This week is Strategic Investment Days for all students taking Strategic Management. We were mixed and spat out into 25 tables of 8 (4 from the English section and 4 from the French section). I was put with a great group of people, really. I hardly knew any of them, which is always fun. This is a chance to make some new non-Asian friends (I should really stop saying this)! Unfortunately though, we were there to work together and not play a game of “let’s get to know each other!”
When it was time to do our first case study, I realized that my confidence level has dropped down to a big fat goose egg.
I don’t think I have ever felt this unsure of myself before in a working environment. Usually, I am the one who pulls my group. Then again, that is with people I know. With people I don’t know, though- I turn into a sheep. While all 7 of them are yapping away at comparing occupancy rate, ADR, supply and demand, I’m sitting there… occasionally nodding in agreement with that person who is making a point, or listening intently by making intense eye-contact to he who is explaining something.
I don’t know what it is, though. This is such a foreign feeling for me and I am trying to learn how to deal with it. The only downside is (if you would call it a downside)- the feeling doesn’t stay because the second day (which was today) was better. I began to feel more at ease with the lot, and I think I will gradually begin to feel more comfortable speaking up as the week goes by. But the initial feeling… This is why I need to write about it pronto so that I can deal with yesterday’s feelings.
You know- put me somewhere, anywhere- and tell me to make myself at home. If they speak English or Mandarin, I will feel completely comfortable in my own skin. In fact, my dad brought me to a social playground event this March in Shanghai. I hardly knew what they were talking about (sustainability and then some), hardly knew anybody (except my dad- everybody knew him though), and as awkward as it felt in the beginning, it got much better at the end of the day.
Yesterday though, I literally wanted the ground to open and swallow me up or just open up so I could fall through it or have an eagle swoop in and grab me with its claws. Anything to just get out of feeling like a complete imbecile. It was a complete shock when I realized this (another side-effect of conscious living). I was staring at my laptop and thinking to myself: God these people must think I’m an absolute dumbfuck. Even then, I couldn’t bring myself to speak up. Simply because I didn’t know what to say and had no idea what was going on in the case study.
First impressions mean everything to me. I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant when I first reached the table. But then this guy goes around introducing himself and asking our names. First big mistake there. I really don’t think it’s that hard (I said it what, at least 5 times?) and they still couldn’t get my name right. Why do I always feel like the freak at the lunch table who doesn’t have a proper name? No. I should not feel that way. I should be proud of where I come from! (I also got asked the horrid question- do you not have an English name? Why?) I wanted to be funny about it and said “call me whatever you want”. I should have just said “call my YX” and at least I’ll be someone to them. Second, I think I gave off the vibe that I wasn’t very outgoing as I like to cross my arms when I sit. I think that is an act of self-defense; I actually do it quite often. And I don’t mean to! I really don’t. I really think it’s a subconscious thing or a self-defense mechanism for me to do that. Naturally, I was completely freaking out on the inside (God my armpits were soaked) at what everybody thought of me.
I still can’t figure out what the hell happened. I think when I realized that I did not know anybody at the table, I froze. I became numb. Most people would jump at the idea of meeting new people (and I usually do too), but I think with the pressure of keeping up appearances and having to work at the same time really stumped me. I think it was the working part that I was most uncomfortable about. See- I don’t think I’m a very smart person. So when I was put into this situation and listening to these people analyzing everything, I felt dumb. First, nothing came to my head when the teacher let us go about working on the assignment. Other people had a million ideas whizzing around in their minds and they were vocalizing it. Mine? Complete blank. Second, I felt like I had nothing smart to contribute. I didn’t feel like my opinions mattered at all, especially if I were at a table where people were so much smarter than me. Third, I felt useless. I sound like I’m bashing myself on purpose, but to me, this is completely normal.
So I guess that concludes my post. I wish I could end it with a “here’s the answer to why you are socially awkward” paragraph, but I really have no fucking clue what happened. I know this much: it’s all to do with self-confidence, something I obviously don’t have. But how do I build it up, especially when I have to work with strangers so that they don’t think they have an idiot on their team?
P.S. All GIFs from whatshouldwecallmetumblr