BEING COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF
After the exhausting drive to Seattle, I found myself in my hotel room in dire need of sustenance. Here was my first opportunity to meet new people. I decided to channel my extroverted BFF and made a post in the event’s Facebook group about heading down for a late lunch. I invited anybody who was already there for the Ignited
There is something brave about eating by yourself in a public setting. Not many people are comfortable doing this, but I have to say, I kind of enjoyed it. It was liberating to buck the norm and be a strong independent woman. I may need to get out more.
I utilized the time to write out questions for the panels I would be attending the next day. I wanted to be prepared to prevent getting overwhelmed, and my mind blanked on the key concepts I wanted to take home with me. I knew it was likely to happen, so I needed to be prepared. If this happens to you, too, I’d love to hear your tips and techniques for managing it.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS
With a full belly and plan in place for the next day, I returned to my room to relax and do some writing. Eventually, I needed a mental break and thought about turning on the TV. Instead of grabbing the remote, I took a quick look to see if anybody else had arrived at the hotel and was looking to meet up. I was here for a reason, and I was going to do my best not to hide the whole time. Sure enough, someone was looking to grab a glass of wine, so I decided to take a risk and responded that I “could use some socialization” and would love to join her.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t make friends easily. I’m pretty good at acquaintances, but real friends are a bit more difficult. I had a classmate once that described it as how tightly you hold on to your “friend dollars.” Some people give away their “friend dollars” freely, but I hold mine close and rarely give them out. I avoid small talk, rarely start conversations with people I don’t know, and I have a hard time talking about myself (or I do it too much which can get awkward).
That evening, I pushed myself to practice social skills I’ve been working on and, as the evening progressed, I felt a connection with my new friend. At no point did we run out of things to talk about, neither of us dominated the conversation, and before too long we were joined by a couple more marvelous women. For the rest of the weekend, the four of us supported each other, kept each other company, and encouraged each other to push ourselves so that we would not have any regrets when we left.
WOMXN SUPPORTING WOMXN
It is partially because of these new friends (and continuing to channel my BFF) that I was brave enough to introduce myself to two of the women who inspired me to attend the summit: Taylor Gage and Erin Brown. I kept trying to convince myself that I could just DM them later and thank them for being so inspiring. Instead, I told Mr. Pickles (that voice of fear inside my head) to shut it, took a deep breath, and went to say hello. And, can I tell you, I have no regrets!
Both of these women were amazing, authentic, and supportive. For that matter, all the speakers and attendees were. They shared their struggles and how they were able to get back up and keep going. They honestly answered questions to help others do the same. I learned so much and felt encouraged and supported by everyone that was there.
Tomorrow I’ll share the strange ways that anxiety affected me on this trip.