Confessions of a Reluctant Newcomer
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not a gregarious, glad-handing extrovert that enters every new situation with confidence and fearlessness. Though I follow my own advice and work hard to get better at the five newcomer skills I describe in this book, I’m by no means a world-class, Olympic level newcomer.
I’m actually more of an introvert who despite writing this book still finds myself sometimes:
- Standing in a sea of strangers feeling reluctant to approach someone new
- Hesitating to go up to that orange-aproned guy at Home Depot to ask my newbie do-it-yourself question
- Dithering about whether to invite a new faculty member to coffee or lunch and get to know her better.
- Feeling self-conscious as I do the Macarena with my eight-year-old daughter at a Father-Daughter dance.
I’ve been studying newcomers for the past 20 years partially because I also find the whole process of being new more awkward and anxiety-provoking that I wish it was. I’m sure my own efforts to overcome that anxiety and become a more confident, comfortable newcomer forms the basis for this book.
In reality, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t a little nervous in new situations, and when I describe what’s in the book to strangers, most smile and nod their heads and exclaim “Yeah, that’s me too!” Even the most gregarious extroverts I’ve interviewed find themselves nervous or reluctant in certain situations.
But through reflection and practice I’ve learned to become more confident in new situations, and these days I mostly look forward to new opportunities instead of fret and worry about them. And I’ve interviewed many shy and introverted people who through reflection and practice (sometimes by choice, sometimes through adversity) have also transformed themselves into the kind of newcomers who are willing to reach out, embrace, and take advantage of emerging opportunities that help make their goals and dreams a reality.
And I’m confident that you can too.