These words are seared into my head each time I get dressed thanks to my Cousin. Though originally spoken about a specific situation, I know it applies to every day life.
And, they were repeated as we discussed the first of my “practice dates” – a few outings with others just to get me used to one-on-one social interactions with people I don’t know all that well.
And, it starts with how I’m dressed. “Don’t dress stupid!”
When I showed up for church yesterday (the morning of the practice date), I was informed – “No, not this.” But, with a little tweaking, my outfit was coffee date ready.
Cousin’s main focus was the possible awkward introduction, how the ordering/paying should go down, posture, conversation, and, of course, how I dress (ok, so it was a lot to focus on, but definitely needed…I’ll probably be needing reminders about some).
Honestly, it’s a little hard to role-play how a date might go when the person sitting across from you is your cousin. Though things like this happen in movies and T.V. shows, I felt just as strange experiencing it as I do when I watch them, but I just went with it.
All of my career training and practice thus far have been how to simply listen in one-on-one situations, and an attempt to teach body language. I have found my therapeutic style for how I sit and communicate, and I am confident and comfortable with it.
All of the conversations I have been having lately have made me realize that I need to be bringing in some of those techniques into day to day, like mirroring the other person, and listening for the right cues because:
1 – I just listen. I wait until a person has completed all their thoughts before I jump in. Not only because I am somewhat trained to as a therapist, but because I have this irrational aversion to being perceived as rude. So, as Cousin chatted about interests, I missed many opportunities to jump in with questions to allow her to expand. And, by the end, I wasn’t sure what to ask about.
2 – As I should know by now, but definitely realized yesterday: I often suck at social cues…in social situations, I can be completely oblivious to what someone means by saying certain things in certain ways, or I get too self-conscious to respond. You may as well just call me Sheldon Cooper sometimes… [See “repeat Home Depot customer” from my Never Been Kissed post].
By the end of the night, I felt a little as if I had just left one of my Clinical Skills classes that taught me how to sit and communicate with people.
And that’s the beauty here, at this stage of everything: it’s all about building my confidence and sharpening my people skills. Some may see this process as silly, some as foolish. Some may find it inspirational, some entertaining.
For me, it’s just about breaking out of my shell, and being willing to become all that I want to be, all that I was created to be, all that God has called me to be.
God did not create me to live a life of fear & timidity, so I will allow Him to use whatever avenue opens up to remind me that I am created to be: Beautiful, Confident, & Courageous.
In my professional life. In my family life. And, one day, in my dating life.
Final thought: Tonight, as I do on every Monday night, I huddled up in my bed under lots of blankets (because, seriously, it’s freezing outside!), and settled in for half an hour of comedy to the tune of How I Met Your Mother. [It’s one of my favorite shows…and we are getting so close to seeing that infamous meeting! – please forgive the fangirling].
A scene in tonight’s episode really caught my attention: As Barney (a character whose wedding this entire season is written around) teaches two young men “how to live”, he includes “suiting up”.
During this exchange, one of the nameless characters says:
There’s more to his rant, but I stopped there because, yeah, I know the feeling… just replace “girl” with “guy” and I appreciate the sentiment… I can barely talk to someone, why work on the outfit?
Barney teaches the guys it’s about the whole package: dressing to the best you possible and learning to talk to someone.
Just like the guy in the show, I can often only see one of my obstacles: my inability to talk…
But people like Cousin (or Barney), realize that when you get dressed to your best, you feel more confident. When you feel more confident, it becomes easier to talk to others.
So, while Barney has the mantra: “Suit Up!”, thanks to Cousin, my new mantra is: “Don’t Dress Stupid!”