,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 Elenzia Thompson, Jaunty graduate
How does this happen? How does a socially anxious woman go from hiding in her protective shell, to venturing out, taking risks and allowing herself to be vulnerable to the thing that torments her the most?
"You're unapproachable." "Why are you so quiet?" "You're a snob." "What's wrong, are you angry?" These are a few of the statements I heard from others, at work, social functions, parties, bars and night clubs. Hearing people's assumptions about me became the reason I cowered and closed myself off from the world.
Surely, there was a valid explanation for my aloofness. I kept myself in prison because I allowed the opinions of others to determine my self worth. This definitely wasn't an empowering way to live. Although I feared how people would perceive me, I actually craved human closeness and social interaction. After battling with myself for a number of years, I determined that I didn't want to be in prison for life. I needed to do something different.
I joined a car club after buying a muscle car. I got involved in martial arts. I was featured in a comic anthology. I discovered Meetups. But I struggled to keep conversations flowing, and engaging strangers, especially with men that I had found attractive. I definitely gave myself credit for taking risks, finding new things that interested me, and getting out of my shell to meet new people. But I soon discovered that my fear and social skill deficits, continued to hold me back. I started reading about social anxiety and found Jaunty.
When I signed up for the free workshop, I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was very important to me to get over my fear of rejection when introducing myself to strangers. I knew that I wanted to improve my eye contact and conversational agility, believing it would bolster my confidence. I knew that I wanted to make new friends. Ultimately, I no longer wanted fear to color every social interaction I encountered. When I finished the workshop, I had made significant progress, reducing my social anxiety, and met awesome people who shared similar struggles to my own.
A few months after completing the six-week course, I'm definitely more confident. I introduce myself to strangers, give compliments, ask questions, have strong eye contact, and hold down conversations with ease.
Still, life has its way of throwing social challenges my way and things don't always go like I'd hope. Over the summer, I went on a Meetup hike with a large group of strangers. I made an effort to introduce myself to everyone. Unfortunately some people weren't very friendly and I was left behind. It was a painful experience, but afterwards, I reminded myself of how far I had come. I didn't allow one afternoon with strangers to discourage me from pushing myself socially. I'm proud of myself for being so resilient.
This resilience keeps paying off in wonderful ways. I've participated in a number of activities and events where I've met lots of great people. For whatever reason, now when sharing stories with strangers, they're often inclined to share their food with me -- a touching gesture of friendship. I've also been told that I'm very outgoing, radiant, and easy to talk to. People tell me my smile is beautiful and inviting. Many people actually start conversations with me now.
I've discovered that I have the power to choose who I want in my life, so it's no big deal if one stranger isn't receptive to my offerings of friendship. That's their choice. Challenging my fears and misconceptions about social interactions has resulted in powerful changes in my life. There is nothing out there that will keep me from being open to meeting people. I have an amazing story to share because of where I was and where I am now. I look forward to sharing this story with new friends and I'm excited to hear their amazing stories too!