Tuesday, July 2, 2013

UtopYA 2013

I've gotten such positive feedback on my words at the closing keynotes at UtopYA this year, that I feel bold enough to share them here. I'd like to preface by sending you off to read another blog that is the most brilliant description of how I am when meeting new people. In a nutshell, I'm closed off and sheltered, convinced no one has any interest in me. I've spent so many years shoving myself in where I wasn't wanted that now I tell myself I am always unwanted. I will admit to social anxieties that send me into panic attacks when surrounded by too many people, especially if there is no room for personal space. Add these two issues together, and walking into that conference was the hardest thing I've ever done. I thought I was going to throw up just stepping out of the car. But I did.

When I got inside, there were so many faces that I've seen in my favorite books. All I could think was that I was the least talented person in the room and I didn't belong. But I had friends who were  looking forward to seeing me and if there's one thing I can't handle, it's disappointing the people who care about me. So I walked into the large room and found a seat. I sat by myself in the front of the room, fiddling with my stuff and trying to look like I was ok with that. After the keynotes I headed to panels where I again sat by myself. Come lunch break I looked for my friends but saw none, so I headed to the restaurants two blocks away by myself, walking into the wind so I could blame it for the tears running down my cheeks.

I was walking along in the hot sun and all I could think was, I don't want to be the girl who sits by herself. I don't want to be the girl going to lunch on her own. Then a little voice inside me I have never heard before said, Then don't.

Could it be that simple?

I walked into the restaurant and introduced myself to a couple other conference attendees standing inside the door. We wound up walking back together and sat at the next panel together. From that point on I pushed myself to sit next to someone in every panel, introduced myself even gave out the bookmarks and business cards in my bag. And you know what, all of a sudden that little voice was getting louder, and more insistent, and the other little voice that has always told me I wasn't good enough and no one was interested in what I had to say got quieter.

I can't say it's gone all together, but I am getting better at ignoring it. If you don't want to be the person that you are, then don't be that person. Be the person you want to be. Fake it at first, then eventually you will shift to be that person. Whatever that big scary thing you are avoiding is, don't let it stop you.

It really is that simple.


  1. I'm so glad that you shared your experience! There are probably many others who feel the same way. I think most writers are inherently shy. You're not alone!

  2. OMG! I have the same tendency and have to push myself the same way, LOL! It was SOOOOO AWESOME to finally meet you in person. Just so you know, you were one of the people I looked forward to meeting the most and I was so excited when I finally did!

  3. I'm the same way. I don't have the voice that says I'm not good enough or am unwanted, but I worry that I'm the least talented person in a room and just the idea of going to a conference like UtopYA makes me nauseous. But I plan to be there next year, even if I am the next girl to sit alone. Thank you for sharing your experience! You truly are not alone. Seeing this give me confidence for when I attend UtopYA next year. :)

    1. I will see to it that you aren't the girl sitting by herself. :-)It really is worth it, no matter how far outside your comfort zone it is. So many new paths are open for me now.

  4. So proud of you for moving out of that comfort zone because quite frankly that zone was/is depressing. I know that you've shared this with me privately, but to see you post it for all the world to see is another BIG step towards squelching that now quiet voice for good. Please know that I love you and I am so very proud of you.