Notice and Be Noticed
By Cinse Bonino
Some of us like to stand out in a crowd. Others would rather not. The truth is we all want to be liked, (not to mention loved and adored), for being who we are. In order for this to happen we have to be known. First to begin the This can be scary. It can also be exhilarating!
For the STAND OUT portion of our program: Which of the following statements is most like you?
1. I feel comfortable saying exactly what I think in a group of other teens.
Good for you! I'm glad you aren't shy to speak your mind. It pays to be an individual in life, but sometimes the pay stinks! You can be teased for what you think or how you choose to dress. There will always be some people who think that you are saying they are stupid or wrong just because you disagree with them. NOT true! The key is to ignore the hecklers and maintain your grace and poise at all times. Think of yourself as being on an interview show on TV. If your goal IS to make yourself feel smarter by making other people look stupid then we'd all appreciate it if you keep your mouth closed. If your intention is to share your view and to be open to hear the views of others then we all want YOU at our next party!!! Keep standing out girl; you deserve to be heard.
Some key phrases to use to keep your poise alive:
"I hear what you're saying, and I can understand why you feel that way, but for me..."
"I used to feel the same way but then I thought about the fact that ..."
"That's a really valid point. I agree with you, but the thing that makes it not work for me is..."
"I never looked at it quite that way before; I'm going to have to think about that for awhile."
"Wow, where did you hear that? I didn't know about that. Where can I get more information?
2. I hate it when the spotlight is on me: I just know people will think I'm stupid or geeky.
It can be really hard to speak your mind. I was in a masters class for jazz and blues singers and one woman felt like she was going to throw-up when we each had to scat by ourselves to some bluesy piano music. And she is used to singing in public! The point is that almost everyone gets butterflies, even your favorite performers. So now that you know that you're not alone, do you feel better? Probably not. But you can do some things to help yourself before you speak out, while you speak out, and after you speak out. See if any of these work for you...
Talk to yourself before you talk to others. Give yourself a pep-talk. It can be as simple as "I can do it. I know I can do it." Remind yourself that it' s not going to be the end of the world if you feel a little weird or worried. Try not to have any negative thoughts, but for each one you do have, counter it with a positive thought. If you think, "They're going to thing I'm a total loser." Counter with, "I know how to say what I think without sounding stuck-up."
Breathe! It sounds silly telling someone to breathe, but when we get nervous, we forget. Breathe slowly. If you hear yourself gasping between sentences you 're probably holding your breath. Thinking about and noticing breathing can really help to keep you calm. Check out breathing techniques to practice at home.
Find a friendly face (and have one yourself). As you talk let your eyes roam from one listener's face to the next. When you find a friendly one stay there just a little longer and return to it again before you scan the faces once more. Keep repeating while you're talking. Meanwhile, keep YOUR face friendly. Sometimes when you are nervous or unsure your face can look stuck-up or overly intense. Check yours out in a mirror practice session and try relaxing your facial muscles and looking human!
Use your imagination to make yourself laugh not to make yourself frantic. Once you've said whatever you wanted to say continue to counter any negative thoughts with positive ones. If you imagine the worst from people's reactions, for example assuming that silence means they think you are ridiculous or insane, counter that thought with a little humor and think... "At least they're not asking me to leave. Come to think of it, at least they haven't left!" Remind yourself that you are still alive and that next time will probably be easier. Use breathing and slow face scanning to calm yourself down. Good luck speaking out!
3. I only feel comfortable giving my opinion if I know others will agree with me.
Whatever you do, please, please, oh please don't say the opposite of what you really think just so you can agree with everyone else. This is a sure recipe for losing yourself. You are very precious. You are! Simply because you are unique and different from everyone else. If you try to be the same you stop being you. Better to listen and keep your opinions to yourself than to pretend to be someone you are not. Once you start hiding who you are you'll never know if people would like the real you or not. Give the real you a chance. Push her gently out into the spotlight and see what she can do. Here are some ways to help her get started...
Ask questions. When you ask a question, you are part of a conversation or discussion without revealing what your opinion is. You are revealing that you are interested in what's being discussed and that you are willing to consider the opinions of others. If you are asked a question yourself you can say you're not sure how you feel yet or you can do the English paper trick of pointing out the positive and negative aspects of a particular view.
Be an appreciative audience. You can also practice speaking by voicing your reactions to thinks that other people say. For example, "That sounds really amazing." or "Wow, I didn't know that." are two ways to be involved without putting too much of yourself out there. Practice saying a little more each time you get an opportunity and before you know it you'll be Chatty Cathy.!
And now for the STAND UP portion of the show... Once again, please choose the statement that best describes you:
1. I never hesitate to stick up for a friend if he or she is being teased or unfairly accused.
I want you for my friend. It's wonderful to have friends that stick up for you. And if you stick up for them usually they stick up for you too. Sometimes you have to be brave to stand up for someone else's rights because yours might get trampled in the process, but a good friendship is worth that, isn't it? Keep being the good friend that you are, but keep these few cautions in mind as well...
Don't endanger anyone. While it's cool to stand up for a friend, sometimes, you can't help them and the best thing to do is to go and get someone who can. Whether they are in physical or mega-emotional danger, if something is coming down that you are powerless to stop or to alter, go get help! Immediately. It's hard to leave someone to go get help, but a friend could bleed to death, be abused, or not be able to leave an angry group unhurt if you stay faithfully by their side instead of moving your butt toward the help they really need. Talk over what you and your friends would do for each other in difficult situations to help you to act with less guilt and worry when the real thing happens.
Be honest. Sometimes no matter how good a friend you are with someone, you still disagree with them. If they end up in trouble or just called on their behavior or attitude and you back them up even though you know they are wrong you could be in danger of losing who you are. Sure, there ARE times when you stick by someone publicly and then privately ask them what the #*&$#!!? they were thinking. That's a choice you might feel you have to make. But I'm talking about things like a friend getting into serious drug or alcohol abuse and you joining in just so they don't feel wrong. Being a friend is a lot like being a parent or a spouse, you can't be there for someone else if you're not there for yourself first. Be true to yourself so that you can be true to your friends.
2. I think getting involved with disagreements or arguements that have nothing to do with me only makes it worse for everyone.
Sounds like you don't want to catch any flack or fallout. Sure, you do have a point. If you stay out of things you usually don't get in trouble or cause unforeseen problems. Here are some thoughts about why it's worth it to step in...
You can learn a lot from an unseen outcome. If you try to help and it doesn't go quite the way you expected then you pick yourself up and remember the parts that DID go right and try to FIGURE OUT why the other parts bombed and get yourself more prepared for the next go round. We'd have no star athletes or platinum albums without practice, and practice includes a lot of mistakes.
Protecting yourself can be a trap. If you protect yourself too well from possible trouble or ridicule you'll find it hard to develop really close friendships. You have to be willing to be a little vulnerable, to get hurt a little in order to show others that you care and to risk them seeing who you really are. It IS worth it. The exception of course is that YOU NEVER EVER risk your personal safety. Always get help if a situation is out of control or too tough for you.
Role playing was designed for you. Grab a few friends and act out scenarios where one of you is put down, picked on, or in trouble and brainstorm together what some good ways would be to handle those situations. If your friends know you care enough to think about this kind of stuff ahead of time, I'm sure they'll forgive you if you aren't as eloquent as an Oscar actress when the real thing happens.
How much you choose to STAND OUT or to STAND UP is up to YOU. No one gets to decide but you. Use your comfort level and the results you want to create as your guide. Experiment and find the way-to-be that works best and feels most right to you.