I sat alone at the table during a networking brunch and all the familiar voices screamed at me in silence. I heard, “No one likes you, you don’t belong here. No one looks like you. You don’t belong.” Every table was full of people chatting away and I picked at my food. Alone.
Just as I was planning to leave, a lady moved from the table next to me and sat in front of me. She introduced herself and we were soon talking about the challenges of what we do. Another lady joined us. And then another. Soon my table was full and I even spoke briefly during that session.
If I had left to avoid awkwardness, I would have missed out on new friends and the speaking opportunity. I was at a songwriting and music camp with my son. During a session, the leader who is a multiple award winner for her songs, coached the students to stop avoiding awkwardness and step out and speak. No one likes to be first. No one wants to mess up.
Yet avoiding awkwardness can rob you of growth. You will fail. You will be embarrassed. But through the awkwardness, the failure and embarrassment are solid gold nuggets called experience and wisdom. No one likes being embarrassed, called out or failing. Yet this is the only pathway to experience that pays off with new opportunities.