Last night I did something I haven’t done in over a year. Something that is simultaneously thrilling and horrifying.
I got up and spoke in front of a large group of people.
Though I’ve performed on stage as a musician many times in the past, public speaking has never been a particularly fun activity for me. Having just moved to Austin, I didn’t expect to find myself in that situation any time soon. But the opportunity presented itself last night when I walked into the Boss Babes meet at Spiderland Ballroom.
#BossBabesATX is a super cool group of women who have created a community that puts on events with the goal of connecting and empowering women in the creative industry.
When I first walked into the event I had no idea what to expect. I felt awkward and nervous but I was determined to make the most of it and try to fully show up. So I signed up to get on stage during the open mic-style portion of the evening, where everyone has a chance to introduce themselves, share something, ask for help, etc.
As I waited for my turn, I heard one amazing woman after another describing the creative things that they do. I couldn’t help but start to feel a little intimidated, wondering if I actually had anything as important, creative or interesting to say. I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was that I wanted to put myself out there and just see what happens.
When I walked up to the mic, I told people that I just moved to Austin, I wanted to make friends, that I’m a web designer and developer, that I’m vegan and a yoga teacher. All of the things I think of when someone asks me who I am.
What I didn’t say was that I am longing to make some true connections. I want to have a place to go where people already know me. Where I belong. Where people understand.
You know, all the stuff that’s really going on inside but that you’re afraid to say out loud because you think you’re the only one that feels that way.
Then the three women who created Boss Babes got on stage and shared their thoughts. And they said all the things I was afraid to say! That’s when it hit me. THAT is the way to true connections. By sharing the truth about who you are and how you feel. That’s when we start to realize that we are not alone.
One woman shared her experience of doing so much that she felt as though she was just “going through the motions.” Me too!
Another spoke of how she sometimes felt alone or as though she were not fully understood or seen. Me too!
It’s this amazing thing that happens when you get a group of people together and start to get real.
I was so self-conscious getting on stage that I tried to hide behind the things that I think make me, me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally proud of myself for doing it. I’m a HUGE fan of doing things even though they scare the shit out of me. Like when I quit my job to start my own business!
But I also was presented with an awesome reminder to be authentic. That’s how you make real connections.
It takes practice – and guts – to truly show people who you are, doesn’t it? I’m constantly practicing and learning, trying to speak my truth. And I’m so grateful to have found such a cool group of smart ladies to nudge me in the right direction.