October 11, 2013

When Things Get Awkward. ~ Steph Richard

I judge you.

That’s right, I meet you for the first time and based on my own associations with the clothes you wear or your hairdo and all you present to me, I put you in a little box so I can handle your presence.

It’s not you, it’s me. I swear.

I create your story and act accordingly, probably picking out something, anything I can latch onto—“You like music? Get out of town! I like music too!”—to avoid that feeling of awkwardness.

Of all the worries, sadness and madness that goes on in the world at every second, I am in paralyzing fear…of feeling awkward.

I try oh so hard to hide it well. Maybe, just maybe I can trick you into believing that I am fine and brimming with confidence at every moment of our encounter, but here’s a little secret: if you don’t fall for it, we’ll be friends for life—perhaps the cries of a lost girl looking to be found? Who the fuck knows.

What I do know is that eventually, I will love you, no matter what, but, for now, we will step on each others toes as we dance the social dance, together, maybe for this moment only, never to see each other again, maybe for a couple of moments, maybe for a lifetime.

It’s funny what circumstances and situations can give us insight to who we are. I am learning, more and more, to keep my eyes open wide as I learn to dance and be free.

Last month, I attended a week long business seminar to help guide me on my new found journey of entrepreneurship as a yoga teacher. I was excited to learn, happy to meet others going through the same things as me and grateful to meet those who have succeeded.

Everyday, I came home anxious and sad, wanting to crawl into bed, cuddle with my cat and watch reruns of Three’s Company to numb this feeling of unknown pain. I didn’t quite know where it was coming from, but I did know it wasn’t good for me.

Have you ever heard of an elevator speech? If not, here’s the rundown: It is a 30 second introduction you use when networking for the purpose of gaining and giving business. “A very important tool for success,” according to many of the presenters.

“Hi, my name is Steph, I am a yoga teacher, I, um…”


“Hi, my name is Steph, I love yoga and want to share it with you, so, yeah…”

Um, no.

“Hi, have you heard of the benefits of yoga? By the way, my name is Steph…”

Still, no.

I had to practice my elevator speech and present it to everyone at this business seminar and then again, each time a new presenter came to entertain and inform us.

As I danced the dance, I stepped on a lot of people’s toes that week, but I was told to, “Fake it til you make it.”

Classic, right? I’ve used this phrase myself in times of fear.

Now, look, don’t get me wrong, I am all about pumping myself up and creating  personal mantras. These are great things, which, without, I wouldn’t move forward in many of my life’s circumstances. But there was something different about what was happening in my heart during this seminar.

What was missing was authenticity. I realized I wasn’t being authentic and it freaked. me. out. I was being trained to hide behind words, thoughts and actions (“Stand with your feet spread apart so you look confident.”) that were not my own. Maybe this works for some, but not for me. It took me trying to push my own self out of the way for me to realize I liked who I was and how I presented myself, awkwardness and all.

I pulled myself back in and gave my head a shake.

Authenticity for the win!

Being real and honest with ourselves will always feel better, if not in the moment, in the long run, I promise.

I thought about it a little more and realized, it’s the awkwardness of being human that makes us absolutely adorable. Acceptance of this more often than not leads to a great connection. When I look at my life in retrospect, being awkward makes the most endearing stories of true friendship and relationships. We all love to watch it in movies and read about it in books. We love to laugh at it because we all go through it, whether we’re willing to be free with it or not.

So, here is my new elevator speech:

“Hi, my name is Steph. I’m shy and feel awkward in your presence. I really like your shirt. The way the sun shines on your eyelashes makes me see, in your eyes, how kind your heart is. I won’t do anything to hurt or embarrass you. Let’s stumble through our words until we find something we truly have in common. Let’s connect, right now, without the bullshit. Oh yeah, and if we’re still hanging out in an hour, I’m going to love you.

P.S. I teach yoga.”

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Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: Via Pixoto}

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