I promised myself a few weeks back that I’d devote a Thursday post on here to one of my previous posts. Problem is, though, that I had a bugger of a time thinking of what I want to follow up. So, I went through my list of previous postings, found a post title I almost forgot about (easy to do when you’ve written 142 posts), and clicked on it to read it again…
And it was then that I realized that particular post is very well suited to do a follow-up on. The post from July was titled “Freezing up,” and it involved presenting myself. No, not as Allison. Here’s how I described it then:
I mean making a professional presentation to others, be it in a speech, a phone call, or even a simple one-on-one conversation, especially to total strangers. I am horrible at making a presentation, and I wish I wouldn’t freeze up so easily when having to do so (hence the title of this post).
And it’s a (queasy) feeling I still hold 5 months later. Of course, that uneasiness doesn’t transfer to my online world. Here’s what I also said in that earlier post:
Does that “printed word” type of confidence transfer to how I present my feminine side? Well, I suppose it does. Or, maybe showing my feminine side online (through this blog, on Twitter, on Flickr, etc.) allows my male mode to have at least a modicum of self-confidence. It’s just that my mind has to learn how to transfer that feminine self-confidence to my professional life, so that I can make a good impression and not have to worry and fret… and hammer and haw.
The more I think about that comment, the more I find it actually applies to something I’ve been doing as my male mode self: Volunteering. I won’t go into too much detail, lest I jeopardize my male side’s professionalism, but I’ve been devoting volunteer time working in schools in our area. Before you jump to conclusions, don’t think for a single second it involves me dressing up en femme and carousing around impressionable minds (I’m not that kind of a woman).
With that said, my volunteer work at these schools does involve making presentations. When I first started working this role, I was somewhat nervous. Luckily, I do rely on a pre-planned manual I can rely on and, yeah, just read verbatim. However, it’s not like I adhere strictly to the book: I do improvise as the proceedings go along. It helps that I have done this presentation several times in the past, making it seem like old hat. Well, perhaps it’s a little too old hat, but that’s neither here nor there; the point here is that with review and preparation and repetition (anything to make a good impression, mind you), I’ve gained at least a little bit of self-confidence when making a presentation. Mind you, I’m still not perfect at it and sometimes I still do hem and haw, but it does make me feel better about my presentation skills.
Well, to an extent anyway. It helps that, for one, I’m not freezing stiff in front of a camera, as I mentioned in my earlier post. It also helps that I’m in front of an audience that isn’t as judgmental as, say, adults. And with that I talk about an arena where I’m still not confident: Dating, or speed dating, to be more precise. For the unfamiliar, speed dating is the process where singles get together in a room and hold one-on-one get-acquainted conversations for 5 minutes or so, after which a bell or whistle or whatever sounds and the men get up and go to the next table, where the next woman awaits for another new conversation. (All the speed dating occasions I’ve done have involved meeting the opposite sex and involved the men getting up from one table to the next, which I don’t mind at all as I do need the exercise.) In essence, you have multiple mini-dates in one night, and if you’re interested in a person and the feeling is mutual, each others’ contact information is forwarded after the event.
Why do I bring up speed dating here? Well, on a self dare, I went to a speed dating event a couple of weeks ago. I admit I hadn’t done the “5-minute first impression” thing in a long, long time (“Uh, what year is this?”), and on this particular evening the rust certainly showed. Boy, oh boy, did it show. (*insert frowning face here*) I had 5-minute conversations with 15 women, none of whom I made a match with. Yeah, that’s how it turned out.
I guess my lack of success that evening should not have been a surprise to me. In the handful of times I’ve done the speed dating thing over the years, it has resulted in only one match. You read that right: Only once did someone else find me interesting enough to have their contact information sent to me, and even that resulted in a night out with their friends. (Hmm, were they trying to pawn me off to someone else?)
Even with that clear lack of success, I’ve kept doing the speed dating thing, in part to keep brushing up on my interaction skills and in the hope that, somewhere somehow, someone will take a shine to me. While I know I should have learned how to transfer some of this self-confidence I get as Allison into the real world, I really find it hard to dig deep inside myself and find that ability to charm someone when I’m not wearing a female persona. I’m sure there’s some sort of coaching avenue out there that I could employ in an effort to impress that potential special someone. But at least I know that though speed dating is like a game of chance (nothing but strikeouts one night, a hit or two the next), and my horrendous batting average really has affected my self-confidence in charming others, I know I’m at least taking the chance to do so.