It’s easy to document my weekend activities surrounding the World Domination Summit. All very tangible scrapbook-ish sort of things. When I re-read that post in the future, it will help me remember all the great things about the past weekend.
It’s a little harder to put a finger on what I got out of the summit. As an introvert, just showing up to the event was a success for me. While I’ve found that being a volunteer is an easier way for me to interact with people, it’s still a scary, scary thing for me.
I started to notice that I was having a weird reaction towards the other introverts at the conference. Folks would say that they were an introvert and then volunteer for group activities or easily talk to strangers or dance wildly and freely at the parties. I couldn’t comprehend this at all; it was mind boggling. Then I realized the difference. While I’m completely and totally an introvert, I also struggle with being shy and socially awkward – very different beasts. I’m an introvert squared.
Photo by Armosa Studios
Sunday morning, I was asked to hand out superhero cards to attendees for Chris Brogan’s upcoming presentation. As he handed me a big stack of cards, Chris encouraged me to take a card for myself. I looked through the whole deck to see if there was a card that I identified with. There it was: The Invisible Woman. I absolutely identify with her. I’m at my best behind the scenes. I don’t like “eyes on me” and I’m instantly caught off guard when I’m praised. It’s not a comfortable feeling. So I revel in being invisible. This was a main reason why I decided to not sell crafts in 2012. Marketing and putting myself out there is not something I have any desire to do. It’s also the reason that I took up photography. If I’m the one documenting, I don’t have to be in the pictures. I can stay invisible. It’s comfortable being out of the spot light.
But as the day went on, I started to realize that while this is a powerful superhero trait, maybe it’s keeping me from being my best self. Maybe it’s actually a hindrance. I have been blogging over 7 years and I’ve never had much of a following. I started my craft blog back when there was just a handful of us. I saw crafty folks that started about the same time I did and living in the same city as me getting book deals and having their careers take off. I stayed steady treading water. And while there could be many reasons why my blog never became the success I wanted it to be, I think one big component is that my shyness kept me invisible. I kept myself out of my blog, because of the fear of “eyes on me”.
I can relate this same sort of thing to many areas of my life. While being praised is hard for me, I also missed getting recognition for the things I had done. It’s a weird catch-22.
Luckily, we always continue to evolve. I have been making baby steps towards being seen more. I took down my tagline ‘crafty, yet shy’ that I had worn as a protective shield. It’s getting easier to have my face on my blog and Facebook; something I was adamantly against in the past. I volunteered on three committees this year which put me well outside of my comfort zone. I’m trying hard (even though it’s hard to tell at times) to practice my social skills. While people hate small talk, I find it helpful when reaching out. Just talking about the weather to someone I don’t know is terrifying, I’m not at the point where I can delve into deeper topics. But I hope to get there.
Photo by Armosa Studios
J.D. Roth was the last keynote speaker of the weekend. He gave an incredible speech about how to take action and transform your life. While I got a lot out of what he said, I got more out of his actions. He freely talked about being terrified of public speaking and how enormously outside of his comfort zone it was to get on stage in front of a 1000 people. But he did it. You could tell that he struggled a bit during his speech. It didn’t flow as naturally as some of the other speakers who do this sort of thing for a living. Through his fear and uncomfortable-ness, he was poignant and inspiring. Standing in the balcony watching him speak, I thought to myself ‘I could maybe do that someday’. A thought that I never have or if I do think something like that, I banish it from my mind as fast as I can. This time I sat with the thought and tucked it away as a future possibility.
At the opening party, I caught the girl who manned the photo booth taking a self portrait. I thought that was such a great idea. I also thought she was crazy brave. So when I manned the photo booth at the closing party, I decided that I wanted to do the same thing. It was a small step in the right direction to be less invisible. I almost talked myself out of it several times. There were people all the around and I was crazy nervous. At about ten to midnight, I knew the booth was closing soon and I was running out of time. Finally, I jumped in front of the camera and took my picture. I felt really great afterwards.
After all of the pictures from Armosa Studios (wonderful people!) were posted to Flickr, I looked through them to find myself. I figured I’d be in a few crowd shots that I could grab to put on my blog. There were roughly 1000 pictures and I had done such a great job of being invisible that I wasn’t in a single picture…except my self portrait.
It was a good lesson that I need to keep working on putting myself out there more and not be so afraid that people will see me. I’ll continue to take baby steps that put me outside of my comfort zone. Who knows where all of those steps will take me?