The dirty little secret about intimidation

What if I don’t know what to say? What if they are wholly unimpressed with me? What if they just turn away and ignore my introduction? What if my shirt catches fire and I have to run away screaming? These are just a few of the thoughts running through my head when I’m faced with introducing myself to someone new, especially someone I’ve admired from a distance. Approaching a person who seems pretty great is intimidating because, well, I want them to like me.

This line of thinking is more than slightly flawed; it’s crazy, it’s completely self-centered, and (ugliest of all) it assumes the worst about someone before I’ve even said hello. The truth is that this kind of intimidation isn’t even real, it’s a lie I’ve told myself and chosen to believe, a crime I’ve perpetrated against myself and blamed on someone else. “I’d love to meet so-and-so, but I’m really nervous they won’t like me,” is much more honest than, “I’d love to meet so-and-so, but they intimidate me,” but it is also much more difficult to cop to.

Coming to terms with just how ridiculous and selfish I am for being such a slave to these internal manipulations was made easier when I discovered that, for some preposterous reason, there are people who feel intimidated by me. And if people are intimidated by me, then I am clearly not alone in this miscalibration.

Consider the idea that someone is, at this very moment, intimidated by you. Perhaps it’s because of your education, the kind of work you do, your circle of friends, or the way you make everyone around you better. Does that possibility change, or at least reframe, the way you think about the intimidation you ascribe to others?

The good news is this sense of intimidation can be managed once you’re willing to admit it’s all in your head. It isn’t easy, it requires wrestling with insecurities instead of pushing blame onto an unwitting third party, but it will make you better. Intimidation is a purposeful act, not a characteristic you or I can project onto someone. Choose to allow for the possibility of rejection and you just might find a new kind of acceptance.

We can work on that together.