By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's writer
Smart and bubbly, Shar Rauch was in a real funk at the beginning of the year. She’d been unjustly laid off from a job and shortly after went through a break-up. A huge blow, she felt, “So much sadness.”
After taking some personal development classes and reading lots of self-empowerment books, Shar, “still felt something was missing.” She was tired of trying to prove she was “good enough” and wanted to believe she already is. She wanted to be more assertive in all aspects of her life. Additionally, Shar realized she was inadvertently attracting guys who were looking for something completely different from who she is. “I feel like I get inaccurately judged – like so many people,” Shar says. “I'm really into nerdy things like science and philosophy. Neil deGrasse Tyson is like my biggest crush.” However, because she’s blonde and generally “super happy,” people often assumed she was superficial and worked in finance. She’s comfortable being single, but ultimately wanted to attract or ask out a “down-to-earth nerd.” Someone she could talk with about books, who shares her passion for fun, volunteering, “wanderlusting”, music and hiking.
“Jaunty pulled me out of the funk.” Shar heard about Jaunty because a friend invited her to a Meetup. “I was willing to go. I had nothing to do that night.” She took the free workshop on social intelligence and signed up for the six-week course. She felt, “[An] immediate connection to Eric's teaching and the classmates. We all came from different backgrounds but were able to build these supportive, strong bonds with one another. I was judged and not accepted for who I am by someone I loved wholly and rejected from my job. Jaunty was my tribe of people who accepted me for who I am. I always had a plethora of friends who I felt safe with but this was a whole community like that where I felt so accepted and challenged to become a better version of myself.”
During the six-week course, Shar was given homework to do a cold approach and a contact exchange. Basically starting a conversation with a stranger, building rapport, and getting their phone number. She was more comfortable striking up a conversation with women, so she knew she needed to push herself and approach men. She practiced in a bar with Christine, her amazing accountability partner from class, for support.
A few days later at an Oakland farmers’ market, she spotted three guys hanging out on a bench. Shar started a conversation asking for restaurant recommendations with the intention of completing her homework. She said to the main guy she was talking with, “Hey, can I grab your number so you can shoot me some of those restaurants sometime.” He said, “Yeah sure!”
Shar was proud of herself and says, “It was great until later that night,” when he texted asking her out. “It was unexpected. It was awkward for me. I didn't want to lead him on.” Shar was on a mission to detox from dating for awhile, but would be open to it if she found, “an elusive manicorn”. She sent a nice message saying thanks but she's not interested and suggested they be friends. “Before I used to ‘ghost’ people which I know is just terrible.” Now she has the confidence to tell people how she feels if they ask her out. She's still working on it and sometimes gets friends to help her draft text messages, but after Jaunty there hasn't been any ghosting. “I can communicate effectively and that's priceless to me.”
Shar landed her “dream job” at Children's Hospital in Oakland, managing global health projects. “When I first started working there I definitely used my Jaunty skills.” She impressed the V.P. with her people skills, sharing her career goals, cracking jokes, and being assertive in getting to know him. “I've never felt intimidated [by anyone] since starting that job.” As a result, Shar got invited to a high-level meeting about onboarding new employees. She came prepared with a strong idea and impressed everyone. Thanks to Jaunty, she felt the confidence to be proactive and present her idea – a form she came up with that will be used to onboard new employees.
As for her interactions with guys, Shar is clear on what she’s looking for in a relationship and deliberately reveals more of who she is early on. Before Jaunty, her conversations tended to be more lighthearted and she didn't talk about the things that really matter to her. “I’m still that fun, bubbly person who’s intelligent.” Now she weaves her values into a conversation and looks out for people who unconsciously project their baggage onto her. She’s also working on not taking things personally. Shar wasn't expecting how much personal growth would happen in a short period of time with Jaunty. Reflecting on the course, Shar says, “I want to express so much gratitude to Eric, Craig and all the people in Jaunty.”
When asked who would benefit from Jaunty, Shar says, “Everyone. Honestly, anyone who is interested in learning more about themselves, feel a connection to other people, and just belong. Anyone who's willing to challenge themselves to embrace the fear. I think one of the things I learned about life is to embrace the fear and not let it hold you back.”
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
What lesson would you tell your younger self? I had my birthday earlier this month and while I’ve still got a ways to go, I feel good about where I’m at and where I’m headed. It’s cool to look back on my life so far and and see how I’ve grown along the way.
When I was 25, I spent so much time scattered everywhere. I went out all the time, often stayed out later than I wanted to, and basically tore shit up constantly. It was fun, and maybe it helped me find things I liked and didn’t, but actually I knew fairly early on that I like people, music, and trying to be as healthy as I can. A lot of the other stuff was a distraction and I spread myself pretty thin. Or maybe I needed to live my life that way to then try and find more balance.Now I know that I get burned out when I jump in life’s rapids too much. Things that put me in life’s rapids are opportunities...like a business opportunity or a social opportunity. There are so many opportunities, an invitation to a party or a business proposition for example. If I went to all of the Jaunty events I’d pass out from exhaustion. (Though I do want to go to more because we had a fun time taking over the tikki bar last month! I love you guys.) Similarly, new business opportunities are exciting, but can sometimes be a distraction, pulling me away from my core work at Jaunty. Basically, time and energy are finite resources and you’ve got to choose what you really care about.
When I find life’s rapids trying to pull me in, I can choose to jump in and go for a wild ride down the river. Or I can use my assertiveness skills and continue walking my path along the banks. Saying no and setting boundaries are key to peer and social pressures that distract us. We teach these assertiveness skills at Jaunty and I love helping our students find their voice and learn to speak up for themselves, especially when their view is at odds with the people around them. (“Dude, you’re going home already? Come on have another beer with us.” “This has been really fun and I’m heading home now. See you next time!”)
There is a balancing act inside my head. It’s about the big picture. Like, the really big picture. Has anyone seen those planet/star size comparisons on YouTube? Well you should check them out. We are tiny as fuck.
Half my head is saying I need to do the most I can in this world, live as fully as I can everyday, and push myself to expand helping as many people as possible with Jaunty. The other half asks what’s the point of working so hard since we’re here for limited time and even our galaxy has a finite existence, since it’s going to collide with another galaxy in a few billion years. Maybe I should just go ahead and relax and enjoy the things I like and that’s it. Okay that got a bit dark, but you get the idea.Well I think a mix of these two is the answer. I want to keep striving for more and pushing myself, and also make the time to relax and have fun. So focus. Focus on a few things at a time. That’s what I would tell my 25-year-old self. The one thing I’ve learned from all the masters I’ve met or read about is that focus, patience, and consistency are what made them pave their path.
So go ahead and taste the rainbow, but only come back for your absolute favorite flavors.