A sense of belonging is critical to life. Kids do it all the time. They dye their hair funny colors, listen to music their friends listen to and use special lingo. It doesn’t change as an adult. We still want to belong.
I pick clothes in the current fashion; it is a seaside blue skirt I have on today. My hair is no longer in 80’s curls; each morning I use a flat iron to make it straight. I have an iPhone and can speak iPhone lingo! I want to fit in. I want to be accepted. I want to be liked.
Attending events and meetings can have you feeling out of your league, self conscious and anxious. It goes beyond the “Do I look good?” questions in your head. It now becomes, “Kathy, don’t make a fool of yourself and say something stupid!” As an upcoming manager I remember years ago buying books on how to work a room and how to mingle. I learned tips and tricks to breaking into conversations, getting through the before the meeting starts niceties and more importantly, I learned how to increase my confidence in social situations. Overcoming the uneasiness of fitting in as you move through your career can be quite a challenge.
Being comfortable around others starts with being comfortable in your own skin. Take time to figure out who you are; not who you want to be. While you are continuing always to grow and mature, figuring out the essence of you will have you realize what you have to offer in social situations. If you aren’t the humor type, cracking a joke is going to fall flat. If you aren’t Mr. Current Affairs, don’t try to pretend you know all about a recent news item. If however you are a small town girl who knows the value of community; if you are love dogs, know what it’s like to struggle to get all of your duties done in a day or are passionate about an aspect of work, talk about all of that! If you are smart, be smart, funny, be funny, nice, be nice!
Today I watched a gentleman enter a conference room and awkwardly invited himself to join a table. He was eccentric and even a bit aggressive. You could feel the others at the table bristle a bit as he joined them. Yet there was something about him that had me entranced by his behavior. While not socially graceful, I knew he has something to offer. I was not surprised a little while later to see him move to the front of the room as one of the speakers. A powerful passionate speaker, his eccentric qualities were part of what drew the audience in. Despite his quirks and idiosyncrasies he confidently stepped into bestowing upon us his immense knowledge and had the room in the palm of his hands.
What makes you special? What makes you different? Don’t try to hide it. Just be you in social situations. Belonging doesn’t mean blending in. It means being you and sharing what you have to offer. The next time you enter a meeting, training event or social situation, relax. Share you and what you know and who you are proudly.
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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