Sunday, September 9, 2012

Challenge Accepted!

“I feel that we are often taken out of our comfort zones, pushed and shoved out of our nests, because if not, we would never know what we could do with our wings, we would never see the horizon and the sun setting on it, we would never know that there's something far better beyond where we are at the moment. It can hurt, but then later you say "thank you." I have been pushed and shoved and have fallen out and away, so very, very, many, many times! And others around me have not! But then, the others haven't seen what I have seen or felt what I have felt or been who I have been, they can't become what I have become. I am me.”                  
― C. Joy Bell C.

I've always been a social person, making friends fairly easily and (when I'm not the one organizing) getting invited to social events. The past few years, however, though great for my growing as a person, have not been particularly great for my people skills. People whose opinions I respected and whom I cared for, had me believing that I am a horrible person to be around, that I am an embarrassment and that I should rather keep my big mouth shut when meeting new people. Isn't it interesting how someone can change so much when they are with "their" people and then make you believe that you are the problem? Sucks, doesn't it?

So anyway...rant over. But it was needed to get to the actual reason for this post. I've been living in Cape Town now for 14 months, getting involved in a variety of areas and seeing a lot of new people. Mainly I've been the girl in the corner. I've been the one watching other people hang out, making conversation and doing life together. Behaving in this manner has led to 2 things not happening:
a) I've not been making loads of friends (leading to boring weekends and my own company most of the time)
b) I've not been meeting any potentially date-able  guys. (Come on! Every girl likes to go out on a date now and again!)

Recently I went to dinner with a guy I've known since university. Let's call him Uni-guy. (No, this was not a "date" dinner. It was just two friends catching up.) We started talking about how easy it was to meet people when we were studying, how easy it was to meet "date-ables". We were a big group of people, all involved in different areas of student life. Meeting (and getting to know new people) was a part of our daily walk. Asking someone out on a date came easily and loads of my friends are now married to people that they met somewhere between the Law faculty and the cafeteria.

Uni-guy listened to me whine about the lack of decent guys in my life. And by "decent guys" I don't necessarily mean someone to marry, but I do mean guys to hang out with. As an only child, the absence of males in my social development is painfully obvious in most of my dealings with members of the opposite sex and sometimes...I just need someone to go to the driving range with or go shoot at things in the arcade. Someone who doesn't wear heals. I complained that I've noticed some interesting people at church and in my daily activities, but I had no idea how to actually get to know these people. We have absolutely NO REASON to communicate. Uni-guy just listened and nodded and shared a bit of his own struggles. Then he said the following: "Have you thought about just saying 'Hello'? Most conversations start that way and it's not weird or awkward. Just greet them." This profound life-changing suggestion had me gaping like a fish on the beach for a few seconds, but as soon as I recovered, I had a dozen excuses. "I'm not good with new people. I'm really not comfortable talking to people I don't know. What if he thinks I'm an idiot? Can't I just wait for him to say 'Hello' to ME?!?"

Smiling, Uni-guy looked me straight in the eye and challenged me. He challenged me to greet and introduce myself to as many people as I possibly can between the end of my exams (mid-November 2012) and the end of January. Not "be introduced" to other people. Not stalk them on Twitter. Greet them myself and introduce myself without the help of anyone else. I quit breathing for a few seconds and burst out laughing. I absolutely love a challenge, but this is way out of my comfort-zone! Then I remembered that I used to live outside of my comfort-zone. Outside of my comfort-zone used to be my comfort-zone! (If that makes ANY sense at all...) Maybe this is exactly what I need to get my old confidence back! I've got absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain.

We still need to fine-tune the details, but I accepted the challenge.
Operation Hello is officially in motion.  Uni-guy: IT.IS.ON!!!

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