Listening: the safe thing

I watch and listen a lot. I’m an observer. Perhaps that makes me something of a wallflower..I don’t know. But whatever you call me, I pick up a lot this way without having to put myself out there too much. I’ve always been kind of shy with a huge fear of rejection, though the latter half of that is totally normal. Listening is safe, and it’s been a great way to go. Until recently.

After having spent a year in college, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I don’t start putting my thoughts on the table now, no one is going to come to me for ideas later. And I do have good ideas, I swear.

Honestly, I don’t know what I’ve been so afraid of. I take criticism well…or at least I think I do. I like having a chance to make my projects better. I love having my ideas challenged, built on, and improved. I just don’t like having them demolished. Fear of that is what has kept my mouth shut for so long. It’s only been in the past year or so that I started to really make the change to someone a little riskier, with words and everything else.

I’m not the kid who raised my hand to answer questions in class, even when I was certain I knew the correct response. I was never someone to just walk up to new people and introduce myself. It took a long time for me to grow into talking about problems I was having with others instead of groaning and dragging my feet, hoping they’d correct themselves without me having to say anything. Basically, I avoided the spotlight and any potentially awkward situation.

Being the center of attention still isn’t my thing; I grew into awkward though. I truly embrace it now. So called awkward silences are my favorite. And being a little embarrassed isn’t so terrifying because I’ve realized that’s just a way to show people that I’m real. My mistakes and social blunders can set me apart just as well as anything else..which, of course, can be a negative thing as well. But as long as I can laugh at myself, I think I’ll be okay.

I’m still a good listener, and I’m proud to say that I am. But I’m molding myself into a sharer too. I imagine it’d be pretty hard to do anything life-changing  if I never had the courage to speak up and present my ideas to the world. Humans crave security, but we thrive on risks. It sounds a little odd to say, but the safe thing isn’t always the right thing.

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