I’m in the middle of an amazing online course called B-School. Before the class began, we received some materials to help kickstart us into action (note the important word today is action). One assignment from that reading was to reach out to two people in my field. As soon as I read the instructions, I stopped what I was doing, and almost went downstairs to start cleaning house. Because that would be better than reaching out to two strangers!

I HATE THIS. Let me say it again, I HATE THIS! My first thought when I’m told to go to an event where I know no one, or to call or email someone I don’t know is to go hide out under some blankets and hope the expectation of reaching out just disappears. I’ve been like this since I can remember. In high school (oh, good ol’ Commack) my friend and I would order out and always fight about who had to call the pizza man. I would refuse all of the time, despite the fact it was harder for her to call. Why? Her voice is childlike so every time we’d call they’d ask her how old she was or ask to speak to her parents to ensure it was a legit order. Rarely did someone believe she was 17. My excuse? I was terrified to talking to someone I didn’t know.

Hiding away sounds so much better than reaching out to connect with a bunch of strangers…most days, anyways!

The irony of it is I married someone like me. Hubby and I will literally bargain with each other about making phone calls to order dinner out! I would rather do our dishes for the day than call a take out delivery place. It’s silly, I know, but its the truth. Reaching out to strangers makes me think stranger danger! It is seriously outside of my comfort zone. (Yes, I’m an expat, too. Figure that one out?!)

I’ve been thinking on why reaching out to people can be so difficult. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I think it could be about, especially in this incidence, asking for help and any fears associated with that. Perhaps, at its core, it’s about a fear of rejection?  Yet, I’m not sure how a pizza delivery man can reject a 17 year old making a delivery order, unless, I guess, its my friend with the voice of a 4 year old: “Yes dear, can you please put your mum on the phone now?”

In an “overseas” experience, there can be lots of lost in translation moments that are really frustrating. I’m sure that plays into my current experience with Hubby. I guess I better reread Quiet to review this topic!

Perhaps reaching out to “Strangers” for some help and advice will help you realize you know more than you though! And building bridges is always a good thing, no?

Despite HATING this feeling I get when I reach out, or anticipate reaching out to someone new, I trust in Marie Forleo and her message. I believe she has genuine interest in our success. And I’ve heard the message from other sources as well: the power of networking and people (think Scott of LYL)! So, I told myself reaching out to one person per week isn’t too hard. I’ll just go slow and reward myself after making these extensions. And in the past two weeks I’ve had two positive experiences from reaching out:

(1) I made an appointment with a local art gallery. The woman running it seems really lovely and we are now talking through potential art or art appreciation courses at the gallery as well as interview opportunities for Artist Strong. Speaking to someone face to face is easier for me than on the phone. And now I get to continue my mission of Artist Strong, sharing creative experiences from people all over the world!

(2) I emailed a woman I admire online who has created an integrity-filled online business. It is apparent she is out there to help others. We had a few back and forth emails that were positive and kind. While I didn’t get the opportunity of face time with this lady, she still kindly offered me well wishes and resources.

Yes, reaching out to someone new, especially someone you admire, can feel scary and even messy. But really, what do you have to lose?

So, for the quiet person who wants to hide when forced to reach out to strangers, who may also be invaluable resources, remember: you can’t grow your creative dreams entirely on your own. It takes a village, or, at least, reaching out to a few strangers in your industry or creative niche. Just do it. What is truly the worst that can happen? And even better to think about, what is the best thing that could happen?! Nothing happens if you choose not to act. That’s a whole lot scarier.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Make a list of 3 people you admire as creatives. Try to connect with them. Email is a great place to start! And tell me how it goes, I’d love to hear your story. I promise you, you won’t regret it.