Can I just tell you how much I am loving my life right now? Not only have I checked off a lot of bucket list items in the past few months, but I've met so many amazing people. Example: Erika, Linda & Liz -- three ladies who run Twin Cities-based Lean In circles. I met them at my TEDx talk and they are amazing people. If you aren't familiar with what a Lean In circle is all about, it's basically a way for women to get together to discuss the challenges they face at work, at home, in life. It's not just a book for women. Actually, I think men could learn a lot from this short-ish, informative book. Really.
Anyhow, they try to get the Minnesota circles together for a super circle once a month for food and conversation. In January, their theme was "Show Your Strength - We Dare You!" and asked me to come and share my Hey Eleanor story. I said I'd be delighted. You know what? I was so much less scared this time around! I could still use some guidance with my public speaking skills, but I think I've vastly improved since the first time I spoke at Studio/e and at the TEDx talk just by becoming more comfortable. FOR THE WIN!
I didn't know what to expect at the event-- I'd heard that there could be anywhere from 10 to 100+ women attending. When the night rolled around, it was something like -10 degrees outside, which kept attendance at about 20 ladies. I was a-okay with that! It really took the pressure off and allowed me to talk to everyone there (all while stuffing my face with hummus).
First, we did an ice breaker where everyone shared their own fears, which only goes to show that "fear" is totally subjective. One woman commented that in some ways, she fears success because it might create resentment amongst her colleagues (interesting, and a completely legitimate fear), another woman cited fear of rejection. Another person claimed they're afraid of cotton balls... which, as someone who can't touch any sort of foam without getting the willies, I can sympathize. And then we circled up and I took the stage (or, more accurately, I took a seat at the head of the table, Power Point presentation ready to go).
I always find the first few minutes of talking to be a little painful-- I'm fairly certain my face gets flush and I know my heart races. But then I started thinking of this room of women being more like my girl friends and it got a whole lot easier. Once I buzzed through my presentation, I fielded some questions, which was really weird! I've never really had an opportunity to talk about myself in public like that... as a general rule, we midwesterners are brought up to be humble and not brag or boast too much. I wasn't bragging nor boasting, but regardless, it was surprisingly more uncomfortable than I had imagined. They asked lots of good questions, some of which were challenging to answer in the moment.
We ended the super circle with everyone else sharing their own stories of times they've pushed through their fears & stumbled upon greatness (one women mentioned that she'd signed up for a painting class after "just thinking about it" for years, literally). And huge props to Calley Bliss, who sang and played a song she wrote on some sort of piano/accordion hybrid (I don't know if I could ever do that... guess I will have to try sometime, but should probably learn how to play an instrument first).
Thanks for the opportunity to lean into my fear of public speaking, ladies! Practice is making it much less scary.