I've been hearing a phrase come up in my life again and again "Talking with you feels so easy and natural; you make me feel so comfortable."
I chuckle every time I hear someone say it and I've heard it from several women lately. It's funny because there's nothing natural about it for me; it's a cultivated skill that I've had to learn and practice. Reading people comes naturally to me, but the opposite isn't true. I've had to learn to overcome my natural shyness, to transmit body signals of calm and confidence in an environment that may feel entirely foreign and vaguely scary.
Because of this, I've always felt I bit of imposture syndrome. After all, if others are feeling natural, then this should be something that comes naturally to me instead of something I work at.
I admitted the truth to the most recent person who complimented me on my "natural calm," and I expected to hear how she felt tricked or mislead. On the contrary, she told me that because it was a struggle for me and that I'd put so much work into myself that the experience was actually more meaningful. She knew that to give her this feeling I had to confront and overcome natural deficits. The effort that I'd put into cultivating my experience made it more authentic.
That sentiment is not one that I'd heard before or even. I'd always seen my journey to overcome natural shyness and social awkwardness as a stain on my personality. Thinking about it, I'd flashback to preschool and being the awkward kid. It'd never occurred to me that knowing the work that it took to get here would be something others would celebrate.
If she's reading this, thank you, and thank you to all of you in this community who make me feel welcome. You are all quickly becoming my family of choice.