I spent all summer working on my allusive book and its companion known as a book proposal. Oh, who am I kidding? I thought about it all summer while staring at a blank page on my computer. Only when I realized I was a week away from attending the She Speaks conference I found some words to put on those pages!
Eventually, I hit print on those words I’d written despite the doubts to back out and not go. It was my last two days of summer break and I was giving them up for a writing conference. The thought that I could just not go and never really chase this dream of mine did occur, but the date to get a refund on my payment had come and gone so I was going whether I liked it or not.
I could bore you with a play by play of the weekend and tell you about all the people I met and all the session I sat in on. From great speakers to great books filling my weekend. However, since 98% of the people who read this blog are not aspiring writers or speakers, I will instead tell you what I took away from my weekend at She Speaks.
I learned to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability came in many forms that weekend; walking into break-out sessions and not knowing a single soul and having to make small talk with new people. It came in the form of a meeting with a book publisher where I pitched my story and who I am. Vulnerability showed up when I was writing a short piece in a session only to stand up and read it in front of 30 other women I didn’t know. All these moments were done in a state of unshakable vulnerability. Brene Brown claims that vulnerability is “not about fear and grief and disappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.” She is so right.
This place of vulnerability forced me to be open and honest with my people and ask for prayers because I just wasn’t sure of myself anymore. We need our friends when we are weary, but we have to make sure we tell them we are. Unless your friend is Keltner who will just give you a bible verse you have to go look up because you didn’t do bible drills as a kid. FINE, point me back to Jesus if you must.
By day two of the conference, I found myself sitting in the back of the room sipping hot tea with my fellow introvert, Alyssa, saying nothing as we tried to process it all and regroup from eating lunch with extroverts. I love you all, but why do you all use so many words ALL-THE-FREAKING-TIME?! So we sat in our mutual silence soaking it all in. We were both vulnerable over the weekend, but we had each other to lean on in vulnerable moments and we walked away a little braver.
There’s an old military adage I heard on an episode of Last Man Standing (impressed?) that says if you aren’t advancing, you’re retreating. As poetic as Brene Brown is about being vulnerable, this possibly real military philosophy is profound. Life moves fast and we have to keep moving forward because if we stop, we think we are just standing still, but that’s not true. We are actually going the wrong direction by going nowhere.Standing still in life is comfortable and safe. Taking those first steps forward leave us feeling vulnerable, but some days you just have hit print and take a step forward. Every time my mother worries about me going off into the world I reminder her that a ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for. She usually rolls her eyes at me, but I think she gets the point.
I don’t know what will come of this weekend in the long run. I know book deals are as much luck of the draw as they are being a decent writer. I know it will all happen when it is supposed to happen and not a moment sooner. I know that’s easier said then done. I know that I don’t have a big platform our audience to promise great book sales and I don’t do speaking engagements (yet). Yes, I made some friends and contacts over the weekend. I heard from women who sat in the same chair I did not long ago and listened to them speak about being vulnerable. I worshiped Jesus and I walked away encouraged and loved. I may not get what I thought I wanted from this experience, but I gained so much more.
My biggest takeaway, though, was that I got my ship out of the harbor and set sail for a little bit.
And I also acted like this….