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.
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!
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.
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.
I’d be interested to see how B-School turns out for you. Good luck with that. I remember just a while ago it was being promoted like everywhere.
“my friend and I would order out and always fight about who had to call the pizza man.” ==> Lol, hilarious! Reminds me of childhood. Now I just pick up the damn phone and call. I used a trick that has helped me in almost every area of my life. Just act like you’re super confident even when you’re not.
So when it comes to networking, it’s the same. Don’t act like the damsel in distress when trying to reach out.
“It is seriously outside of my comfort zone.” ==> But you know you gotta do it because outside comfort zone is your growth zone! 😀 Yeah.
“you can’t grow your creative dreams entirely on your own.” ==> Sure. Usually the case.
Yeah, I’m really pleased I made the commitment and signed up, thanks! I’m already seeing things I hadn’t before and I’m only one week in.
It’s always fun to reminisce. My high school buddies still are in touch and they’ve given me plenty to write about 🙂
Very nice, Carrie. I’m really looking forward as to where you and your business/blog are heading.
By the way. Make the most out of B-School! I’m sure it cost a bomb!
🙂 Thanks again. I’m going to do my damndest to take this space to the next level. So glad you are along for the ride!
You have fooled me! Every-time I read your posts I had this image of you standing up before a large audience conveying your message with calmness and confidence. Your writing certainly gives one that impression.
In the world of the internet and email we are able to reach out and contact with people all over the map e.g. Middle East. In doing so we develop friendships with the greatest of ease. The benefits are endless. Nonetheless, there is a pit-fall in that we are losing the Art and Joy of Conversation. Forty years ago I travelled extensively by air. I loved meeting people on-board, in the terminals, bars, etc. It was all about the richness of conversation. In the past twenty years this practice has just about disappeared! Travellers are totally engaged with their mobile devices and not open to conversation. I think of it as the Art of Being Elsewhere.
But Carrie I do have a workable and achievable solution for you! It’s Toastmasters International who offer public speaking and leadership training while confidence building in the process. It’s a hands-on development program for people from all walks of life and likely available in the Middle East. You may find it most helpful for future artist talks and making presentations.
Hi Bruce, Writing is something that comes easily to me and I’m glad to know my confidence and calm about writing communicates to readers! Speaking is something I can do when I have to, but I have to practice. Lots. And I still get all kinds of nervous. But, if the topic is really important to me, I can rally. I have heard of Toastmasters and now you are the second person to mention it to me. I guess I need to look it up! 🙂
As a teacher, I would allow students use of their mobile phones to take photos, etc. but I was happy as a school we had an overall ban on mobiles for exactly the reason you mention about travel. We are so obsessed with our tech toys we don’t stop to enjoy and engage with the moments around us! Having that ban forced students to interact with each other and us and be a bit more present in each other’s lives (rather than playing on SMS or text, for example). I sometimes think that is why meditation is becoming more mainstream, there is more need for mindfulness now than ever!
Best wishes to you Bruce. Thanks for reading 🙂
This entire post is me! I can have super severe anxiety over the idea of talking to someone and then chat non-stop for hours once I start. Then I might feel drained afterwards, but there’s always a sense of accomplishment that I pushed through my discomfort! Crazy critters aren’t we!
Loreena, Welcome! Yes, crazy, wonderful and creative critters! We all deserve positive acknowledgement, including introverts who have their own superpowers, despite our sometimes initial reluctance to reach out. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading.