Loving Learning By Tiffany

I was home-schooled from 1-12th grade and I had always wished I could go to public school. Being able to have teachers, classmates, prom and a cafeteria. I wanted the full experience that I’ve only read in my many fiction books. Our homeschool curriculum was book based. The Internet had not really taken off yet and if you needed information you went to the library to find a book.  I loved the library and I would read at least two books a week, I had ample time to do so as I had no friends and helicopter parents who were afraid of the world and everything in it.

Growing up I was known as the quiet and shy girl. I never spoke unless required, never contributed to conversations. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say it was that I didn’t know how to say it. One if the things that I had trouble with was efficiently expressing myself through speech. Trying to contribute a conversation felt like trying to Double Dutch and tripping over all of the ropes!  One day I was in the grocery store eavesdropping in a conversation. I then found myself starting to listen to the “technique” should I say of the conversation. How they started the conversation, added to the conversation, ended the conversation and transitioned to a new topic. I took mental notes and tried those techniques out to see what worked and what didn’t. I then, feeling really awkward, tried practicing on people! Sometimes the conversation would be about the weather and other times the person would simply talk about themselves and their life. I definitely felt awkward bleating my conversation starters, which, would often end with that awkward silence that everyone dreads, until I asked another question. I also realized communication is mostly nonverbal my facial expressions and body positions were just as important to what I said.  I realized that I am still a better listener than speaker, but just getting myself out of my comfort zone felt really good and exciting!

About 15 years later I still dissect conversations in my head leaning from calming techniques to facial expressions. I also joined and online speaking club named “Speaker Sisterhood”. Public speaking is the number one fear in America! Practicing public speaking helped me to organize my thoughts and present them so I could feel more comfortable and make connections to others. Everyone has a story and what they have to say is valid. Realizing this in myself is one thing I am consistently learning and practice implementing in my life. I too have thoughts and ideas that are valid and relevant in this world.

I love self-improvement and learning outside of the classroom! Not only am I consistently learning how to improve my speech but also one of the thing I am constantly working on is being brave. Being brave to me is simply doing the things I am fearful to do, the things that are out of my comfort zone such as starting conversations with others. Stating my opinion even if it is not commonly accepted. Through being open to speaking and being brave, I have meet some wonderful people that I may have never meet and have relationships with people I may never have had if I never tried the things that I was scared to do. I am challenging myself every day not to say, “I could never do that” and instead say, “I can give it my best shot!” I try to remember to pat myself on the back for the things I have accomplished and also always try to improve on the things that need work.

Everywhere is a learning opportunity, every interaction and every day is a giant schoolroom. I encourage you to be brave, do the thing you may be scared to do and live your life to your fullest!