As a child I was painfully shy. But as a met good friends I knew I didn’t want it to hold me back for the rest of my life. They showed me that good people can appreciate you, despite your flaws. You just have to let them experience who you are. You need to try to be sociable. So although this brain injury has shuffled my deck of cards, I’m trying again.
I built a career on being sociable.
I was never going to be outgoing enough to be a holiday rep for a 18-30 club experience, but I wasn’t bad with people. Having learned the ropes with the toughest audience, the general public, during my 10 years in retail. I went from serving customers and squeaking the total price, to confidently traffic stopping people for a make over and selling them products they hadn’t ever tried before.
From there I moved into positions where business development was a big part of the role. Engaging with decision makers in businesses, even when they said they didn’t have the time to talk. By not being aggressive, instead sociable and approachable, I was able to win them over. They bought into me.
How my brain injury robbed me of that.
I didn’t know who I was anymore when my brain injury happened. I knew my name and history, but I didn’t recognise my personality. As I regained some insight, I was able to see how odd my behaviour was at times, but couldn’t stop it.
Suddenly there was so much about me I didn’t like. Not being able to trust myself to be “normal”, made me retract from the world. It became lonely, and I found I was assuming the world thought the worst of me.
But my friends proved me wrong and I’m trying again.
I started getting in touch with those old school friends who I hadn’t seen in years. They had already seen me, warts and all, growing up so I didn’t feel I had anything to hide. And again they showed me the same life lessen they taught me all those years ago. They didn’t care about my faults, they were more interested in who I am.
So I’ve put myself back in training. (No I haven’t enrolled on a course, I just have to impress the harshest examiner, me.) Random acts of kindness, win people over the fastest, and often stay with them for a lifetime. Whilst I’m not giving away money to change peoples lives, I am offering my compliments.
I was in a queue (or as my American friends would say, a line) in a coffee shop. The lady ahead of me had incredible nails. Expertly painted bright colours with glitter over the top. These days I don’t do anything with my nails, but I admired how lovingly they were done. Then it occurred to me that as these nails made a statement, she must be proud of them.
So just as her coffee was being served I said, “By the way, I love your nails.” She was a little surprised, but replied with “Oh thanks, they need redoing really, but I do them myself and I just haven’t had time.” As us Brits struggle to take compliments, and feel the need to be very modest about everything, this was a positive response. I’m sure she would have gone away feeling pleased that someone had admired her handy work. (See what I did there?!)
This is just the start.
I know we didn’t get into a deep and meaningful conversation. But I would like to think by me trying to be sociable, I gave her something to smile about. My aim is to prove to myself that strangers don’t notice or care about my brain injury. They care about the impact this person makes on them in that moment in time. So I want to try to make it a positive one where ever I can.
Other articles you may like:
- Feeling engaged? Brain injury = stuck in neutral.
- Friends agony of my brain injury I didn’t let her help with.
- “Yes, I know you..”, or do I? Brain injury makes a mishmash of my memory again.
- Other blogs to watch – links to guest blogs I have written on others sites.
Do you find it hard to be sociable after your brain injury? Or have you got tips on how to overcome it?