Getting Over Nerves: Why Do I Feel LIke my 13 y.o. Self?

Q. There is a guy that I see a few times a week at a fitness class who I seem to have developed a high school-style crush on but I can’t bring up the nerve to talk to him.  From a 40-something to a 20-something, how do I get a grip and stop being such a nervous ninny?  Why am I even having this issue? Do you ever get over this?

In the past few years I’ve taken great strides in becoming charismatic, friendly, and confident in all sorts of situations, dating and flirting included. However, every time I see this particular person I just revert to the 13-year-old version of myself who awkwardly avoids eye contact and is visibly nervous.


Based off observation and a few short interactions, this guy seems like a very genuine and interesting person.  I’m not set on dating him and having him be the love of my life. I would just like to have a nice, natural conversation with him and see where it goes. I would like to be my fun and friendly self around him!


A. It sounds like you have made great strides in becoming a confident woman. There may be something about the gym environment that’s making you revert to your 13-year-old self. However, just imagine your 20-something self in those awkward times at 13 and how (very likely) there was little to actually be nervous about. You would probably rock those situations if you had the self-confidence you have now. Give yourself kudos for becoming the charismatic, friendly woman you are. Then, stop rewinding and know that whatever you think the worst thing that can happen is, it’s not that bad.


In the end you have nothing to lose. By 40 most women and men look back and wonder why they were so nervous to talk to those people they were interested in, or who just might be interesting. We’re our own worst enemy sitting around thinking of reasons why they wouldn’t be interested in us. Guys say the same thing. The one thing they wish they knew when they were 20 was that it was okay to ask. They wish they had asked or made that first move more.  That they should’ve had the confidence because 20 years later they realize the gain is more than the pain. The rejections don’t matter but who knows what you might have uncovered.


Easier said than done when you are feeling nervous. The key is to stay present and not think about past rejections or future failures but the possibilities of now. If you can’t, try taking some yoga!  And…here are a few women’s and one “guy’s eye” perspective, on how to take the plunge.


Dear 20-something,

All of us can get nervous initiating conversation at one time or another, especially if you have developed a crush on the person.  You can build fear up in your mind but at the end of the day, it’s just speaking to a person, something you have done your whole life.  Truly the worst thing that could happen is that he is uninterested in speaking to you, which is highly unlikely as most people are, at the very least, polite and will respond in some way or another.  Since you are in a gym (or grocery store, or park or anyplace you may encounter another person) use it to your advantage. Take a deep breath and ask him a question related to the location;  if he has been taking the class a long time or has he taken any of the other classes at the gym? Or does he think the teacher is a good one, etc.  It is an opening and if he is interested, he will most likely continue the conversation. – 40-something, fashion designer, Brooklyn, NY


Dear 20-something,

First it may help to figure out why you are nervous. If you can think about it and say, “Okay. This has nothing to do with this guy, this has to with the fact that it takes me back to gym class when I did feel like a Nervous Nellie talking to guys” (for example). Then you can say, “Okay, I know where this is coming from. This has nothing to do with this situation right here and now”. Now count to five and put it aside. Now bump in to him on the way in or out of class and just make one flirty comment. Build off of something the teacher said during class. Make sure you aren’t avoiding eye contact and give him your best smile. – 40-something, marketing, Columbus, OH


Dear 20-something,

Can you get him out of the gym? I find that the gym can be an unnatural place for women. They get nervous either because they feel they are getting checked out and they don’t want to be or because they feel self-conscious in their gym clothes or in such an open environment. Maybe ask him to grab a cup of coffee. Is there a café in the gym or nearby?  You can simply say, “Hey I’ve seen you in class for a while, would you like to grab a cup of coffee?” I’m sure that would do it. Or you can comment on something you noticed in class or around the gym. “Hey I saw you are an x fan (something you saw on a t-shirt), so am I”. Or “I noticed you were using that new machine, how was it?” “I saw you were drinking that new drink/protein shake…how are they?” If he says no, it’s simply because he has a girlfriend or is otherwise unavailable. It has nothing to do with you and it’s not as if he is going to have any lingering thoughts over it other than being flattered. If he is rude, then consider it good that he showed it up front and you can now put him out of your mind.  He wouldn’t have been worth it.” – 40-somerhing guy, trainer, NYC



on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+