Updated: Jul 8
An Introvert's Surprises and Successes from Convention
The last convention I attended was an Asphalt Conference in Miami in 2017. A bunch of fringe oil patch veterans rekindling old friendships, hustling to spark new business for the future, and enduring some informational sessions to balance off the meals and cocktails.
This past week I attended the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) in San Antonio. I knew this would be different but suspected some of my old shy introvert challenges would be tested once again.
Before I arrived last Wednesday, I crafted my last blog, Crowds, Chaos, and Cocktails Hours, sharing a tumultuous experience from the past and my 4P's to guide a better experience at AWP:
1. PERSONAL PRIDE: Be true to myself and use my renewed strengths to have a positive experience
2. PRIORITIZE: Focus on my objectives of learning, exploring resources for future publishing, and networking with other writers
3. PREPARE: Plan and gain comfort with my schedule, venue, and self to meet my priorities
4. PRIVACY: Ensure I have personal time to wind down and also to gain energy and inspiration
I proudly brought my list and cased the convention hall out the night before. Twelve thousand people were expected so I wanted to be as best prepared as possible.
I am a consummate planner...I plan out my writing, my blogs, our vacations, and finances...it gives me comfort and control. But as they say, best-laid plans...
As the conference opened on Thursday morning, I was ready! Until I saw the monitor outside the first room..."CANCELLED". Well, I'm a pretty good problem solver, so I hopped on the app and searched for alternatives. But as I scan the list, I see a lot of "CANCELLED" notices! I find another session and head off to the other side of the Convention Hall. This quickly began to underscore my next challenge of the week. I somehow twisted my knee on a run earlier in the week. The swelling had gone down but I now sported a noticeable Texas "hitch to my git-along." I knew I was in trouble when I spotted distance signs. Truly, I've been on shorter runways. I must have walked, neh hobbled, at least 5 miles each day.
This became my week... canceled sessions due to Coronavirus and limping commutes across San Antonio.
Now, I'd like to share 5 new realizations that I hadn't mentioned in last week's prologue
Escape! Almost regardless of the quality of the conference, I love these events because they provide the opportunity to escape...escape day-to-day tasks that can clutter the mind...and foster daydreaming of new projects and ideas.
Moderation is the key. This has been another personal focus this year. Pursuing extremes...going all out...is oftentimes easiest - just focus on doing more! Unfortunately, the repercussions of such unattainable perfection have been too destructive for me to bare. Here, I practiced moderation. I did talk to some people, I did ask questions in some sessions, I did go to a couple of cocktail hours (well, more like cocktail half-hours for me), and for all that, I felt accomplished.
Knowing ourselves sets us up for success. For most sessions/meetings, I am apt to get more involved if I get there early, introduce myself to the leaders, sit toward the front (which shrinks the room to a cozy chat for me), ask a question early, and contemplate my curiosity. Yet, I also give myself permission to sit toward the back or to leave early if I feel so inclined.
Diversity is beautiful. Diversity at the old oil patch conferences was often the degree of whiteness of the conservative, American, golf-hacking men in the room. But diversity in the arts is clearly much different. Every version imaginable...people of color, all versions of gender, LGBTQ+, young and old, tattoos, colored hair and no hair at all. It's wonderful but, admittedly, requires a personal reset from my oil industry branding.
Let my conscience and morals be our guide. I was in one session on writer impostordom (all writers, to some extent and at certain times, feel they don't belong in the writer community). We compare ourselves with the most accomplished top 1% and convince ourselves, at least momentarily, that we are impostors. I went to a session on impostordom with a panel of four women of color. They spent almost all the time talking about their struggles and challenges to succeed as women and minorities, but little time talking about the subject of the session itself. When asked if male writers may suffer from impostordom to the same degree, the panel was inclined to discount such struggles from the 'privileged'. Now I'm still melding into this diverse creatives community, but I was not ok with that response. So I tactfully challenged the lead panelist that they should invite a guy to join the panel next time to help bring that perspective and perhaps help flesh out the different experiences across gender. But the panelist became defensive and felt I'd missed the point. I was proud to get my voice in the room and left the session with my head held high. The takeaway I had was that even diversity is through the eyes of the beholder!
Before the conference began, my lovely extroverted sister and husband sent me some very kind words of encouragement that included a suggestion to "talk to everyone" because you never know who you will meet or what you will learn. The person I don't talk to could be the next big contact or inspiration. I fully appreciate and understand that perspective. Most extroverts live by that mantra. See our guest blog from an extrovert's perspective for more insights.
But, respectfully, I'm learning about myself and embracing my strengths. I know from my past corporate life where I forced myself to network well beyond my means let alone my comfort zone, that it was just not sustainable. I would always eventually break - drinking, overeating, and bearing the psychosomatic scars to prove it.
While I have no doubts I'd meet more valuable contacts and sell more books with an extrovert's approach, it is so much more important for me to embrace my own introversion which has enabled me to write an introspective book that may help others in need. I am challenging myself every day to be my best self...on my own terms.
Us introverts need to be confident to set our own parameters, manage them, and celebrate our own definitions of success.
Despite all the changes to my initial expectations of this conference, I'm quite proud that I managed to my own sense of moderation and success in San Antonio.
Coming soon...my AWARD WINNING book, In Search of Courage:
I'm so proud to share that In Search of Courage just won the SILVER AWARD from the Nonfiction Authors Association, who noted:
Wallflowers of the world will rejoice upon reading Steve Friedman's account of his journey.
In Search of Courage: An Introvert’s Struggle with Addictive Behavior, is a well-needed book that really goes into depth about being introverted, the feelings involved, and how society views and treats introverts. The stories in this book go from heart-wrenching to heartwarming.
As an introvert myself, I can certainly relate. I cannot imagine how scary it must have been for the author to share so much of himself with the world but I think the fact that he has, proves that he has found the courage that he was in search of. Perhaps this book will help others to do the same! - Nonfiction Authors Association Book Awards Program
March 11 is...MY BIRTHDAY!
It was a Good Run
Today, March 11, is actually my birthday. Full disclosure, I'm 54! Though most would say I'm not near my ideal weight, I would say I'm the happiest and most content I've ever been. I'm so fortunate to be retired, spending quality time with my amazing family, finally embracing my own introversion, reconnecting with my teenage passion for writing, and I'm actually enjoying regular exercise for once.
I jogged a bit when I was a kid because my dad did. I jogged more in my forties to get in better shape for my long bike rides. But I've jogged the last couple of years (mostly) out of joy. I finally don't worry about pace or distance. I just gallop (read: hobble) along to enjoy the scenery and especially to dream, problem solve, and edit my writing in my head. I don't go too far (2-5 miles) and get passed by thirtysomethings, kids, fit elderly, and turtles and snails,..and I don't care.
So you may imagine my distress when I finished my last run ten days ago and started to limp on the left side. My knee was stiff. I really thought nothing of it until it swelled up and got worse. Marching through the writers' conference Convention Hall surely didn't help as the discomfort only continued to grow. So I did two important things...I made a doctor appointment and impatiently Googled my pain (will I never learn - last time I determined I had throat cancer only to be relieved it was a little acid reflux). I assessed my knee pain as a ligament issue (ACL or MCL was beyond my Operations Game expertise). A couple of days ago, I finally got some X-Rays and saw the Orthopedic. Her learned assessment was arthritis! I didn't pull or break anything, I'm just experiencing my debut flare-up.
Initially, I took comfort in this. No surgery, risks, discomfort, or recuperation associated with going under the knife. But that sense of relief did not last, and I've wondered why. Now I know. Arthritis is (generally) an "old-person" disease. I will never get rid of it. Sure, the spike will recede through some ice, meds, and perhaps a cortisone shot, but I now have arthritis. And worse yet, her counseling was to eliminate (or at least dramatically limit) any running or high-impact exercise to preserve my knee and reduce the need for surgery down the road.
I understand, this is just another part of the aging process. I will mourn the loss of my friend. As I transitioned from biking after my accident and shoulder surgery, I will now transition to more gliding on the elliptical, stationary bicycling, and perhaps some swimming.
So as my birthday has arrived, I am exuberantly thankful for all I have, but reserve a bit of a glimmer in my eye for my lost running pal. It's been quite a run!
by Andre Sólo, INTROVERT, DEAR
Andre provides very interesting insights into the "origin" of introversion. As with many things, it's both nature and nurture, both of which form one's personality before we even step into kindergarten.
Introversion isn’t totally genetic. It gets influenced by your environment at a young age, and our genes allow a certain amount of flexibility in response. This happens through “set points,” which are the upper and lower limits of how much extroversion your brain can handle.
As I look back on these pictures of me, I can see "introvert" from the earliest age. Also perhaps shy, content, stylish dresser, and momma's boy (ok, maybe not from the pictures, I just know that!)
ASPECTS IN ART: NEW YORK FLOWER SHOP (3/04/2020)
Now you can see each amazing stroke...in 30 seconds!
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The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Introversion