come back on Thursday for the details of my do-over comfort zone challenge.