Hello, I’m Amit and I thought I was a shy person. Keeping all other factors constant, I’m a very reserved person. Growing up I moved a lot. And I’m still moving. One of the side-effects of constantly hopping around was that I never really found my roots. Or at least that’s what I was telling myself all these years.
My prime excuse for being shy was that I had trouble establishing roots at one place and so I never felt as if I belonged to one place; one group of people; one nationality or one culture. So I shied away from many things. I shied away from asking the waitress a question about my food in the restaurant; I shied away from asking a beautiful girl out on a date; I shied away from meeting my professors during office-hours; I shied away from making calls to strangers; I shied away from publishing my writings on the internet. Plus, being an Indian guy who acts like a Brit, talks like an American and does almost nothing like an Indian did not help much with my little identity crisis either. But then one day I stopped and asked myself why does it have to be so difficult?
See, the default setting for Amit Sonawane is introversion. Absolutely. If given a choice over going to a loud, crowded club over a nice intimate dinner with some close friends, I’d choose the latter almost every single day of the year. However, I realized that I was confusing my introversion with shyness. Here’s how:
Introvert: a person who has a strong internal locus of control and prefer internal stimuli over external. They recharge their batteries, so to speak, by being in their own company and being stimulated from within by reading, contemplating, writing, cooking, running, fishing or whatever else they like. Don’t be surprised if you find an introvert at a bar or a social-hangout too. We love ‘people-watching’. So, in short, introvert is not shy.
Shy: shyness consists of a fear of negative judgement. Being shy can be painful, emotionally more so than physically. So, again, not an introvert.
I started reading more about this and realized something, which I consider very profound. I realized that all my life I was trying to find my roots. All my life I was trying to find a place to belong to, a group of people to call friends-for-life, a national/ethnic identity to call mine. However, I realized that I was a monkey who had forgotten about his ‘monkeyness’ and had started identifying himself more with the trees he lived on. Just like the tree I was on, I wanted to grow big and tall in one place, spread my roots deep and far, and grasp tightly everything beneath my feet. But monkeys aren’t made to grow roots. It was definitely an interesting day when I realized that my biggest excuse in life was actually non-existent.
So, naturally, as any other monkey would react I started throwing shit at other people. I began blaming my dad for changing so many jobs, which had led me to move so much. I began blaming my past relationships for not giving me enough freedom to move about. I began blaming everyone but myself.
And like with most realizations in life I reached the third and last stage, reformation. The former two being: realization and retaliation. I was done living under a false pretense of shyness, I was done slinging blame on others and trying to change my external circumstances, and I was ready to make some serious changes within myself. Keyword: within – again goes to show my strong internal locus of control.
This led to the sport I call, the social-risk-taking. I began taking little social-risks everyday. Why do I call it a sport? Well, because sometimes I won, and sometimes I lost. Sometimes I lost very badly and publicly. The monkey inside me grew bolder everyday when I realized that I did not have to stay on the same tree if I don’t like the fruits on it. I made myself available the option of jumping from tree to tree. Often, even revisiting a tree or two.
Until August 17th, 2012, I would have told you that I am still a practicing monkey. But today I can proudly say that I am officially a monkey I am meant to be. Since landing in Santiago, I have taken social-risks every day. I had made it my mission to meet one new person here every day for the first two weeks. And now almost three weeks in, I have personally met and gotten to know at least a couple dozen people. I am constantly learning and expanding my mental and physical boundaries; I am dating a beautiful Chilena who the old Amit would have never ever mustered the courage to ask out; I am taking out CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs for beers and we’re on first-name basis and, yet, I have not flinched even once in Chile.
The mantra is: say ‘hell yeah’ to every single opportunity or invitation that comes my way.
And so that’s how I stopped being ‘shy’ and became a monkey. I am really enjoying this new tree that I have found. The fruits are plentiful, the shade is peaceful, and the branches are long and fun. I know that someday I will get tired of playing on this tree and jump to another tree but I am not thinking about that day. All I have now is, well, right now. So, I am just going to focus on the present and hope for the best.
Oh and speaking of social-risk-taking, I have done something crazy again. Something that will conquer another reservation about being on the camera and going public. Remember how I told you guys about some interesting projects that I had planned after Fishing Buddha? Well, the first one in that series is almost ready to be revealed. I love writing but I wanted to create a platform where I can talk and discuss with my readers and friends, face to face. So, my co-founder @nickbarraza and I are announcing The Stoa Show.
More on TSS as we get closer to our launch day. I hope you all are doing well and thanks for reading.