Growing up, I was super shy. Painfully shy. Embarrassingly shy. Quiet whenever possible. Red-faced whenever it wasn’t possible. At home, I talked non-stop (so much so that sometimes my folks would play games to get me to keep quiet for a while). So at parent-teacher conferences, my parents were always surprised when the teachers told them how even though I clearly had so much to say, I kept my lips zipped at school.
Eventually I came out of my shell, but it wasn’t really until high school and college. I regret that it took me so long to get comfortable with myself and to have the confidence that what I have to say matters.
Regret serves only one positive purpose — to stop yourself from making the same mistakes twice.
So one day about a year ago, I realized I was largely being a bystander in the industry. I was watching the great conversations taking place, but I wasn't participating in them. I was reading the blogs, but I wasn't writing them. I was listening to podcasts, but I wasn't trying to find a way to be a guest on them.
It was sort of like grade school redux. I talk a lot. Like all the time. My husband has replaced my parents as the recipient of most of it. (As an aside, instead of playing games to get me to keep quiet, he teases me by playing this song or sometimes this one.)
So I had all these things to say, but I was keeping it to myself. I wasn't putting myself out there.
At the end of last year, I decided to make some changes. I signed up for the PromoKitchen mentor program. I started introducing myself to people I admired. I introduced myself to people at Expo. I went to events that I would've skipped in years' past. I started joining the conversation.
Sometimes — okay, most of the time — it required me to get out of my comfort zone, but each step along the way, I met interesting people who are full of vigor and advice and encouragement. This industry is really special like that.
I started writing again, and I kept a promise to myself to start this very blog. I had two guest blog posts, the first on the awesome Brandivate blog, and the second on the equally awesome Atkinsontshirt. I was interviewed by the incredible Kirby Hasseman on his show Delivering Marketing Joy.
Each time I put myself out there, it led to something else. Then that something else led to even more things. I feel better about myself and my work than I have in a long time, and it’s no coincidence that these actions I'm taking are the driving force.
The coolest thing is that everyone can do it. Unlike middle school classmates, the folks who make up this industry are welcoming and helpful. They'll buy you a beer instead of stealing your lunch money.
Don't live with regret. Take those first steps and move away from the sidelines.
How can you put yourself first and put yourself out there? What important things do you have to say that you aren't sharing?