Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Those Girls: What Do You Hide Behind?

I found this series of photos in my laptop Photobooth folder (God bless that wonderful app) and I was shocked at how many photos I have of myself covering my face (ie. my mouth) with something. Usually its a bag of chips or a cup of coffee or even my dog, but around 50% were like this! It got me thinking literally AND metaphorically: what am I hiding behind?

hiding self portraits assemble shop

I happen to have the gift of ignoring foresight, which means that I see what terrible things could happen if I go for a certain goal, but regardless of those things, I tend to leap anyway. Some would call that bravery, and others would probably call it stupidity. This "gift" has gotten me into plenty of scrapes, I have to say, but has definitely gotten me into several other lovely situations, including but not limited to: several lead roles in high school plays, a pageant or two (yes, now you know, get over it), moving to a handful of cities alone without knowing anyone (including Seattle), and loveliest of all: Assemble.

Regardless of this bravery/stupidity cocktail, I truly enjoy that Emily does most of the "appearances" for Assemble. I like to be the online/silent partner and she does just fine in the limelight, answering questions for interviews, speaking at conferences or just plain chatting with customers. Emily has a natural knack for formulating eloquent responses and always seems to be cheerful and lovely. I, on the other hand, develop an immediate social anxiety whenever I'm within two feet of 1} anyone I admire, 2} anyone who is asking me a question which may be published in any variety, and 3} whenever a camera comes anywhere near me. Document the silly things I say? No, thank YOU. I was fine as a teenager playing a part on stage, because they gave me lines! I knew what to say. But when it comes to the things that I know the most about (business, design, craft, Assemble), I freeze up like an Otter Pop. Why? I meet people all the time that babble on about things that they know nothing about, so why is it so difficult for me to represent myself and my business that I know so well?

otter pop andie
Otter Pop Andie drawing by Christian Powers. The rest, by Otter Pops

We chatted a bit a while ago about Imposter Syndrome. I truly believe that this plagues more of us than we realize. Incredibly intelligent, creative and innovative women (and men) who back away from possible successes because they are too unsure. Do you find yourself backing away because you either 1} don't want to toot your own horn or 2} because you are afraid that you might be told you are wrong or your idea isn't good enough? Does it stifle your words or your creativity? If so, I've got an activity for us all. I'm going to do it too.

Our homework today is:
Write a 'letter' or a list to yourself explaining your qualifications--what are your talents, your attributes, your successes? Write them down and keep them safe. I don't care how successful a person is, everyone needs to remind themselves of this from time to time. Even Oprah.
Identify what you are hiding from. Mine is in social dealings with customers, press or interviewers. Now ask yourself: what are you afraid will happen if you change this behavior? Mine is: I will say something stupid. ...so? I do all the time.
Do the thing that you have been avoiding doing because you are unsure or nervous. For example: submit your product to that shop you love, apply for your dream job, take a class in something you've always wanted to learn (and DON'T bring a friend).
Fail up. Say the above venture doesn't go as you wished it would. Learn from it. Ask questions. Document what you will do differently next time.
Repeat the entire process again and again until you get it right.

I'm interested to know: what do you hide behind?

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