To continue with my rant from the previous post, I'd like to record here a couple more things that I'd consider as out of the ordinary for me. But more than just activities, the things I'm writing about in this post deal more with challenging myself to see things in new ways, i.e., in ways that I personally have never done before. Some of these "new" ways excite me, some of them make me slightly uncomfortable, some scare the life out of me. But ultimately, I found them all to be insightful and enriching. Seeing things through different lenses opens up new dimensions and possibilities that I've never otherwise considered.
Possibility 1: "You Never Know Who You Will Meet"
Last week, I attended the Sunday mass at Fisher House, the first Sunday mass after the Easter break. The church organised a Welcome Back reception after the service, to give a chance for people to catch up, to meet new people, and to mingle around over coffee/tea and cakes/cookies. As Sister Ann was delivering the announcement, I was thinking to myself: "Maybe I should go. It's a good way to meet people." When the mass ended, I walked out of the chapel, right past the room where the reception was held, and paused for a brief moment in front of the sign that said, "This way to the Welcome Back reception. You never know who you will meet." Okay, I should go, I told myself.
But I didn't. I went straight home.
I was haunted by my failure to resist the temptation to stay within my comfort zone at Fisher House, so when the coordinator for the REAL Centre sent an email to all members asking if we'd like to attend the upcoming meeting online or in-person, I opted for in-person. To 'punish' myself for not forcing myself to socialise at the Welcome Back reception, I made a commitment to do at least one of these things: 1) ask a question or two after the speakers' presentation; 2) stay back for coffee and cakes; 3) have a chat with at least one person (the person must be someone whom I don't already know).
I didn't manage to do number 1), but I did number 2) and 3) and was so proud of myself. Indeed, I never know who I will meet. One of the people I decided to have a chat with over coffee turned out to be someone who directed me towards an epiphany of some sort.
I've engaged myself in a number of quite interesting activities lately, mostly out of curiosity, but also out of an urge to challenge myself to do things that I'm not very comfortable with. Like mingling with people and speaking in public. I always have social anxiety issues, though I know some people refuse to believe that when I told them. But it is what it is, and I'm not lying. Which is why I feel quite proud of myself for being able to do some of these things in the past couple of weeks.
Activity 1: Performing Your Research Workshop (which feels more like Acting 101 to me)
I signed up for this session hosted by Cambridge University Public Engagement, because I thought it would give me some insights on how different media/platforms can be used to disseminate research. I expected the session to be about how people use performances like theatres, artistic shows, storytelling, poetry recitation, or musical performances to convey research findings - maybe something similar to what Simone Eringfeld does. But it turned out to be more like a workshop for effective communication, which teaches you about eloquence, voice projection, posture, breathing, and stuffs like that.
It wasn't what I expected, but I wasn't disappointed either. The instructor was a professional actress and a storyteller, so the tips and advice were very practical and useful, especially for someone like me who struggles with stage-fright and speaking in public. I like the tips on effective breathing that can help me calm down when I'm nervous. I also like the exercises on improving articulation. One of my favourites was trying to explain something to someone in a minute and then asking that person to tell me how many chunks of information they heard. That practice certainly opened my eyes to the importance of being able to explain something clearly, and in an organised manner. I know I struggle with this a lot, but this workshop helped me realise that there is something that I can do about it. Another fun and easy practice that I really like was saying tongue-twisters in different emotions (e.g., I had to say "She sells seashells by the seashore" happily, or sadly, or angrily, or disgustedly - and my friend would have to guess what emotions I was trying to convey). The tongue-twisters helped with improving my articulation (I tend to stutter when I'm nervous), and I found including the "emotions" element (which are totally not related to the tongue-twisters at all!) somewhat improved my confidence to speak. I didn't know how/why it happened, but it did.