Toastmasters has helped me gain a better sense of value in communication. I see the importance of it on a greater scale. The world revolves around good communication.
If we are not good communicators, how can we possibly progress in our relationships? In our careers? In our private and public lives?
So, this club has made me realize the utmost importance of good communication skills. And I have excelled in this realm in recent years.
But there was always a kryptonite for me when I was in school, and it was group discussions. For whatever reason, I’d be shyer speaking in public and had trouble getting my thoughts across.
This started probably in high school. I’d get good grades all-across the board, but the one recommendation for improvement in my report cards was always to participate more.
My class participation was always the weakness that I needed to improve upon in my teacher’s eyes. And I commend them for telling it as it is.
Even recently, I participate in discussions during my meditation and philosophy classes. We are in a group and we share our thoughts about the week in general.
I feel like I’ve made some progress in sharing my thoughts. I’m volunteering more in group surroundings and Toastmasters has made me feel more comfortable with speaking in public.
But in general, it’s just all about practicing more and direct experience. Directly contributing to the discussion without worry of how the group thinks of you.
I think these direct contribution experiences have helped me gain more comfort while speaking in the middle of group discussions.
But regardless of how much or how little I speak in these discussion formats, I feel like some of my peers still see me as the quiet guy. The guy who talks very little in the forum.
There are other people who also don’t talk that much. But for some reason, they always label me as the “quiet guy”. And for a while, I tried my best to shed this label.
To speak more frequently on more topics in more discussion forums. To show my peers that I was beating this label and no longer considered to be “quiet”.
But regardless of how much or how little I speak in groups, my friends would always see me as the quiet one. The one that doesn’t talk as much in group surroundings.
It’s really all perception. And I’ve gradually learned that I can’t control how other people view me to be. My strengths. My weaknesses. My personality.
Everything that I am or have will be seen differently in other people’s eyes. And there’s no grudge nor hatred towards them.
For some reason, I would always be labeled as the quiet guy, even though I’m participating more in discussion sessions these days.
It’s hard to shed a label that was pre-determined for you. Regardless of whether it be “quiet”, “loud”, “annoying”, “smart”. Everyone has labels that they use to identify other people.
They have a pre-determined structure in their minds as to how this individual should or should not act. And that’s okay. It’s not the worse scenario and certainly not the end of the world.
So over the course of my years in this world, I’ve gradually learned to not worry about these labels. If I want to participate in a discussion session, I will.
If I just want to relax and chill while listening to other people speak, then that is absolutely fine as well.
If I speak more in certain cases, that is fine. If I don’t want to speak in other cases, then I’ll be “quiet”.
It’s all okay. I’ve started to not care too much about what other people think of me. I guess that’s the main point here. Besides, there are lots of worse things in this world than being seen as the quiet guy.
Everyone’s perception is different and I have no control over that. Nor do I want to control that aspect of people’s lives. Let them be them. And let me be me.
So, don’t worry about the labels that are thrust upon you by others in society. It’s not their fault. Labels are just a means to better understand the world in which we live in. But, they are not the ultimate decider in anyone’s well-being.
Release control of the things that you can’t control. And control what you can, which is yourself. Learn to accept yourself for who you are, and try to see the labels as a mere difference in perception.
Quiet or loud. Big or small. Black or white. It’s all just perception. Let that not hold you back from living the life that you want to live.