Mar 20, 2012 In-Person Networking
Posted by Allison
One of the blogs I’ve frequented for years now is Post Secret. People mail their secrets on postcards to the site’s owner, Frank Warren, who uploads the best ones once a week. They range from funny to sappy, but one this past week stuck with me.
The sender lamented that he or she had waited years to hear Frank speak, but unfortunately now that he would be coming to the area, the sender would spend the entire night in bed because of a crippling anxiety disorder. Later, the sender wrote into the site:
“As soon as I put the postcard in the mailbox, I made a promise to myself that I would be there. I cried a lot and I didn’t say a word to anyone, but it was nice to feel included just the same. A step in the right direction.”
Something I’ve not hidden is that I have mild social anxiety. Nothing that I would call “crippling,” but I often find myself making decisions to stay home when the better choice is go somewhere public. Networking events, parties, and even running errands like going to the grocery store make me uncomfortable.
But I still do those things. I push myself to be social, to meet people who are interesting even when I’d rather be at home, to make choices that will help my career even if it makes me nervous and wishing I was home in bed. Sometimes I freak out. Sometimes I cry. But as often as I can, I put a smile on my face and get out there. Most of the time, people have no idea that I’d rather be hiding in the closet.
What I’ve learned in the past few years, especially since beginning my work with BlogWorld, is that many people in the new media world have social anxiety or are at least introverted or shy. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, regularly hides in bathrooms, even when she’s the guest of honor at an event. Chris Garrett has talked about how shy he is an how inadequate he feels next to co-author Darren Rowse. Other awesome bloggers have told their own tales of being shy.
But some bloggers are using it as an excuse to not be the best blogger then can be.
Make a vow to yourself: it stops today.
You can blame the social anxiety, saying it is the reason you didn’t attend BlogWorld or South by Southwest or whatever event you missed, but best honest. What is the real reason? Were you afraid of failing? Were you afraid that you’d be alone and not meet anyone who’d be interested in talking to you? Were you afraid that you wouldn’t see a return on the money you have to invest to attend a large event?
The reason why some bloggers like Jenny and Chris are awesome bloggers despite being shy or dealing with anxiety is that they don’t use it as an excuse. They buck up and do what they have to do. Those of us who deal with these feelings…we aren’t always successful. Some days, my anxiety wins. But I try my best, always. I don’t write things off and tell myself, “I can’t do that because I’ll be too anxious.” I try.
Are you trying too?
- TED2012: Post Secret – Frank Warren (boingboing.net)
- Of conferences and anxiety disorders (thebloggess.com)
- An Introvert Blogging in an Extrovert World (rebekahmadrid.wordpress.com)