People are often surprised to hear that I am shy at heart. Yes, it's true. Hard to believe, I'm sure – but true all the same. Being the picked on kid growing up, meant that I walked around in constant fear of people noticing me. Because if they noticed me, they picked on me. And so when attention turned to me in class I stammered. My neck got red. My pulse raced.
I was a horrible hugger my whole life. Friends and family would tease me by trying to capture me for a hug, just to watch my distressed reaction.
I got over all of this in college. Blame it on the beer or "liquid courage" is it has been called. I'm not proud, just honest. It was here that I grew in confidence and turned from being the quiet one to the Jim Belushi one that everyone wanted at their parties. And every year after that, my confidence grew and I became more outgoing, more comfortable in social settings, and eventually brave enough to stand on a stage as a motivational speaker.
But I am still shy at heart. I still walk into a room of strangers and my heart pounds. I still look out on an audience and my stomach clenches with worry that they will not accept me. I would still rather do stomach crunches than attend a cocktail party where I must walk around and make small talk with other couples. I still stand in the middle of thousands of people and hug necks and exchange dreams, and long to draw away and retreat to my hotel room. I still find myself craving to crawl into a corner where nobody notices me.
And what a beautiful gift I received when I read Seth Godin's blog post this week called "Sea of Strangers." How eloquently he put my feelings into words. And so today I want to share his post with you – or specifically to those of you who need to hear this right now. May it bring you encouragement like it did me.