Ah, that rush of excitement and anxiety when you and your “friend crush” have set a time to grab coffee. The follow through can be the hardest part. Before you back out, let’s back up to why you wanted to engage in caffeinated conversation in the first place. Did you see something in her you admire such as the way she mothers, her creative job, or sense of humor? Heck, maybe you just like her hair? While you are noticing these qualities, you might not know this but… this is the way someone sees and thinks about you. We are so used to being around ourselves, we can sometimes forget how unique and powerful our very own voice is.
When we believe that our voice, our perspective or story, isn’t worth bringing out into the world or that it is “almost ready, just not there yet”, we take away something vital that the world needs. As what some call an extroverted-introvert, I can often find myself wanting to retreat. There is definitely a time for this, but trusting the inner-voice that wanted to reach out to this person in the first place has always benefited me more in the end.
When you let go of the need of a specific outcome and embrace all that you have to offer, a creative connection unfolds.
Take a second to realize how beautiful it is that you’re meeting someone in person, in the unfiltered flesh! This used to be the only way people could communicate, and now it’s an intentional choice we try to fit into our busy lives. In his book, The Lost Art of Good Conversation, Sakyong Mipham writes, “In the art of conversation, we cultivate some sense of goodness, not only in ourselves, but in others as well. When we are gentle with ourselves, we can open our hearts to others.” Your story, thoughts, opinions, things you find funny, etc. will most likely be new to her ears.
Self-care leads to self-confidence.
Owning your voice requires being gentle and kind to yourself. Take care of the thoughts you allow into your head, the ones that make you feel unworthy or uninteresting. The more you can direct the traffic of your thoughts and give the green light to the thoughts that are true and from you heart, you will start to see more clearly your unique gifts and strengths. Think of how you might give your friend, husband, or mother a compliment. You don’t do it once and then go another 20 years. You remind them often of how much you value them, how great they are at something, how beautiful they are. Your soul too needs daily nurturing.
Embrace the messiness.
Mipham writes, “Great artists use painting, sculpting, or music as their medium for bringing imagination into the world.”
“Likewise, by opening up a conversation with another person, our inspiration has a channel to express itself.”
“It is an art because it transmits feeling. Art brings beauty and meaning into our lives.” If you consider yourself creative, which we at Yellow believe everyone is, know that there is no right or wrong way to express yourself even in conversation. The silence in between thoughts or over-talking moments are a messy mix of colors on the canvas of your conversation.
Research & reflect.
If it helps calm you, do a little research. This can vary depending on the purpose of your meeting with this person, but finding out some commonalities or interests beforehand can help you have conversation topics so you don’t feel so frazzled. Regardless of what you research, don’t stick solely to these, have them in your head or on your phone as a backup, but sometimes, just knowing you have them is all you need.
Even do some research on yourself - not online, but by looking inward. Spend some time reflecting on who you are. Weed through the lies you’ve been telling yourself, and shine light on the triumphs you’ve overcome, your dreams for the future, and the little things that you love to do. This is the gold people want to hear about, and it will come up naturally if you’ve spent time hanging out with… you!
You may have heard this before (because it’s so true), but be more interested and focused on the other person through listening and asking questions. In doing this, your truest self will shine through. You won’t be overthinking, and will in turn find yourself spreading good.
Maybe you’ll end up sharing a story that soothes and empathizes with something she thought she was alone in feeling.
You might recommend a book or self-care practice that has helped you, a mutual friend you think she should meet, or even just give the gift of a listening ear. Trust the timing. There are some women I’ve reconnected with years later after that one coffee date, or have even continued long-distance connecting with over email (technology can be good!) if we no longer are in the same town.
There’s so much to see on the “outside” of someone’s life. The way someone dresses, what they choose to share on social media, the way we interpret someone’s career success. Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Don’t be intimidated by what someone else has achieved on the outside.
We are all human, beneath all of society’s definition of success.
We are all connected, longing to be seen and heard. Let’s learn to like our voice - our inner self that yearns to be a part of something bigger, our physical voice despite all its cracks and shakiness - and own the fact that we have so much in our hearts that needs to brought into this world.
Also, let’s grab coffee sometime.
Illustrations by Sawyer Wilson