All my life I have been called shy. It’s a fair assessment. My shyness as a kid was so strong that when teachers complimented me at parent-teacher conferences, I would just cry. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I would try so hard at everything I did but I felt like I wasn’t good enough since I couldn’t spell or do math very well. When I was recognized for doing good work, I would be overcome with emotions that they would just leak out of me. Sometimes to the point where I couldn’t stop. You know that cry where you try to stop and it sounds like you are convulsing and have the hiccups at that same time? Yes, very uncomfortable for all parties involved.
It has always been my default to doubt myself. It didn’t come from my parents; they were always supportive of me and were happy if I tried my hardest. Growing up and moving into the real world, that type of thinking doesn’t always fly. The IRS, for instance, does not seem to understand this concept when my math comes up short. I needed to learn a different way of dealing with that feeling of not being enough.
For most of my life, I have allowed fear to fuel my anxiety. I was worried about what other people thought of me. In the past, people had told me that their first impression of me was that I was standoffish and a bitch. I continued to be worried about what my first impressions are to others. Am I too quiet? Do I look closed off? Am I talking too fast? Am I taking about me more and not listening to them? Is there bagel in my teeth? So many things to worry about.
Once I started to recover from these anxious thoughts, I then had to address the social media side of life. Social media hasn’t always been a part of my life, but it has added another element to my fears of being judged and bullied. Now people can do it from far away or even anonymously. Depending on my mood and my interpretation of a comment, I can confuse something positive with an insult. Now with social media, I am back to worrying about how I come off to others: Is everything I am posting interesting? Am I using proper grammar?
For the past three years, I have had several amazing opportunities to meet other business owners and influencers on all platforms that use social media to engage with their audiences. What I have learned from most of these people is that they are still nervous about what other people think about them. They can be seemingly untouchable on a stage and inspire and teach hundreds of people, but once you get them down in a one on one setting, they are just as anxious and uncomfortable as the rest of us.
This week, I have decided that I am not going to let my fears and habits hold me back any longer. I am weird, awkward, smart, and funny. I no longer want to worry about what people think of me and what I am doing. I have a lot to share with the world, and it will probably be unpolished, but I am not going to let that hold me back. Here is my warning to you, and you may need to warn your friends too: I am going to just be me. I am going to own who I am and if people don’t like it, then they aren’t my people. If they judge me, then they are not thinking at my level. I invite you to join me. Let your weirdness out and share it with the world. We already have too many boring stiffs out there, we don’t need to pretend to be one of them. If you are interested in following me on my journey, follow me on Instagram @realmelissadasilva, on Facebook: The Queer Career Coach or at melissadasilva.com.