By Chinh Huynh, Jaunty graduate
"Hey Brian, do you have a second?"
Brian continued looking at the screen, deep in thought.
"Is this going to be quick?"
"Yes. I'd like to let you know that I won't be able to continue working on your project. Thank you for the opportunities that you gave me."
I got Brian's attention. As he was processing the news, I sat there in silence, calm and composed. A promising collaboration went bad. When Brian convinced me to help with the project two months ago, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to work with a senior member in the organization. Toward the end, Brian seemed distracted and things got dragged out for no good reason. After trying everything I could with no progress for a week, I decided to call it quits.
Brian thanked me and shook my hand. He didn't ask me why, I didn't feel like I need to justify myself either. Did Brian lose any sleep over this? I don't know, but that's beside the point. It's Brian's feelings, he will take care of it. As for me, I made a promise in my Jaunty class to live an assertive life, and I need to hold myself responsible for it.
Having options is powerful. Knowing that you have the ability to walk away from a bad situation will give you peace of mind. While everyone knows to look for a competing offer when searching for a new job, they often fail to apply the same principle in the most important aspects of their life: friendships and relationships.
A friend of mine is not happy. She thinks she sacrifices too much and her boyfriend does not reciprocate.
"So leave him," I said.
"That's what I'll do, when I know what I want. I don't know what I want".
I feel for her. I was in a similar situation before. As poetic as it sounds, I learned from Jaunty that I don't need to sacrifice to be in a healthy relationship. What I need to do is talk to a lot of people, invest in the ones that fit in my life and let go of the rest. As I made new friends that treat me well, it became easier to cut loose of broken relationships. When you have the ability to create an abundant social life, you're no longer tied to a relationship that "has to work". You no longer need to sacrifice for love.
People come to Jaunty for various reasons. For me, assertiveness and finding quality people are the key takeaways from Jaunty's six-week program. A month after graduation I made two new friends that I greatly enjoy spending my time with. I stopped interacting with negative people. I no longer say yes when I want to say no. I lost a few friends over this but that's okay because I can make new friends who respect my decisions.
I still feel anxiety when talking to new people. That little churn in my stomach before making an approach hasn't gone away yet. Putting myself out there is hard. It always has been. What kept me going is the Jaunty alumni network that pushes me to continue advancing my social skills even after the class is over. Every ending is a new beginning and my social life has just begun.
"Today I will live a social and assertive life."
Signed Chinh. Witnessed by Jaunty. April 7, 2015.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
During "smoke stops" the train stopped long enough for passengers to get off for some fresh air (or a cigarette). My favorite smoke stop ritual involved racing back and forth along the platform with Tyler and four of our new friends.
Tyler and I were on our way to DC for the holidays. Because we had the time and like an adventure, we decided to take the train from California instead of flying. We planned to break up the three-and-a-half day trip, visiting friends in Madison, Wisconsin, where Tyler used to live. Everyone we told thought it sounded really cool. Folks who had taken the train before, told us how social it would be.
And it was. I Jauntied my first passenger in the Emeryville station. On board, I chatted with a few people, but spent most of the first day relaxing. I kept my phone off, enjoying being unplugged. I read and ate clementines. Initially, I didn't have the energy to socialize much.
The second day, I was ready to put myself out there, and connected with lots of people. It was a good reminder to be gentle with myself and not feel like I have to be social all the time when I need to recharge.
Passing through the Rockies, I successfully "cold read" Laura, a woman in her sixties who is into long-distance, solo hiking. Kat had just finished a year at an educational farm and decided to take the train back to Pennsylvania, rather than flying, to ease into the next chapter of her life and figure out what to do next. It was touching seeing her draw monsters with Emma, a seven-year-old Australian. I loved talking with the Aussie family who were starting a fifteen-month trip through India and Nepal.
In connecting with people, I discovered everyone was taking the train for one of three reasons:
1. They were afraid of flying.
2. They wanted an adventure. Or in a few cases,
3. It was cheaper.
Tyler and I fell into the second category. Here, people in the first group could talk openly about their flying phobias and no one would make fun of them. But apparently they'd gotten a lot of flak from people at home.
"Why on earth are you taking the train?" People scoffed. "So you had some bad turbulence once? Get over it."
This got me thinking about "frame." When Tyler and I told friends and family we were taking the train, they all thought it was really cool.
Yet when the anxious fliers mentioned their plans, people made fun of them. It's the same trip. The difference is perception. Tyler and I framed our trip as a fun adventure and so everyone we talked to saw it that way. The flying phobics framed their trip in terms of their fear. They were not flying as opposed to embracing the train.
Similarly, everyone on the train was so friendly, approaching strangers felt totally normal. I hung onto this frame off the train too. Our longest smoke stop was in Denver, where Tyler and I ran off the train into the grand, new station. I laughed with the woman in the ice cream shop and struck up a conversation with a South African photographer. I felt like I was bursting with magnetism and didn't think it was remotely strange to talk with anyone. And because I believed it was totally normal, so did they.
"All aboard!" Choo-choo!
By Jaunty Social Trainer, Craig Gibbons
I was never a naturally social person. Throughout my life, I've struggled with some social anxiety. I had fear in dating as well as making friends. I often had interactions where I didn't know what to say or felt a lingering awkwardness. Making connections with others was extremely important to me, but for some reason I was unable to do so. I felt like I was in a hole, unable to dig myself out. In my early adult life, I read up on tips for self-confidence and dating as well as magic tricks that I could use to start conversations or impress people at parties. Through my personal training and experimentation, I felt pretty confident in my abilities to meet others and make connections. But I soon realized that my skills were not enough.
In 2012 I moved to San Francisco for school, and knew all of four people living in the city - my three roommates and an ex-girlfriend. Being shoved into an unfamiliar environment I was overcome by my own anxiety and clung to what was comfortable. I went from home to class and straight back home so that I could avoid awkward social interactions. Rather than making any new friends, I spent my free time Skyping or calling my hometown friends. Once again, I found myself in that same hole.
When I heard about the free Jaunty workshop, it promised the ability to connect with people and create a social circle. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I went to the workshop and fell in love with Eric and the skills he taught. I followed up with a six-week class, and fully immersed myself into the world of social intelligence. Focusing on the approach, assertiveness, building status, and making connections, I rapidly changed my own world. My hole became a staircase which led to the top of a mountain. With my new skills, I began coaching my friends and working with Eric, coaching other students so that I could more fully understand how it all works.
Seven months into working with Jaunty, I finally realized something. I paused my life and stepped out of my body for a moment to see. I was at school, sitting on the grass during a hot day. I was surrounded by friends. Not just friends, but people whom I called family. I'd always known that I wanted to belong, and at that moment I realized that I did.
Developing those relationships has created a home for myself. Keeping my status high has turned many of my friendships into mentorships where people in my life look up to me to lead or give advice. This has turned into business opportunities, more introductions, loyal and giving friendships, as well as a dating life of abundance. It's all felt like magic. Most importantly, my journey has led me to a place of social freedom where I belong.
This blog post was originally published in Jaunty's December newsletter.
Interview with Jaunty graduate Su Pang, by Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
Su Pang is a graphic designer and traveler with a dry sense of humor. Though folks wouldn't have known it, she used to worry about what to say, if she'd gel with people, or if she'd be able to hold a conversation. After social interactions, she worried if she'd done the right thing and if people liked her.
She believes these insecurities stemmed from her family. Growing up in Singapore, her mom was always second-guessing her.
"She's very protective," Su explained. "It's like Asian culture times ten. She always told me not to do things because I was going to fail. Now I'm in my forties and she's still doing that! I grew up worrying people might not be very accepting or that things were bound to not work out."
But now she trusts her instinct and feels like things always work out.
Su realized she had been attracting a lot of toxic people into her life. She was in therapy to work out issues with her mother and boost her confidence, with the goal of creating a healthier social circle. More confident, and with more positive friends, Su discovered she still didn't have the social skills she needed. She wasn't sure how to work the group and couldn’t continue a conversation for more than twenty minutes. That's when anxieties kicked in.
Su found Jaunty one night when she was looking for something fun to do. She went to the free workshop with a friend and signed up for the six-week class.
"Jaunty really pushed me," Su said. It was hard for her going out and having to talk to people for homework. But the hard work has paid off and now she has more social skills to play with.
She used to start conversations with a negative slant. Now she's more aware of that tendency and starts with something positive. Also the class reminded her that you can be super friendly, but not everyone is going to accept you.
"But that's not about you," Su said. "If you're talking with someone and they're not really welcoming or warm, just move away and talk to someone else. I used to think about it for days and feel really bad about it." Now, she just moves on and doesn’t worry about it. "That's a big deal for me because I'm a thinker." These days she tries not to get too attached to the outcome of any one interaction.
Since discovering Jaunty, she's gotten a new job and started dating a passionate woman. Incredibly, she got the job within three weeks of being back from a two month vacation in Iceland. During the interview, she used high status humor and other Jaunty skills. Her honey has told her she was most attracted to Su's confidence. Su said she'd never heard that from anyone before and used to feel nervous dating.
"Especially when you have parents who don't reassure you, it means a lot to hear something like that," Su said. She knows she's worked hard to build that confidence and is proud of how far she's come.
"This class teaches you confidence but it also teaches you to love yourself," Su said. She believes Jaunty is helpful for everyone, even if they don't have social anxiety. "This could easily be a class for public speaking and leadership. It's a class to help you live the life you want to lead."
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Ouch. That hurts. Okay, so what's your suffering? Mine are self criticism, health paranoia, and some insomnia/fatigue. These sometimes lead to bouts of depression, or maybe the bouts are isolated. I have no idea. Now let's be clear, these don't define me, or run my life, but are the bumps in my road. Sometimes however, these together can create a lot of stress and worry for me, and it's pretty unbearable.
For years I would battle my suffering flare ups. I would wage war on them by doubling down on "fun" people in my life, parties, more gym or travel, or making more money. These things can help, but not very much. Looking back, I think I was trying to distract myself instead of addressing what wasn't right in my life.
2008-2010 was tough. I was working in an industry I hated. Then I got laid off by Merrill Lynch during the financial crises, slipped a disc in my back, went through a crushing break up, and watched my first startup fail after years of hard work. I could barely walk for months; I was
suffering, and way more than I should have because of the above mentioned culprits. During that time I also became way more introspective. This triggered my deeper exploration of human behavior, which eventually brought me to Jaunty. Those challenging moments are so good at stripping away the things that are less important, and shining a light on what is. I found out much more about who I was when all I could focus on was my healing.
We continuously seek happiness. However, it is these challenging times of our lives that have the biggest and often most positive long-term impacts on us moving forward. Think back to a trying time in your life. I am speaking about deep internal changes. This is different from a serendipitous moment that changed your environment, though those are very important too. The periods I'm talking about are the ones that force you to go deep into your being, and soul. These struggles can create vocations, or callings. Listen to them! Take a step and trust it's the right direction. I know this from personal experience.
Many Greats have identified these periods of suffering as what ultimately lead them to truly come into their own. Abraham Lincoln, failed at businesses, lost many elections early on, and had a total mental breakdown before triumphing. Nelson Mandela suffered in prison for decades, an experience that shaped him in profound ways.
Pay attention to your suffering and use it as the catalyst for real change in your life.