|© Krista Stryker 2011|
The event was part of Worldwide Linchpin day, part of Seth Godin's brilliant plan to get creative and innovative thinkers to come together and make connections with one another.
I heard about the meetup a couple of weeks beforehand through Seth's blog, and clearly marked it on my calendar. But as the day grew closer, I continuously found myself making up excuses of why I wouldn't be able to go.
Seth won't even be there, so why go? I thought.
The event isn't organized - what will I possibly get out of it?
The thought that most often came into my head: Everyone will hate me.
Conquering your childhood fears
To someone without an extreme social anxiety disorder, my fear of going to a harmless three hour event in a bar no doubt sounds silly and baseless. But I've been shy since I was a little kid, and though I've working on becoming more outgoing over the years, I still freak out before I have to go meet new people, go to a party, or do anything that involves me talking (I much prefer the written word).
It doesn't help that I have a quiet voice and no one ever can understand that my name is Krista not Christina, Chrystal, etc. Or that I am often still carded at bars because I look young and prefer dressing like a teenager rather than getting done up (I'm lazy and just don't care enough).
To me, going to an event without using my husband as a crutch or hiding behind my family members was just about the scariest thing I could do, aside from public speaking. It meant exposing myself to others, and my biggest fear - saying something stupid. The latter was an even bigger risk in a group full of Seth Godin fans since I assumed they were all bright, talented and successful people who would hate me (here we go again) if I said something less than brilliant.
Facing fears head on
I ended up dragging myself to the event, though I nearly stopped myself at the front door. I'm sure I ended up saying a few stupid things, but I'm also pretty sure no one cared. I freaked out a little when everyone else had business cards and I didn't (what would they say? Creative generalist?), but I even let that one slide, realizing it really wasn't that big of a deal.
Overall, it went pretty well. I even talked to people. A lot of people. I got some business cards and e-mail addresses and actually intend to e-mail the people I met in order to try and keep in touch instead of pretending like it never happened and officially turning into a hermit.
It's not as bad as you think it will be!
I came home from the meet up glowing. I had done something really scary. I had proved to myself that I could actually function in a crowd of smart, interesting people and not come out looking like a total idiot. No one called me names, no one judged me or made fun of me when I explained what I did with my life. Only one person even mentioned my age, and that wasn't even a big deal. I had faced one of my biggest fears - social interaction with intelligent people - and survived.
Having an irrational fear of something usually means it's something that we need to deal with. Whether you're afraid of heights, public speaking, being creative, or asking that cute guy/girl out for coffee, the best way to get over that fear is to actually face it head on. It may seem like the worst thing you could ever imagine, but once you do it, even if you fail you'll realize the world won't end. You'll come out okay, and gain a newfound confidence in the process.
The best thing is that once you realize you can get past these big fears, the little things won't bother you as much anymore. You'll be able to do anything, and fear won't hold you back any longer.
Go face your fears. You'll be amazed what you can do.