People think I am talented. I feel mediocre.
People think I have all the answers. I do not.
People think I don’t make mistakes. I do.
People think I am strong. I am not.
People think I am fearless. I am terrified.
People think I have direction. I am lost.
People think I am an amazing wife. I am just a wife.
People think I am a “Uber” mom. I am just a mom.
This past week I had the amazing opportunity to join a fabulous group of individuals at the #140 Conference Ontario in Kitchener. A group that although I speak with a fair number of them on twitter on a regular basis, I really don’t “know”.
People think I am confident. I am not.
For me, walking into this conference was petrifying. Although I knew I had one IRL friend in the room (@jackiyo) and many others I “know” on twitter, I felt like I should be turning around and heading back to my car. Then, when Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) opened the day by saying something about being in the room with 200+ of his best friends, I really felt like I was intruding on a private party. As much as I wanted to be a part of that amazing group of people, I felt like a fraud. A fraud who was desperate to sneak out a side door except there wasn’t one.
Then the stories started and I was transfixed. It was like a book you can’t put down or a movie you never want to end. It was life-changing. I could tell you how every speaker taught me something, because they did, but for me two speakers stood out.
The first was Brianne Jourdin (@touchbykenadie), a mom of a child with special needs. Yes, that fact alone connects us but it was two completely unrelated statements in her 10 min speech that flashed like a beacon to me. “I went to a tweet up and I got to the door and was so afraid, I turned around and left. I regret that now.” …..That was me!
Back in May, I went with @JackiYo to WomenInBiz Conference in Toronto and at the tweet up the night before; I arrived, I walked through the room and I left. I went back to my room, threw up (gross but true) and tried to DM my husband on twitter. He wasn’t around. Then after a thirty minute argument with myself, I went back to the party and ended up meeting a great group of girls (all named Jen, oddly enough) and had a great night. Yet here again, at this #140ConfOnt, I was feeling the same thing.
You see, I find the task of walking up to people and introducing myself nearly immobilizing. I NEED others to make the first move, to approach me, to start the conversation otherwise, I find myself sitting alone, feeling lost and wondering why I’m even there. I know that once I have that opening, I’m usually fine. I can fake the confidence after that but taking that first step is almost debilitating.
That brings me to my second ah ha moment of the conference. Lara Galloway (@mombizcoach) talked about the “Me Too!” phenomenon of the Social media world. When you feel like you’re all alone, or you’ve done something that you think people are going to judge you for, SM shows you that others have been there or are there with you right now.
…..”I just fed my kids peanut butter sandwiches for the third meal in a row. ” ……”Me Too!”
…..”I just realized I didn’t shower or get dressed today. :S ” …….”Me Too!”.
…..”I don’t think I can walk into this room full of strangers.” …..”ME TOO!”
It was an outstanding day full of outstanding stories and everyone who left took with them the feeling that they had been a part of something sacred. There were numerous tales of heartbreak, loss, and pain mixed in with successes, lessons and encouragement. It was like a giant group hug and by the end, I did make the effort to introduce myself to four individuals… @tjzmommy, @touchedbykenadie, @optimom and @TheKarltopia.
I know what you’re thinking, but Jen…four?!?! There were well over 200 people there! Ya, but after four my stomach couldn’t handle any more. Four was an accomplishment.
People think I have it all together. I do not.
This conference showed me that I don’t need to feel alone.
That I don’t need to be all that people think I am.
That it’s ok for me to be me.
People think I am happy…. I think maybe I can be…
But please, if you see me at #BlissdomCanada, say hello. Help me break away from this fear and maybe, by the next #140Conference, I won’t be looking for the closest exit.