I spent some time this week on Google trying to find the origin of the phrase “Wherever you go, there you are.” It seems a lot of people have used the phrase throughout history, but no one remembers where it came from. Well, I first heard it from my Grandpa, so I’m going to credit him (RTG, 1894-1990).
Anyway, I think everyone who has said it had a very good point.
I remember thinking in 2002 when I enrolled in the University of Phoenix Online that all of my problems were finally over. I thought I was finally going to have the opportunity to reinvent myself, and become that confident, popular person I had always wanted to be.
You see, I’ve always dealt with a certain amount of shyness and insecurity in dealing with people face-to-face, and in speaking or performing in front of people. I’ve never been very confident about my physical appearance or my ability to hold up my end of a conversation with intelligent people because I have a hard time thinking on my feet and remembering details and facts under pressure. I’ve always been better at communicating in writing, because when doing so, I have more time to think and research what I’m going to say before I hit “send.”
When I had an opportunity to attend class online, I felt I was in heaven on earth. Although I had always been a good student before in the sense of getting good grades, I had never been great with in-class participation, or with networking or making friends with my classmates because of my social insecurities. The option to communicate mostly in writing seemed like the perfect answer to these problems. To a degree, it worked! My experience at the University of Phoenix was a good one, and I was successful.
The problem I had was that after I finished school, I had to go back to my real life – and I was still me. I still had all of the same insecurities and lack of confidence that I’d had before, and in 2004, communicating solely online was not an option for most people.
As time went on, and the Internet became more and more a part of everyday life for the majority of the population, the opportunities for online communication grew, and I found ways to participate and be involved, of course. The problem for me is that as the world becomew more tech-savvy, the trend is to make real-time face-to-face communication via the web more commonplace. People want to voice chat, video chat, or at least IM. Most are no longer happy with just using discussion forums or email for quality communication.
I know I wasn’t the only one who had the dream of reinventing myself online. The virtual reality site Second Life, was largely built around this concept. Many of the users (“residents”) in the beginning subscribed to a total immersion philosophy and stayed “in character” for the entire time they were in-world. Some used the site for role-playing, and others for just a way to make friends and get away from their “real life” for awhile. For some it was a form of recreation, and for others it was therapy. A lot of people still use these virtual reality sites for communication, but most people have more or less integrated their online identities and personalities with their real ones – whether or not they actually reveal their real names. Most are no longer happy with communicating only in-world, and prefer to incorporate voice, video, and outside social networking sites with their in-world experience.
After numerous awkward encounters and communication failures in the real-time environment, I find I’ve largely lost my confidence, and that online communication is nearly as difficult for me as face-to-face communication has always been. I’ve been taking small steps to gain that confidence, but it isn’t easy, and it seems like the older I get, the harder it is.
I’m wondering if other people have experienced something similar? Have you tried to reinvent yourself in some way, and how did it go? Were you successful..why, or why not? Do you have any advice?