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.