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Do What Works

My First Dance as a Teenager

Paralyzed by fear, I just stood there with my friends. I needed to do it, but was just too afraid. Yet doing nothing was also not an option, I knew I had to do something. So I succumbed to my fear and kept doing what I already knew would not work. A perfect example of self sabotage!

As a kid, I was painfully shy. But despite my hopes to the contrary, it didn't improve when I became a teenager. In fact, it got worse, especially when it came to talking to attractive members of the opposite sex - girls!

It's been shown that splitting boys and girls apart at school simply exacerbates their difficulties of relating to each other, and this was certainly true for me. When you are denied the opportunity to be around the opposite sex as an adolescent (
a secret of success in successful relating), how can you know how to relate? You don't get any experience.

Even the idea of talking to a girl I found attractive was enough to set butterflies jumping in my stomach. The whole tribe went into overdrive when the time came to do it; what if she rejected me?

Learning to Dance

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The boys only grammar school which I attended announced that ballroom dancing classes were to start soon. This sounded like a good way to overcome my shyness and change my life, I signed up for the weekly lessons.

Towards the end of term, we got a chance to try out our newly found skills. The instructors organized a dance at the girls school just down the road, St. Martin's in the Field. It was in the evening, we would have a chance to go home first and change into something more attractive than our school uniform. We all decided to go.

It was a major battle to find something to wear, at that tender age, looking good was so important. That meant no school blazer and the crucial
secret of success: no bell bottom trousers. But my father was a control freak: I wanted fifteen inch bottoms on the new trousers he was buying for me, and he decided that sixteen inches was the right size. So he ignored me, and had the trouser cuffs made at sixteen inches. I refused to wear them!

Who should I Ask to Dance?

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At the dance, the number of girls I found myself attracted to was amazing, they all looked sexy and beautiful! They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and for me, the opposite was even more true. But which one should I ask to dance?

Eventually, I plucked up enough courage to ask. After all, that's what I had come to do, and managed a total of four dances by the end of the evening. This may sound brave, but it wasn't - not in the slightest. I didn't do what works, I instead asked the only one I felt comfortable with! All four dances were with the one woman I knew already, the female dancing instructor!

It was certainly not that I didn't find any of the girls attractive, just that I couldn't pluck up enough courage to ask somebody I didn't know to dance with me.

Do What Works, not what Doesn't Work!

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So I started practicing, opening conversations with complete strangers in an effort to overcome my shyness. I'm glad to be able to report that, to a large extent, the problem has disappeared. But I can still have butterflies talking to a very beautiful woman.

Food for Thought

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"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid,
but he who conquers that fear."

- Nelson Mandela, born 1918, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, South African President and Statesman

© Copyright worldwide Cris Baker, All rights reserved. Republishing welcomed under Creative Commons noncommercial no derivatives license preserving all links intact, so share this widely!
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