Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Comparison Trap: Owning One's Bravery

When doing something for the first time it's easy to fall into the trap of comparison. Nerves can overtake and swallow one's confidence. Then self doubt creeps in. But this is the very moment when you need to be brave, to be bold.

Be Bold Card a top Day Designer


And after recounting a story I often hear, "Wow that was so brave." Or, "I could never do that." I realized no one can see our self doubt.

So here's the secret, any time you're tempted to doubt whether you could do something yourself, ask the storyteller for the backstory. Not all will share, but it never hurts to ask.

Do you share your backstory?

This is important. So let me repeat it:

No one can see our self doubt.

We're not walking around with a blinking billboard arrow pointing down at us screaming "Danger. Danger. Will Robinson. Imposter! Imposter!"

Asking a Question in an Early Bird Session at Alt Winter 2014


Today before the first full day of sessions at Alt Summit Winter 2015 kicks off, I'm sharing my backstory for any who needs a pep talk on being bold and taking that first step whatever it may be.

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My Alt Summit Backstory

Two years ago I stood waiting to board another airplane. My stomach threatened to spill its contents. I almost didn't board that plane.

Was I headed to another exotic destination on short notice? No. I was heading to my first Alt Summit. And I was petrified.

Personalities that I had followed for years were there. As speakers. As attendees. I didn't know anyone personally. I was taking a leap of faith that I would indeed have a room when I got there--I'd sent my portion of the bill via PayPal. I had connected with a few fellow first-time attendees but after seeing their work was in awe and feeling even more like an imposter. All these negative thoughts were going through my head. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I willed my feet forward and boarded that plane.

That tentative start was my Alt Summit beginning. It was a rocky start, a near panic attack as I walked into lunch the first day (averted by my amazing roommate that year Melissa of Lulu the Baker). Almost bursting into tears as I chatted with someone (Nicole of Making it Lovely) who had inspired me (and continues to do so). Bursting into tears at breakfast as I realized I belonged at Alt (bonding forever with Jennifer of Classic Play, Sandra of Raincoast Salon, and Melanie Biehle). Tossing a business card at someone I really wanted to get to know (Hilary of Dean Street Society) and who would later become my business mentor and running in the opposite direction.

Leading a Roundtable at Alt Winter 2015


Speaking at Alt Summit Winter 2015

This year I'm coming to Alt Summit as a speaker. Two years since I almost didn't get on a plane. Two years since I didn't chat with Natalie (then Marketing Director at Microsoft) because I felt like a fraud.

I still pinch myself. I still can't believe that this is my life. I looked at someone I admired and instead of saying I could never do that, I started putting a plan in action. And, not overnight, but with focused effort I have my version of that life.

And OMG I'm speaking at Alt Summit. And OMG people like me, they really like me (for those old enough to remember Sally Fields' Oscar acceptance speech you'll get the reference, corny, but exactly how I feel).

So if you're at Alt and you're wondering if you belong or if you're feeling like a fraud, don't sit it out on the sidelines. Seek me out. Seek out one of the Alt Reps (Sarah of Sarah Hearts was one of the first people I met my first Alt and her cheery smile is a shot of confidence to all around her). We can't read your mind. We don't know that you're a little overwhelmed. But, once you let us know, we can help you find your footing like others did for us when we needed it.

And always remember that you're seeing the middle of our stories, and you're at the beginning of yours. If you want this, you can have it too.

How do you avoid the comparison trap?
genuinely eden

Credits: First and third images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life. Second and fourth images taken by either Brooke Dennis or Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit and used with permission.