This past weekend I spoke at The W.E.L.L. Summit, a new wellness event that took place in Boston. Similar in process to other conferences I’ve presented at, I was able to attend sessions myself when I wasn’t leading them, and to mix and mingle with other presenters and attendees alike. To say it was mind-opening is an understatement; my conversations with the female-centric group of wellness warriors at the Summit was nothing short of transformatory.
What I walked away with were precisely the pieces of advice I needed in order to forge on in my path in the most potent, positive way possible. Oddly enough, these pieces of advice didn’t come from the sessions themselves, but from my conversations with others in the off times. This may not seem significant, but to me, it’s huge. Why? Because my goal for the weekend was not to lead amazing sessions; I’m confident enough at this point to know I could do that. My goal, simply put, was to socialize.
I understand that doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but for me, it’s pretty huge. As skilled as I am at talking TO people in a formal context, the idea of talking WITH people I don’t know– of any age, any gender, in any setting– is terrifying. I’m one of the shyest people I’ve ever met. In the past, that has repeatedly led others to presume I’m stuck up and/or uninterested in them. When people give me compliments, I say thank you and spend critical time trying to think of a retort that is interesting, engaging, and not self-deprecating (as women are known for being when complimented). Typically, by the time I come up with a good response the moment is over. The oddest aspect of these endless occurrences is that for every other life situation, my brain works at lightning speed. In problematic or chaotic situations, I typically remain the calmest person, the one who comes up with a solution the fastest and then orchestrates, delegating appropriate tasks to others involved. But small talk? Dear God, save me from it.
And that is why it was my goal for the weekend: to step far outside my comfort zone, into the magical place where change occurs, and just see what happens. I didn’t just engage with others when they approached me, I straight up introduced myself to strangers. I asked to join them for meals, I walked over and said hello, I complimented something I enjoyed about them. And WOW, did it yield incredible results!
Had I not consciously decided to do something for myself that was distressing and uncomfortable, I wouldn’t feel nearly as empowered as I do right now about my game plan for my next career steps. As much as I encourage people to do what makes them happy, sometimes we need a little kick in the butt to get to our next level of happiness, and there is no one better suited to do that for you than you are!
Here is my challenge to you: today, do one thing that embodies the person you WANT to be. Forget how you’ve never been “that type” of person. Forget that it isn’t your go-to behavior. Forget, above all else, the identifiers and quantifiers you’ve placed on yourself, like “shy” or “two left feet” or “not good at cooking.” Just dance. Just try making a new dish. Just talk. Just go BE exactly who you want to be, and I promise, after you get over the shock of it, you’re gonna love it. You’re gonna love you even more, and everyone in your world will then get that extra love toppling over onto them. All the magic in the world is in you, just waiting for you to set it aflame with your growth.
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