Let’s be honest, I’ve been awkward my whole life. I’ve laughed at the wrong time, floated off in conversation, tried to slink away while chatting, misspoke with like some odd fact or joke, and all kinds of other hilariously dumb things. I’ve done a pretty solid job at managing that part of myself, but now I’m facing a new challenge. Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of really cool stuff, and one thing I’ve been struggling with is showing up completely and authentically in these fabulous newfound situations and just…showing up confidently. This might sound like a humble brag but please understand, when you’re naturally awkward, life can get weird real quick.

It doesn’t help that the people I’ve met over the last few months, I feel, are completely out of my league. They’re accomplished, ridiculously educated, influential, powerful and in many ways STOOPID wealthy. In conversation I find myself staring over their heads (or at their nose) and asking, what do I have to offer here? I know I should feel confident in the moment because at the very least, I’m well-dressed and have a cool role I can speak on. But yeaahhhh, that still doesn’t stop me from feeling all insecure high-schooler or like an outsider.

The HistoryMakers Evening with Debra Lee – 2019

Am I crazy? Do you ever think about any of this stuff when you’re around “important” people? What do I have to offer? It rings like a church bell in my subconscious, but now I’ve been forcing myself to do a gut check. Smart– check. Amazing dad jokes– double check. A pretty interesting background– triple check. Ding ding dingggggg, I’ve got a lil sumn sumn to work with here!

HRC Campaign Gala – 2019

It’s hard to believe channeling self-confidence can be such a challenge in the moment, but it is. Imposter’s syndrome is live and well in these streets folks but I refuse to let it take me out the game. And no more yelling “RETREAT, RETREAT!” or suffering from word vomit when people are simply trying to have casual conversation. I am aggressively working to just be. How? By slowing down, doing my gut check, and practicing these 5 things I picked up between my therapist and my mentor:

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Straighten your posture.

3. Pause to think before you respond.

4. Try to recall something you’re proud of yourself about. (You’re validating yourself here.)

5. If you get really nervous…excuse yourself to a quiet space to breathe a bit and gather your thoughts.

Afrotech – 2019

This all might sound a bit goofy, but social anxiety is real and manifests differently for people–especially if you feel weighed down by expectations from others. Getting more comfortable in your skin and confident takes work, but it’s well worth it. I’m finally starting to get a glimpse of the other side and it’s absolutely liberating.

Afrotech Beats Party – 2019

Have any of you dealt with social anxiety, imposter syndrome, or even just being plain awkward? How do you deal? <3

-D.Wright

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