Do you take yourself too seriously?

In 2013 my New Year’s resolution was to learn to laugh at myself. Honestly, I took myself too seriously and needed to loosen up.

I am incredibly reserved, timid, and socially awkward (no really, I am.) It took years of practice to become more assertive. I needed that skill as a leader. It also took a lot of courage and confidence to stand up and speak in front of an audience. I still get butterflies when I have to socialize with a room full of strangers. I’ve come to accept that this is a natural feeling.

It would be easy to hide myself in a corner at conferences. However, that’s not where I want to be; I have things to share and so much to learn. I can only do that by engaging with others.

This may not be true, but I think that a lot of people feel just as uncomfortable as I do and would probably never speak to me if I didn’t say hello. I simply can’t allow that because I genuinely like people. I love their stories and their humor. People make me happy (after the butterflies subside) and they allow me to share my stories, which are more awesome shared than cooped up in my head because they pay tribute to the people and moments in life that have given me purpose.

Twitter and other online social media outlets have given me ways to connect with colleagues without the pressure of time and composure. I can tweet anytime and it doesn’t matter if I’m biting my nails or pacing, heck, I could even be in my pajamas. It has also allowed me to get to know people before I have to meet them, which means I have a safe connection in the room full of strangers. It is amazing how one safety net helps me forget I’m afraid. I love social media for this reason, don’t you?

So, as 2013 came to a close I had to ask, did I actually learn to laugh at myself? Yes, I think so. I didn’t want to be so afraid of making a fool of myself that I couldn’t laugh with my friends. I am still timid, it is my personality, but I am learning to put that feeling aside for the sake of enjoyment.

Everyone should learn to laugh at themselves. It’s been a healthy dose of fun that I plan to continue into 2014.

It also helped me remember that just because I’m more comfortable hanging back and watching, doesn’t mean I can’t learn to step forward and lead. Leadership can be learned and it can be taught. Leadership should be a challenge where we step out of our comfort zone, and it should be fun. Find what you want and reach for it, not necessarily without fear, but despite fear.


  1. Julien Goalabré on May 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for this article! I am in the process of becoming more assertive and to shine as an introvert who wants to share stories!
    An awkward thing to be shy and yet, working in communication right?

    • Sheryle Gillihan on May 22, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Not as awkward as you might think. I found that for a long time I was a lot more confident and comfortable with written communication than I was with face to face interactions. There’s something safe behind the written word that allowed me to be vulnerable. I still feel awkward on video and so you’ll not find me “vlogging” here.

      • Julien Goalabré on May 23, 2014 at 6:38 am

        I have been told by my Marketing teacher “you want to work in PR? Strange choice for an introvert”. Since I’ve read “quiet, the power of introvert” from Susan Cain (great TED video by the way), and I believe that I can do it. Work in progress, but thanks to the inspiration from people like you, I know that I am not alone in that path.
        I invite you to read my version of your article posted a while ago
        Now I have a big big challenge to tackle: make money and ask for it. If you’ve been there, hope we can talk.

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