Bridging the Communication Gap

We decided the University of Richmond Campus wasn't a large enough bridge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From “it” to IT (published Sept 10th, '09)

It’s Friday afternoon, and everyone is outside for recess. You know that you’ll be home in less than half an hour so the only thing on your mind is not being “it.”

The game of tag was one activity that everyone was able to play. Everyone who played felt they were the master of their craft, and as close to invincible as it gets. Half the reason we felt this way was a result of ample study time, aka frequent play. The other half can be accredited to fear of the opponent, aka, the kid who grabbed the other’s bathroom pass.

The game of tag that many of us played in elementary school was a building block for the game of “chase” that we participate in now. We have progressed from putting gum in the hair of the person we are interested in to sending “subtle” pokes via Facebook. The “chase” is the grown-up version of our favorite childhood game (other than duck, duck, goose).

The excitement takes our breath away! Strategically, the two are approached very similarly: If we push too hard, we may end up hurting the other person, but if we don’t run fast enough, we’ll lose the game. And, if we’re too aggressive, we’ll miss the people hiding behind the trees. Along with strategy, the objectives are about as identical as it gets. The goal is to grab the attention of someone and hold it by running away. We adjust our speed, however, so that the other person can keep up but still has to push his/herself in order to get what he/she really wants.

Writing this article, I asked myself, “How are the two so similar, yet approached so differently?” I came to the realization that the only actual difference between tag and the chase is how success is defined within each of the games.

Success in tag can be defined by the amount of fun we had, the number of people we tagged, the number of people that tagged us or a ratio of being tagged to how many people we tagged. In the chase, success is often defined by the physical progress made with the person of interest.

Tag was an activity that we learned to play through participation. Our first game was nerve-wracking because of the fear of not knowing exactly what to do or how the game would turn out, but we were able to get over it. The game of tag was only intimidating the first time around, but that feeling never goes away when we are involved in the chase.

If we were able to rid ourselves of the nerves that accompany the chase, we would be able have a new outlook on it. Our attitude toward the chase needs to be changed. The stereotypes of the men and women who are always in the game need to be erased.

Just because a guy/girl wants to pursue other activities or doesn’t want to settle down with just one person, doesn’t mean they are slutty or loose. For some people, maybe being “it” isn’t that bad. On the other hand, if a guy/girl wants to settle because the first person who chased actually caught him/her doesn’t mean they are prude or uptight. These people prefer to be IT.

The chase requires that we step outside our comfort zones and allow someone the opportunity to come in. Tag forced us to be free and open to possibilities! We should allow the chase to do the same.

It isn’t about getting laid or finding that special someone. It is about letting go and giving not love, but excitement, a chance. No decision is necessary right now, but we should think about whether we want to be “it” or IT.

A New Perception of Rejection (published Sept 3rd, '09)

What many of us do: We wait all week long, with the hope of seeing that person we are interested in out on the weekend to make our “big move.” And when we finally see that person, we rehearse in our mind a thousand different ways to approach him or her, and wonder what line we should use.

He/she is with a group of friends and the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself in front of everyone, so you tell yourself, “I’ll just wait until he/she is alone.” But throughout the whole night he/she never seems to be alone, so you never make a move.

Rejection is an act that many men and women have feared for ages. The mere thought of rejection can cripple and even paralyze one’s motives or actions. But why is this the case? Why does fear of rejection have such a stronghold on our lives?

Many of the greatest inventors throughout history have either had their ideas rejected, or did not get their invention right the first time around. But what made them great is that they did not allow fear of rejection and failure to cripple their ideas and goals. I think great inventors saw themselves and their ideas differently. Their perception of who they were outweighed what others thought of them.

The power of perception can be very useful when attempting to get to know or court someone you are interested in. Perception is the ability to recognize or discern a situation. How we view a situation can vastly affect how we respond to the given situation.

Because in our heterosexual society, males are predominantly the pursuers, this is for you, but all can use this advice. My goal is to help you change how you view rejection by changing your perception.

The first step in changing your perception is to change how you view yourself. It starts with YOU! If you do not think you have the characteristics or the personality traits to be successful, then you will continue to allow rejection and failure to dictate your life. You must know, not think, that you have something to offer that no one else can offer, and then carry yourself that way. (NO, this does not mean you are God’s gift to mankind.) It means that you are comfortable and confident in who you are.

The second step is to change how you view rejection and failure. MLB players are praised for being able to hit a baseball three out of ten times. Which means they actually fail seven out of 10 times. Regardless, they still step up to the plate to swing again because in the backs of their minds, they know they do not have to be perfect to be successful. I urge you to take the same stance. Celebrate the success you may encounter and do not focus on the failures, simply learn from them.

Now that your perception has changed and you are now fearless, it is time to break down a few myths and preconceived notions. Myth: The best time to talk to someone you are interested in is at a party, bar or lodge party.

But what is wrong with talking to that person in The Pier line, or the panini line in D-Hall, or in 8:15 at Boatwright, or in the mailroom or simply while walking to class? All you have to do is start off with a simple hello, a question or a comment. After you get a response, introduce yourself and see where the conversation goes from there.

It does not have to be a long talk. I think if you make a connection before you see that person out at a party, bar or lodge, you have pretty much eliminated the fear that most of us have when attempting to talk to someone for the first time in front of a large group of people. Most people have their guards up at social scenes so they are more aware of “pick-up lines.” But during the week, people’s guards are usually down. Use this to your advantage!