Two decades ago, I was this little girl who was forced to take ballet lessons and enroll in every class there was available for my age during the summer season. To be honest, I can barely remember how I survived all of these, but what I am most certain about is that I was this timid kid who would rather sit in the corner and study, mind my own business, and be the seven-year old girl that I was supposed to be.
It wasn’t until I was in late grade school when I tried coming out of my tiny bubble little by little. I started participating in academic and co-curricular activities and teachers would always recognize me for my efforts. Needless to say, I became quite the overachiever until I graduated from high school.
However, the accomplishments and experiences that I gained in the past years did not really make me the confident adolescent that I wanted to be. I still wasn’t the social butterfly type; I was still the same shy girl who would not talk to anyone unless he/she has successfully penetrated my familiarity zone, a.k.a. you are a family member, a relative, a friend, a classmate, or a teacher.
The struggle to socialize has been a burden until I was in college. But when I started working, things have finally begun to change. It was a light at the end of the tunnel! I started moving out of the zone that has imprisoned me for years. Coincidentally, all five employers that I’ve worked for required me to up my social skills to the level, which will make chief executives want to waste their time conversing with me. It was a bit awkward when I was starting because of the already obvious reason. But eventually, I saw myself evolving from the anti-social girl to Ms. Congeniality. It also helped that I was pressured to perform outstandingly in my jobs. I never settled for anything less.
Working for both the media and public relations industries has especially helped me overcome my once fear of socializing. I was able to build the confidence that is necessary to establish connections and expand my network. A supposedly formal interview between me and a CEO or a brand ambassador became just a normal chit-chat as if we’ve been friends for a long time. I would like to think the difference in treatment came with the job, but honestly, I think it was because I was able to develop the confidence that earned these people’s respect. I may not be the best one in the group, but I know I am capable of throwing out intelligent questions that would make them think. Fortunately, some of them, especially clients from my previous PR stints, even became my friends. We were able to perform our jobs professionally while at the same time share our life stories over cake and coffee.
The journey to where I am now wasn’t easy at all. But I would like to think that the challenges that I experienced in establishing good connections and relationships with other people have taught me to persevere and work harder to be able to do well in my craft. Although it took me a while to develop my social skills, I can already confidently say that I have the ammunition to keep me battle-ready whenever there’s a need to go out there and face the world. I owe it to my past experiences that I have made a lot of progress in this part of my life. It was never an easy ride, but the journey was definitely worth it.