"Being the life of the party" fails to describe the bold and pioneering owner of Sounds On!, Raphael Cheron Dittmann. When many of us still struggle and question how to define our own identities, Raphael has found the courage to be unapologetically himself. Having grown-up with him in a conservative, small circled society in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I know first hand that his journey to living his life out loud was by no means self-evident. But his infectious "joie de vivre" and no nonsense for BS timidity, has helped him forged a life rhythm tuned to who he truly is. Selfishly wanting to bask in his example, I pulled him away for a spare moment from his busy CEO schedule, to learn how does he stay tuned in while balancing his own company and his relationships. Raphael recently drop' in to reflect on our Learning to be a Friend story and shared some truths that the piece got him thinkin' about:
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I am the classic definition of an extroverted introvert. I can definitely be the life of the party, be loud, be bold, be “too much” even. However, what people do not know is that I fear going out at times. I fear having to chit chat, to be seen, to let people down, especially because me being ‘on’ is a behavior that has come to be expected of me. So, when I am quiet around people, I receive so many questions like ‘are you okay?’ A constant reminder that somehow, I’m failing people for not performing to their expectations. I rather lose myself in a crowd of unknown than truly be myself with those I am close to.
When it comes to friends, quantity or quality? Or both?
Definitely both. I put my friends in different baskets. Quality friends are those who are reliable, loyal, respectful, possess all the attributes you possess yourself. Quality friends can be multiple or singular. Quality friends are the friends you choose to be your family. Length of knowing one another is non-important, but the feeling of knowing you have each other’s wellbeing in mind, that is quality! Quantitative friends, these are the folks you can go party with, enter a league of some sorts, broaden your social network, brunch buddies, friends to do some activity with so that you are not alone.
If you could go back and teach your younger self one thing about friendships, what would that be?
Truth be told, I am still learning about friendships. I feel I “lack” at being a proper friend at times. So, if I could teach myself something now, I would want me to reach out more often and let my friends know I am here. One common feedback I get from people is that they call me, I don’t call them.This fact is true and stems from me being a natural introvert.
In this digital age, how do you make time for friends?
The digital world we live in is a tool to all of us so we can contact everyone anywhere, at any time. This digital world has saved many of us from solitude at the height of the COVID pandemic. I embrace the digital world because you can now connect with strangers and become friends.We’ve celebrated many milestones this past year over Zoom with friends: birthdays, baby showers, even attended a wedding.
What’s the most amazing thing a friend has ever done for you?
I have many amazing friends. I truly believe my friends are better to me than I am to them. In that regard, I have been lucky and fortunate to have exemplary people in my life. With that in mind, many have done so much for me. I have one friend who knows me well enough to sense when I am not feeling my best. My friend will be direct and say “Rapha, what’s wrong?” And I thank this friend so much because so often I feel ashamed or embarrassed to truly discuss topics in my life that are not comfortable for me to share or that are difficult for me to process or topics I don’t yet even know how to go about processing. So, the answer is plain and simple: Listening to me and doing so without passing any judgment nor requiring me to act on their advice.So many offer advices and expect you to follow what they say as if they are the almighty know it all but not this friend. My friend simply wants to be there for me and succeeds at doing so.