It’s hard to say what’s changed since I moved to Bristol over a month ago except that everything has. I’m still the same person I was in Vancouver but a slightly more confident and ambitious person. I have found myself doing things I would never do in Vancouver. Here I’ve emailed people I was interested in meeting or working with and set up meetings. And it worked. People have been so open and welcoming I’m almost embarrassed. People have been so generous with their time and resources that I can’t believe I never did this before.
Two months ago I would have been horrified at the idea of emailing up someone I was interested in speaking to and asking for a meeting. “They’ll be too busy”, “What will I say?”, “It’ll be so awkward”, “I’m just wasting their time”, “I don’t even know what I want”, are some of the excuses I would make. But recently I’ve had so many meetings with people that I’m starting not to be nervous. Sure, for some of them I’ve had no idea what I want to say but that’s ok. One thing I realized is that I don’t have to have it all figured out. Before, the fear of failure would keep me from even trying but at the moment that fear is quiet. I’m ok with telling people what I want to accomplish. I’m ok with going for it.
It’s not just in my professional life where I’ve felt more confident. Socially I feel so much more able to talk to new people. The other week for my housemate’s birthday we all invited people over and were sitting outside in our garden on a picnic bench. When I arrived I saw all the new faces and panicked. I told myself “Ok. You can leave in an hour. You just have to stay that long”, giving myself an out. Hours later I was still there talking to people and having fun. I wanted to be there. The anxiety just kind of disappeared.
The last few times I’ve talked to my Spanish housemate I’ve actually said things to her in Spanish. I actually spoke Spanish. This is a big deal because I learned it in school and got really good grades but was always horribly shy to speak it with native speakers fearing I would sound like an idiot. It’s happened really slowly and I love my housemate for encouraging me. I’ve done it. Something I was never able to do before.
Last week one of my housemates and I went to an open mic night at a cafe by our house. I had never been to one before and couldn’t think of why not. Having a massive fear of public speaking I started to get anxious even though I didn’t plan on performing. By the end of the night seeing the stories and music and poetry people shared, I realized I wanted to be a part of it. I want to share my work with other people. I’m done being scared of the results.
I’ve opened myself up so much and it feels amazing. Like this happier person was always waiting to be let out but she just never had the forum to do so. I’m also terrified of jinxing it, like with everything else. Whenever good things happen to me I’m scared to tell people about it in case I ruin it. But that’s changing too. Because I’m writing this. And that means I’m winning.