I would prefer not to.”
― Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
For most of my adult life, I equated attending a networking event to torture. With name tags.
I’m an introvert with a history of social anxiety and decades of battling a stutter.
For me, an ideal Saturday night always involves pajamas. Maybe tacos. I might yell at the characters on the TV screen in Grey’s Anatomy, but otherwise I’d prefer not to speak. Even my family knows I need my “alone time” or I get a little nutty.
Networking event? Um, no thanks.
But there’s always been this other part of me that still loves pajamas, but who also has a story to share that has to be told. A part that knows I have a mission that expands beyond myself and my fear. And that sometimes I’ll just have to put on pants and go outside.
What I’ve come to understand is that my fear is only one part of me that occasionally shows up, but there are so many other, more important parts of who I am. And a lot of those parts show up all the time and they are much more fun to hang out with.
It has taken DECADES of research and failures and courage to be at the point where I find myself today. And I am still learning. The difference is that I now actually ENJOY networking. I belong to a business networking group and our meetings are one of my favorite parts of my week. I swear as I write this a part of my brain is yelling, “OMG I don’t even know you anymore!”
Do I still have my moments of anxiety and awkwardness and wanting to hide under my covers until, well, I get hungry? Perhaps for tacos? Of course.
But I no longer beat myself up about it. I allow myself to be vulnerable.
And that’s where the magic is.
Wishing you a story-filled journey, Laura