Quiet Connections is six years old!
I thought it was just me –that I was weird, defective and didn’t fit in. For as long as I could remember, I’d been shy and struggled to talk to people or cope with attention. I hid myself away, expecting rejection, and keeping myself isolated in the ‘shy box’ that I thought I belonged in.
Social connection felt threatening to me, and I’d often blush, freeze and go blank when spoken to. Even when I was at absolute rock bottom, my counsellor didn’t understand my quietude and clearly considered me awkward and unwilling to be helped.
But in my 20s, I discovered that, like half the population, I’m introverted and also a highly sensitive person (1 in 5 of us are). My quiet and sensitive personality is, in fact, very normal. With many positive qualities and strengths.
I also figured out that I had been experiencing social anxiety because I believed that I ‘wasn’t good enough’.
And as I shared my story and got curious about others’ experiences, I realised that this seems to happen for many quiet people; we receive the message that we ‘should be’ bolder, louder, talkative, or comfortable in the limelight so many times that we come to believe there’s something wrong with our more quiet, gentle and reflective temperaments.
Imagine a world where quiet children feel accepted, valued, and included for who they are.
Sense the difference that this would make to that child and the adult they will become, the people they connect with and support throughout their life, and the contribution they feel able to make in their community. See how much better the world could be if everyone knew that they were worthy, appreciated, and lovable, as their true selves.
This is our dream: a more curious, compassionate, and connected world, where people of all temperaments can flourish.
Quiet Connections has grown from my little acorn of an idea and a desire to make the world a better place for us quieter people. True to my nature, it was a slow soul-searching, researching, exploratory process to finally bring to life in May 2017 in a way that felt clear, purposeful, and aligned (amidst much self-doubt!) –and we still consider Quiet Connections a research project to this day.
Most importantly, I know that we are better together, and I’ve been so lucky to meet some wonderful kindred spirits along the way who have the same mission in their hearts. I’m grateful for all the cheerleaders, supporters and team members who have shown belief in us, helped us in so many ways and challenged us to really see our strength and capabilities. Without whom, I could not have left the starting block.
And now, we’re six!
So far, we’ve worked with thousands of people who also consider themselves quiet, sensitive, shy or experiencing social anxiety. We’ve supported around 1,500 people through our courses and 300 people across 1,500 coaching sessions, growing confidence and wellbeing. Over 1,000 people have met like-minded people, made new friendships that flourish beyond Quiet Connections, and explored new places together through our Meet Ups. Plus, we’ve reached approx. 15,000 people through our awareness activities, and generated 80 media mentions. My younger self would truly be astounded at what we’ve achieved.
But our real social impact is found in your personal stories. In how you feel about yourself and each other. It’s the decrease in feeling socially anxious and alone in your experiences, and the greater sense of connection and support that you have. It’s in the “me too” stories and the reassurance that I see you share with each other that dissipates shame and offers hope. And the courage you show in starting conversations with a stranger to help them feel included.
It’s in the friendship between Amanda and Chris that blossomed from our online course to regular catch ups and travelling from Somerset to Cornwall to connect in person. And the people who connect beyond Quiet Connections to join running clubs, go to the theatre, or take walks together. And a lasting connection between the two young women who were in our online group before meeting in-person at their local Meet Ups, becoming great friends.
It’s the surprise that Andrew felt at how quickly he could grow his comfort zone and become the person he wanted to be and Julia finding purpose in her life. It’s Nadia learning to say ‘no’ and raising her career aspirations. It’s Nikk successfully returning to uni and passing her Masters, and Julie and Vicky facilitating groups with us -before all three started up their own wonderful wellbeing businesses.
It’s the many quieteers who creatively told a story at our awareness exhibitions; and those who have started volunteering with us and elsewhere, returned to education, or gained or changed employment following the support, acceptance, and encouragement that they’ve had from the community here.
So, thank YOU.
You make Quiet Connections what it is with your compassion, curiosity, and openness.
Quiet Connections offers a different way and pace of connecting that honours our quiet temperaments. But it’s you who creates these spaces where positive transformation is possible. You lift each other up and show each other that we all matter. This wouldn’t be possible without you. We are truly better together.
You can join us for a celebratory picnic and optional walk at Godrevy Beach in Hayle this weekend! Find out more here.