How to Handle Walking into a Room Full of Strangers
(This is an edited article published in NUI Galway Student Newspaper by Susan HayesCulleton, co-founder #SavvyTeenAcademy)
At the beginning of this week, I walked into a room full of people I didn't know, facing an unfamiliar schedule and I knew very little about what to expect. This is often the scenario that our Savvy Teens find themselves in before they join us on that first Monday at 10 a.m.
Personally, I was in this position just a few days ago. I'm in Dubai as part of a trade mission from the London Chamber of Commerce to the United Arab Emirates. There are eighty different companies in this group, from the UK, Belgium, Greece, Lithuania, Hungary and Italy. Over the past week, I've met entrepreneurs and corporates in the three emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. To say that I'm "on my own" out here is an understatement. Yet, I feel so connected! All the participants share a passion for business, an ambition to seek new international trade opportunities, and a curiosity about each other's culture. Together, we wonder at the grandiose architecture here in the UAE, and we share new experiences and anecdotes that cement our budding relationships.
If you feel overwhelmed or a little out of your depth when you come to us at #SavvyTeenAcademy, start in a new school or go to college, that's totally normal. Those same butterflies in your stomach paid me a visit last week-end as I boarded the plane. You're going to feel this way on many occasions in your life if you want to experience new things, build a career you love and have great relationships. As you go through this emotion, you build resilience and can empathise with how others are feeling. I have had that same sentiment, both exciting and daunting, countless times as I've gone to networking events, worked with new clients, travelled to new places, gone to parties of people I didn't know, started going out with my boyfriend's (now husband's!) group of friends, etc. I've always come through the other side and got great practice.
That's how it feels like to leave your comfort zone, and that's where great things happen. As I walked into our orientation session that first day of my Financial Maths & Economics course at NUI Galway, I was about to meet some friends for life (really, that isn't just a cliché), about to train my brain to think logically to create the platform for my entire career, about to help create a society... Today, I write this piece looking out of my hotel window at the sparkling lights of Burj Kalifa, the tallest building in the world. In the very same way as when I started college, I don't know yet what seeds this trip has planted, and I'm intrigued to see how they will unfold in my life.
It is always awkward in the beginning, but it gets so much easier. Often by the end of the week, our Savvy Teens link up on FaceBook, create a WhatsApp group, for coffee after the course and support each other through good and tough times in the years ahead. That's what awaits you when you go outside your comfort zone. Looking at Burj Khalifa right now reaching far into the night sky, there is a lot of truth to the metaphor: the sky really is the limit.
So embrace the discomfort, now and always: it's where growth happens. Feel the lurch of the unkownn in your stomach, and know that, if you take the jump, you will be rewarded by amazing adventures and friendships!
What is Savvy Teen Academy?
SavvyTeenAcademy is a five-day, Monday to Friday, summer camp for teenagers about to enter 5th or 6th year (or Repeating)
Teenagers can have big dreams and aspirations, but can be at a loss where to start, or think they are too shy to go after what they want. They also have to juggle expectations from parents and teachers, a demanding study schedule as well as navigating intense friendships and peer relationships.
SavvyTeenAcademy offers a caring environment for turbo-charged, hands-on learning. It will be an intense week of transformation, with lots of fun and new friendships.
After five days at SavvyTeenAcademy, students will be armed with a panoply of practical tools they will be able to use in many life situations: passing exams, applying for jobs, networking and confidently taking their life in the best direction.
SavvyTeenAcademy is NOT a traditional course based on the school curriculum.
What will students learn at SavvyTeenAcademy?
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