This article was written after I attended several industry events. After speaking with attendees and dealing with my own thoughts, I wanted to lay everything out here.
Let’s start by saying your social insecurities are probably normal. Everyone is introverted and insecure.
Almost daily people say to me, “Allan, you’re so handsome and so extroverted, I wish I was more like you!” Neither statement is true. First, my looks are the result of plastic surgery, overeating and lack of exercise. The second assumption, “You’re extroverted,” is also not true.
I hate traveling for business. I’d rather be at home with my wife and kids than traveling and meeting people. I’d rather be in a safe, non-judgmental environment than meeting people. Having people judge me from a first impression scares me.
Even at our own event, LessConf, I’ll walk around the event parties and just assume people don’t know who I am. I’ll think, “Allan, don’t introduce yourself to them, they’ll think you’re stupid.” This is at MY EVENT!!! How insane is that?
I never feel like I have a “place” at events. I’m not a programmer, not a great designer, I’m not a marketer, and I’m not really a front-end person. So I feel inadequate with most people at most events I attend. I don’t look like everyone, usually I’m the tallest and largest person in any room. I’m physically intimidating, or at least I feel that way.
When I’m attending other events, I’ll walk around, see someone I recognize and immediately my brain starts freaking out, “Don’t make eye contact, they don’t remember you!” I’m in a battle inside my head, I’m fighting the urge to go back to the hotel and cower away from being social. I’ve always masked my terror with a smile, but inside I’m battling myself.
I cannot allow my insecurities to take over. If I allow them to take over, I will stay at home, calling myself a “family man” as an excuse for my uncontrollable insecurities. But inside, I’d know I allowed my self-doubts to control my actions.
One of the things that works really well for me is to “act as if.” Act as if I really was respected and liked by the people in the room. Act as if they wanted to hear what I have to say as much I want to listen to what they have to say. Act as if we’re old friends who are trying to reconnect. Acting as if until I am that comfortable.
If you wanted it to build a product you’d find a way to get time to work on it. If you really wanted to start that new hobby you’d sacrifice something to find the time and money to do it.
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