How to Break the Box Around Yourself and Let People Like You

College was hard.

Not the school part – the social part.

Making friends. Going to parties. Hanging out at bars. Trying to score dates.

All of it was a struggle.

Not because I was shy – because I was sober.

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t do anything.

It’s nothing religious. Nothing philosophical. Just a choice: I don’t like the taste. I don’t like being out of control of my body. I don’t need chemicals to have fun. And I hate being hung over.

But it was still college. And the story we’ve been programmed to believe is that the purpose of college is to get as intoxicated as possible as often as possible. And anyone who deviates from that herd gets left behind.

So I was the outcast. I was the weird one. I was the guy who wasn’t drunk, wasn’t stoned and, as far as people knew, wasn’t having fun and wasn’t worth talking to. Just a straight edge silently judging the rest of the room. Who wants hang out with that guy?

But after two years of college, I finally said to myself: “This has to stop.”

I was tired of not having friends. I was tired of being excluded. And I was tired of spending my weekends eating roast beef sandwiches watching Dawson’s Creek alone in my dorm room.

Don’t judge me. That show was awesome.

So I started wearing the nametag. All the time. And everything changed.

Now, I had an in.
Now, I had an opening.
Now, I had an opportunity to engage.

But it was more than just trying to get attention – I was trying to give myself away.

I chose to live a better story.

And you’d be amazed how well that worked.

With the nametag, everybody saw me.
With the nametag, everybody knew me.
With the nametag, everybody talked to me.

It was a socialization.

A signal. A permission slip. An invitation for friendliness. And the nametag was also disarming gesture. A non-threatening symbol. And a cue that reduced the social distance between me and the world.

From the moment I stuck it on my shirt, I became more approachable. People treated me differently. College started to suck less. And I had some of the best times and made some of the best friends of my life.

But here’s the really interesting part.

With the nametag, nobody seemed to care that was always sober.

They were too busy saying hi.

They were getting to know me as a person – not as a preference.

And all I had to do was give myself away.

I broke the box I put around myself and let people like me.

What’s your socialization?

For the list called, “23 Ways to Learn a Lot at a Really Young Age,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011-2012!

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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