This morning on my way to work, something interesting happened that made me think more critically about how time and change are interconnected. I was walking on the train platform at a quarter past eight as usual when I turned around and saw someone I had not seen in at least three years. We both stared at each other in a caffeine-deprived haze, somehow managing to exchange awkward hellos and small talk before boarding the train. Although we have known each other for most of our childhoods, this surprise of running into each other years after graduating made it evident how much had changed. As we started trading stories about our jobs and lives at the moment, another former classmate walks by, prompting a similar scene of greetings and mutual intrigue.
After we had all piled into the train a short time later, I flopped down into my seat and mused about what had just happened. While I ended up taking a few minutes to settle my nerves, I settled into a comfortable calm and suddenly felt inspired to report on what I had experienced. What became clear to me is that when you are caught off-guard by unexpected social situations, you lose the illusion of control over your surroundings, therefore, you subconsciously overthink everything that occurs. It was an especially nerve-wracking scenario because I had only woken up an hour before this meeting and had not yet had my caffeine fix, which my friends joke is the only way I become less zombie and more human. Feeling suddenly thrown back into past friendships can seem weird, even if you are more confident and self-assured than you ever were when you knew them. In the current days of social networking sites such as Facebook, the likelihood of meeting up with old friends and classmates has become exponentially higher. Making good impressions in person, however, and being able to market the real you takes perseverance and is a strength that can only be built upon. Here are some tips for keeping yourself fresh and approachable, even when your nerves have taken over:
1. Keep your eyes peeled and your head held up high. The most important part of being confident is that your inner and outer self match. Stand up straight, have a smile on your face, and keep a watchful eye of your surroundings, as you never know who you are going to meet at any given time. If you are able to display the confidence and self-assured grace that you have built up since your school days, then others will be able to see it, too, and be drawn to you! Embrace your current self and keep others up-to-date on your poised demeanor!
2. Smile and look into people’s eyes while talking. This might seem like an obvious idea when it comes to conversation etiquette, but many people forget even the simplest forms of communicating when they encounter an unexpected situation! Although you may be caught off-guard when first seeing someone you know, being able to hold eye contact and provide a warm smile can ease even the most awkward of situations. Reminding yourself that these are people you used to know or should get to know better can put you in a better mindset and ready to communicate more effectively!
3. Brainstorm some interesting “go-to” facts about your life to share with others. One of the most common questions that is asked when you haven’t seen someone in a while is “What are you up to now?” This can be a difficult question to answer for some people, as they might have a myriad of interests or a job that is difficult to describe. If you have a complicated list in your mind at the moment and don’t know how to break it down, think of a few key facts about yourself and keep them in the back of your mind for social situations. You never know when you might need to get your shine on!
4. Wake up with an optimism for the upcoming day. Get yourself ready in the morning with confidence and dress the way you feel best! If you have a poor attitude to begin with, who’s to say the rest of your day won’t be spectacular? You just have to have the faith in who you are – a strong, independent woman who can do anything she puts her mind to! If you don’t keep the glass half full, who will? You have to exude the confidence that you know you have and work it to your advantage. Never give up your self-worth in favor of nerves and lack of courage!
5. Be yourself. Always being true to yourself is the best advice in terms of marketing your strong points and keeping your self-esteem alive! Even if someone tells you that you have to dress differently or adopt a new style that isn’t comfortable for you (unless that person is your boss!), you shouldn’t have to compromise or change yourself for someone else. The best way to show others the real you is to BE the real you from the get-go! Never forget who you are and always strive to better combat your emotions through an optimistic lens. By giving yourself permission to spread your wings as the person you truly are, others will see this brightness and be encouraged by your confident, assured attitude! Be who you are and don’t ever sacrifice that.
Being aware of how you exude your outer confidence and attitude makes it much easier to market yourself to the best of your ability – and anyone that you encounter will see this! By bringing out the eye contact, smiling, and assured demeanor when asked about your life, you have the opportunity to come off as an interesting and fantastic person to interact with. Never give up your originality or quirks, as by learning how to use these to your advantage, you can charm anyone with the real you – and be proud of who you are!