If you know me well, you’d probably say I’m an extrovert. You really can’t get me to lower my volume or just shut up in general. I’m passionate and crazy and love to talk about anything and everything.
On the other hand, if we’ve just met, you might confuse me for a mute because I really won’t say that much. I sit back and watch and listen and try to gauge everything around me.
The introversion is what I battle with. Because while some of that makes sense from a survival standpoint, there’s a huge part of me that just feels like it’s so boring.
It’s like hanging out on the edge of the pool. Just watching, waiting. Dipping a toe or two in a little, but afraid to make a splash.
Yet if I leave the pool without having gotten in, I lament myself for feeling invisible.
So why not just jump in?
Fear. Of course.
Fear of judgement, fear of failure.
But seriously, guys, that’s no fun. They say at the end of your life, you don’t regret what you did, you regret what you didn’t do, right?
So I wanted to talk about something that I’ve been working on that’s helped me immensely.
That one thing is one word: Participate.
Lately, when I feel like I have an opportunity to do something or talk to someone, but feel afraid, I just say that little word to myself. For whatever reason, when I do, it makes me feel like I’m suddenly a part of something as opposed to facing something alone. Jumping in the pool is no longer about making a splash and everyone turning around and staring. It’s about jumping in so I can swim with everyone else, to enjoy what they’re enjoying too.
It makes fear more manageable, and in some ways, it even makes it more fun. To me, that’s what I ultimately live for anyway. To have new experiences, to have fun, and to be a part of those new things with others.
So that’s what I’ve been practicing, everywhere I go. From wishing the cashier at Starbucks a Happy Birthday (the tiara gave it away) to yelling across the street at a girl that I like her outfit (she had a huge bow on her head that was super cute) to even just hanging out with my brother and making s’mores and talking about life.
I’m choosing to participate.
And you’d be surprised at how nice most people are. Not everyone always is, of course, but that’s okay. It’s nothing to take personally. Not everyone will want to participate, and not everyone will like you either. That’s cool, too. The point is, it’s like an experiment. You’re just making an observation, and interested in the result. That way, no matter what happens, it’s a win.
It’s hard to explain, but participating makes me feel so free. It takes the pressure and seriousness out of everything, and helps you just be and not worry so much about what other people think. It’s not something that I’m 100% natural at, and I definitely have to work at it every day. But I figure the more you do something, the more it naturally becomes a part of who you are.
And personally? That’s definitely more of the type of person that I want to be.
Have you participated lately? Any experience in particular that left you smiling?