Freelancer? Entrepreneur? Work-from-home? Do you desperately miss social interaction? I did.
When I first entered the world of self-employment, I was pumped on the flexibility, being my own boss, and having the ability to set my own schedule. While these things are all fantastic, I started to realize the social impact of my decision and the fact that I went from interacting with many people on a daily basis at my corporate job to being solo every day. And it started to get to me.
I also have goals around public speaking– getting up in front of a crowd of people and talking about everything from entrepreneurship to following your dreams to staying healthy and feeling good with a plant-based diet. As 2018 rolled around, I realized that being able to tell my story in a compelling way in front of people would not magically happen. I would not just get up and lose the nerves and be a fantastic speaker. It was a muscle I needed to build, a skill I had to develop. I knew that my ability to tell my story and tell it well would be a tool I could use to help people. So figuring out how to do it, put myself out there, and get rid of social awkwardness, was something I needed to figure out ASAP.
Enter Toastmasters. I heard good things about developing awesome public speaking skills through the group, so I hopped on Meetup.com to search for a local branch. After signing up and canceling on three different occasions, I knew it was time to get over the fear and just do it.
So I went. And it was awesome. I didn’t actually get to speak publicly, but I did get to meet a bunch of great people from the area who were incredibly kind and open. So I’m going to another meet up this week. And the week after that. I’m planning on one meetup per week, not necessarily Toastmasters, but a group situation that will put me outside of my comfort zone, allow me to meet people, network, and squash my shyness.
And while a membership with Toastmasters costs money, you don’t need to pay to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. You just need to find a meetup to go to and follow through with doing it. Even at Toastmasters, I had about five different resistance thoughts as I was parking. Five different ways my brain was trying to talk me out of this discomfort. “This will be a waste of your time, just go to the coffee shop and continue working. You don’t know how these things are run, maybe they don’t really want guests. Do you think you are dressed right for this? People there will be further along in their careers than you, you’ll make a fool of yourself.” Obviously, this is all bullshit created by my mind to ‘protect me’ and keep me in a safe little box. If we listen to this fear-BS, we’ll stay in the same cocoon we’ve been in our whole life and never open ourselves up to new experiences. And that’s bleak. It’s hard to break out of the cocoon, but the sooner you can identify those fear-based bullshit thoughts as just that, the easier it will be to do things that scare you and push you forward.
Toastmasters was awesome. I met a room full of lovely, kind people, who were all at the same nervous spot at one time or another. They all shared one thing- they each have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone to get better at something in life. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
What are you currently working on or towards? I’d love to know!
Symmetry Coffee in Ocala, FL (great coffee!)
Meetup.com– to find Toastmasters in your area!