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.”