We are –in a way- meeting for the first time, through this blog. So I thought I would share some of my insecurities about meeting people in the real world.
Challenges we all face
For most of us meeting new people means a lot of questions and challenges. It starts with the preparation. Which clothes will you wear, do you have a good hair day, do you have to prepare something in advance? When you are finally face-to-face with someone new, the questions and uncertainty continues. Did you remember their name, was your handshake okay and did you make a good first impression? And after you’ve made a (hopefully) graceful exit, new questions will pop up. Will they be meeting you again and what did they thought of you? Whether it was a social or business occasion, most of these questions will remain the same. We’ve probably all felt a little apprehension or nervousness when we met someone on whom we wanted to make a good impression.
New challenges and questions
Enters the brain injury. Now you have a whole load of new questions to think about or be nervous about. Does the person you’re meeting know you have a brain injury? If not, do you tell them you have a brain injury or do you save that for another time? If you meet them in a crowded room with a lot of noise, will you ask them to go outside so that you can focus your attention better? Or do you suck it up, play the best version of yourself and afterwards crawl to bed, because you’re too exhausted to do anything else? Will you be able to find the right words if you want to say something? Will you be able to follow their jokes and examples or do you have to ask for clarification? Even without taking a physical step, you’ve already used up some (often precious) energy.
Still searching for a perfect system
I still struggle with this and as a result meeting people still causes apprehension. For example not all the people I work with, know that I have a brain injury. Or when I’m meeting new people socially, I always struggle with when to bring it up. Of course everyone has their own insecurities. Maybe you don’t have a brain injury, but suffer from migraines and always have to hope that a migraine attack doesn’t coincide with an existing appointment.
However, if you were to meet someone that has a brain injury, I might be able to offer some practical tips. One important thing to realize, is that every brain injury is different, so there is not one easy answer. Still there are some common elements that most people struggle with. For example, most people struggle with their energy level, so think about when and how long you are meeting them for. I always want to appear better than I am, so in my case it helps tremendously when someone else says that they have to leave after an hour.
Think also about the environment. Is it a crowded place with a lot of people, do they have music playing in the background and how much (artificial) light is there? Maybe the person that you’re meeting happens to know a quieter place or prefer to meet somewhere outside?
Well I hope that this gives a little more insight!
In the process of building this site I now added a contact page, so feel free to send me your thoughts and questions!