Another social situation. I’m looking for the escape routes. A corner to stand in. A small child to talk to, or even better a pet. You don't have awkward silences with a cat.
I am not a fan of parties, weddings or anywhere where I have to talk to people I don't know. How do you make small talk about nothing much? I don’t do “the weather conversation” particularly well. My own Weddings (I’ve had 3, to the same lady but that’s another story!) I would have been happy not to show up for any of them, except for the fact I was marrying a wonderful lady and she was worth the excruciating embarrassment of being in that circle of attention.
I am an introvert. All the online tests tell me so.
Doing a meeting, running a training session, performing music or speaking in front of groups of people gives me extraordinary nerves. I get the “shaking knees” and other classic fight or flight responses. But at least I’m trying to learn strategies to overcome those nerves. One I find particularly useful is to get there early for whatever it is I am doing. Pacing, thinking, rehearsing in my head, oh, and making a bad, and sometimes inappropriate joke.
I actually used to, and from time to time still do, love to perform on a stage despite the stage fright and nerves. The largest crowd I've ever performed in front of in a band was about 3,000 people. It looked like the whole world! But the performance nerves are kind of enjoyable, which come with a huge addictive hit of adrenaline. I love that feeling after leaving the stage. But I’m bad at taking a compliment. A further curse of the introvert.
So, here we are at the dreaded party, and someone asks me "What do you do?". The first thing that comes to my head is "I'm a Scuba Diving Instructor!". There we go! Glamour, adventure, nerves of steel. I AM a diving instructor.
Oh, but hang on a minute. I think I am, or was since it's been a while since I taught anyone to actually scuba dive, a pretty good one. I did get to the level of Master Instructor. But I must be honest, I can't ever say that it's what I do, or did for a living. I did get to do amazing dives and hang out under palm trees but I never made an actual "living" out of it.
My living is writing radio commercials, and I'm as proud of that as I am about my scuba diving qualifications and experience. I love it, I'm good at it, and I’m always getting better. OK, let's give that a go!
"I write radio commercials..."
"Oh... Great... and how do you know Wendy?"
"This is Wendy's birthday!"
"I er... I write radio commercials"
"You said that"
"I thought you might have missed it... It’s a really interesting job… erm, what about you?"
"Oh me? Not much ha... I'm just a diving instructor."
"Okay... (awkward pause) Right... I just have to go and talk to Wendy..."
I may not come to your party, but I love talking to people about their radio advertising and how we could make it better, how we could make it work harder, and how we could make it sound better on air.
We're very happy to come and present to your marketing team, just ignore my wobbly knees. It's me, not you.