,By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Big family meals, office holiday parties, and festive happy hours. There's this misconception that only introverts need alone time and extroverts can just keep going and going. Well guess, what? We all need time that's just for us. As we move into the holiday season it might seem counter-intuitive to think about alone time. But with all the awesome craziness that comes with the end of the year, it could be just what you need.
I love meeting new people, joking around with strangers, and connecting with people I care about. But as social as I am and as social as our students become, alone time is still vital. My close friends can attest to me freaking out and needing alone time after social binges.
Imagine you're lost in an underwater cave and then discover an air pocket. That's how Eric Time feels to me. Precious. Most of my best ideas, music and thoughts have come when I was alone. I think a lot. (Maybe too much, but I'll have to think about that.) Chilling out on my own, I've come up with unique ways to solve business challenges or handle relationship issues. These moments of insight come when we quiet our surroundings and our minds.
Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century French philosopher, said, "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." So apparently we had a hard time just being on our own way before we had smart phones and the endless internet to distract the hell out of us.
Choosing to spend time alone is different from loneliness. Alone time can be really fun and you get to do exactly what you want. When I make time for myself, I love reading, playing the guitar, exploring, having adventures, and meditating (to quiet that monkey mind). I just booked a getaway for three days in beautiful Kenwood, up in Sonoma County. I'm bringing a laptop, two books and my guitar. I hope to get some good work done and plenty of relaxing, while throwing FOMO in the wind. Will I miss out on parties, brunches, and cool events in the city that weekend? Sure. But I'll be breathing in that sweet air of Eric Time and I know I'll come home feeling recharged and ready for more.
This holiday season, in-between time with family and friends, remember to take care of yourself and make time for you too.
By Viet Phan, Jaunty graduate
I've always suffered from social anxiety for as long as I can remember. During my childhood, any form of social interaction—from answering the telephone, to ordering a hamburger at McDonald's, to even speaking to my own family and friends—would make me feel anxious and tremble with fear. I was labeled as anti-social, passive, shy, and introverted, and because of that, I grew up with a lot of fear, shame, and guilt.
I coped with my anxiety the only way I knew how: by working extremely hard in life and by being really kind to others. I hoped that achieving success could help combat some of the negative labels that had been placed on me. I hoped that by sacrificing myself by helping others I would receive their appreciation and approval in return.
I worked hard at everything. I put in extra time at the office to advance my career. I trained for many hours at the gym to improve my physical appearance. I even pushed myself to take up public speaking and ballroom dancing classes to help overcome anxiety and find some comfort in my own skin. And I continued to do my best to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.
It all went according to plan, and eventually I found myself having everything I had ever wanted in life: a beautiful, loving girlfriend, a successful career, and the recognition from others. Everything seemed perfectly happy on the outside…
On the inside, however, it was a much different story. Despite all of the love and happiness in my relationship, I found myself overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and emptiness. Despite all of the successes in my career, I couldn't escape the feelings of inadequacy. And despite having the support of my family and friends, I couldn't help but feel exhausted and bitter from a lifetime of seeking external approval and validation.
One day, I found myself staring into the mirror and asking myself, "Who are you?" I began rationalizing with myself, "Maybe I'm just one of those people who are incapable of happiness."
I started to pull away until my girlfriend finally decided to end the relationship. Some of my last words to her were: "I'm not happy and I'm not sure why," and, "I just want to feel free for once in my life..."
After some soul searching, I started to understand that I had been suffering from depression, a low sense of self worth, poor communication skills, and a lack of self awareness. The self discovery left me heartbroken and devastated. I eventually found treatment through therapy, and started reading books about cognitive behavioral therapy, relationships, communication, self-esteem, and masculinity. I finally understood that my anxiety and unhappiness was due to my inability to love myself.
I decided to move from Los Angeles to San Francisco with the goal of pushing myself outside my comfort zone, expanding my boundaries, and finding myself. But since I was all alone in a new city, I wasn't sure where to begin. I started joining Meetup events when I saw Jaunty's free workshop on how to deal with social anxiety and improve your social intelligence. I felt that it was exactly what I was looking for.
I took the free workshop with Eric, Jaunty's founder, and was immediately impressed by his knowledge and understanding. After following up with the private session, I was sold and decided to sign up for the full six-week Jaunty course. It ended up being the best decision I ever made.
The true value of the Jaunty course is how it breaks down social intelligence concepts into really simple, yet powerful tools that anybody can use. Jaunty provided me with real techniques that helped me develop the knowledge and courage to manage my anxiety and ultimately build the confidence and ability to truly express myself.
There's nothing more powerful and inspiring than being surrounded by amazing people who are all in the same boat as you are. The inspiration and support from my classmates truly inspired me to trust the methods taught by Jaunty, to push myself to apply the things that I learned, and to ultimately hold myself accountable for my own personal growth.
In my honest opinion, the real magic behind the Jaunty course is Eric himself. Before Jaunty, I was unable to accept myself because I couldn't shake the stigma of being introverted, and the belief that having anxiety meant that I was mentally weak. However, Eric really understood where I was coming from, and helped me understand that I'm not less of a person by any means, and that anxiety is not a character flaw, but rather, something that I can work on. Eric is truly passionate about helping his students. His empathy, understanding, and support really pushed me to overcome my negative sense of self-worth and to start learning how to love and respect myself.
It's been a few months since I completed the course, and I have done things that I never thought would be possible. I have been meeting new people and making new friends everywhere I go. I had the courage to approach the most beautiful women at the hottest pool party in Las Vegas. The anxiety hasn't completely gone away, but I'm now able to embrace it and then replace it with excitement. The feelings of inadequacy are being replaced with feelings of confidence and self-esteem. Bitter resentful feelings have been replaced with feelings of gratitude and appreciation. I still don't have all of the answers, but thanks to Jaunty, I am no longer letting anxiety stand in the way of the person that I want to become.
My name is Viet and I know that who I am continues to grow with all of the new experiences that I encounter in my life. And thanks to Jaunty, I learned that I definitely am capable of happiness. And I finally feel free, for the first time in my life.
By Byron Evora, Jaunty Graduate
I work in the video game industry as a Sound Designer. It's a pretty awesome job, but big changes in my life made me want to increase my social agility.
I'm an introvert and while I've always seen myself as moderately social, I used to feel a tinge of anxiety before putting myself out there. It wasn't really an issue until last year when I decided to start my own game audio company. Prior to this, handling a few conferences or networking events a year was easy, and even fun - I was a full-time employee at a company and was only interested in making friends and increasing my contacts list. When I split off on my own, the amount of these events increased exponentially. I was now searching for clients, and something tangible was now at stake.
The golden apple of these conferences happens right here in San Francisco, every March. It's called The Game Developers Conference, or GDC.
It's a funny little secret among developers that while the workshops are incredibly informative, they're not actually the real conference. The friendship making, deals, and networking actually happen off-site, during meet-ups, mixers, and of course, the parties.
Imagine putting hundreds of introverts (mostly male) into a room. Some are looking for their next job, others are trying to break into the industry, and a few are there to catch up with old friends. The energy in the party is awkward and stagnant. Nobody's talking except for the circles of old friends, and those more socially comfortable are dominating the room. The rest are wallflowers, shrinking into themselves. In a couple hours, though, the party's jumping.
How? With booze... Copious amounts of booze (among other things - it is SF, and a party, after all). From my experience, GDC is a week of getting hammered until late into the night and making new friends, many of whom don't remember one another the next day. The more intimate networking events throughout the year are similar.
When I signed up for Jaunty, I told Eric I was primarily interested in the six-week class to make connecting with potential clients faster and easier. But that was only half the story. It was also for my health. For at least one night, I'll always tear up the city with my friends at GDC, but throughout rest of the year, this was getting both awfully expensive, and severely unhealthy.
I was four weeks into the course when GDC happened in 2015.
During a party, I walked up to a group of five complete strangers and introduced myself. They were polite, but I could see them starting to armor up for the typically weird small talk followed by the awkward handshake and exchange of business cards. But I didn't talk about work, at least not yet... I asked them what they'd been up to that day and took the conversation to some place fun. Nobody had a single drink yet, but we were having a great time.
When it was time for them to meet up with friends at another party, I had nursed a single drink and none of the group had more than three. One of them remarked that we're normally trashed at this point in the night. I was about to initiate the business card thing, but thought we'd built such rapport, why mar the experience by bringing it back to the subject of work? There'd be plenty of other nights like this and maybe I'd run into them again.
But then, they asked me to go with them. I had no invitation and no badge, but they knew the people throwing it. It wouldn't be a problem at all.
That entire night, I had two drinks and didn't ask for a single business card - they just offered them to me. Further, one of the guys was working on an amazing project (one of my dream gigs) and told me to call him the following week. That phone call included a project director who was interested in possibly using my company to help out on their game. Next came an onsite lunch to meet the team, and finally an offer to bid on the work right away. By then I had finished the Jaunty course and was completely at ease meeting new groups of people, and making them feel at ease without a single beer.
I got the gig.
By Adrienne Fraser, Jaunty graduate
My close circle of friends know me well and probably wouldn't have seen me as someone with social anxiety.
But in big groups and work events I used to drive through any anxiety by gritting my teeth. "Just get through it, just get through it," I'd tell myself. And I did, but with very little joy.
I have always been an introvert and preferred to make deeper "one on one" connections in lieu of having many acquaintances and a large social circle. But as I've grown older, this preference has not always served me well.
Recently, I found myself in a time of transition. Close friends had moved away, I was recovering from burnout, two knee surgeries and a break-up. Additionally, I was pursuing a new tangent of my career at a much larger company. I needed to quickly establish connections with my new co-workers. I was missing out on important off-the-clock conversations - things I needed to know about.
Yet, despite having made some crucial changes for the better, I was still on the defensive and my various stressors exacerbated my social anxiety. I knew I needed to find new ways of interacting with people and move on with my life.
Every week, I set my goals and pushed myself to meet them. About halfway through the course, my friends and family said, "Wow, you seem so different and happy! It's great!" I felt lighter. I was actually having fun approaching new people, engaging in interesting conversations with ease and was invited to lunches and happy hours at work. I was brought onboard for new projects, presented business plans to directors and even received top marks in "people skills" on my annual review.
With the help of Jaunty, I blazed down my new path of social freedom. I went from stiff, guarded, introvert to a smiling, confident, woman of the world in six weeks! Now, I feel amazing and self-assured that I can approach anyone and talk to anyone. In fact, I'm off now to make dinner for new friends. We're having enchiladas, tonight. Sounds good, right?
So there I was, sitting at home, cat in lap, searching for classes on Meetup that might help. I had dreams of dinner parties and arranging intimate gatherings where friends meet friends and maybe even fall in love. You know, things we read about in books set in France. Then I came across Jaunty.
The six-week course seemed perfect, an individualized experience with the support of a classroom environment. Just what I needed!
There I was on my first day of Jaunty, crossed arms and stiff jaw, in essence protecting myself from strangers in an unknown environment. But with the support of Jaunty and my classmates, I learned to slow-down, release tension and allowed myself to open up to my dream of a new and improved social life.
I used to have so much fear in approaching new people and starting a conversation. I was scared people would think I was bothering them, or that strangers might be mean to me. Through Jaunty, I realized that my belief was not grounded in fact, and usually quite the opposite was true. Over time, my old belief was replaced with my new belief; in essence, there are people out there in the world just waiting to meet me!