I am ashamed. I'm a photographer and this is the third time in a week I used a cell phone picture on a post? But I always loved this picture I took at Texas Style Council last year, and it applies well today. :)
Texas Style Council kicks off tomorrow evening, so in the next couple of days, ladies from all over both Texas and the United States are traveling to Austin, suitcases stuffed with their most fashionable and best (after all, this conference does have “style” in its title). In many cases, nerves are running high. Will the weekend be fun? Will I meet any cool ladies? Will I ever find myself awkward and alone… like the unpopular kid at a party? Will everyone be cliquey? Will the speakers be unapproachable and think they’re cooler than everyone else? Will this be worth my time and investment?
All rightful questions, of course. I ask some of them myself, even though this year I know lots more people than I did last year, and expect to have a fabulous time. I still have to laugh a little, though, because it does feel a bit like high school all over again, this type of thing. Ironically, the theme of the conference this year is “Back to Class,” and we even have a prom party to attend Saturday evening, complete with class superlatives. Coming from the persective of someone who was never anybody special in high school or college, and didn’t even go to my own prom, it all does feel a little anxiety-inducing. Not so much because I think the conference will be anything but wonderful, but because it all recalls some memories and a period of my life I was more than happy to leave behind.
As a former homeschooled kid and then the one who always felt out of place once I did get to “real” school, my blessing and my curse is an extreme hyper-awareness of other people’s comfort and inclusion. If I see someone standing alone at a party, or if I sense someone feels uncomfortable or awkward, I experience that with them, even from across a room. Sometimes I may feel it more than they do - who knows, maybe that person is perfectly content to sip their cocktail alone and people watch, or what have you. The other day, at a different Texas Style Council event, I found myself in a situation where I knew no one in the room, so I just walked up to a circle of girls and introduced myself, only to be met with blank stares. Awwwwkward.
I guess my point is just to say that, at this type of event, we ALL have a responsibility. For those of us like myself, who are Austin residents or otherwise know a good amount of other attendees already, it’s our responsibility to NOT hang out in our own little group the entire time - to be open and aware of those around us, to meet new people ourselves, and to include people who might be feeling out of place. If someone walks up to introduce themself to a group you’re chatting with, well, that took some balls, and you should reward that with warmth and a smile. And if you’re someone coming alone, don’t be afraid to slip right into new circles, meet tons of new ladies, and hand out your business cards if you have them. People love to talk about themselves, so a great ice breaker is to ask others where they're from, whether they’re a blogger or business owner, etc.
The whole point of this conference and others like it is to network, network, network and LEARN! How fabulous would it be if we could take the social anxiety out of the picture all together, and treat everyone there like an old friend? Even someone you’ve never seen before in your life! Then we can all just focus on having a grand time amongst like-minded ladies. Just remember, no matter how big or small your business or blog, the responsibility starts with you.
If you’re coming to TxSC, see you this weekend!!! :)