They trusted me to influence lives??
I am writing this as we drive back from a day at my alma mater where they trusted me to be a panelist at the inaugural Senior Summit to talk about transitioning from college to the real world.
Talk about attack of the imposter syndrome? I mean, put me on a panel in a day where professional career advisors have keynotes and workshops; and not to mention, the fellow panelists include a lawyer, and individuals with some idea of what they want to do...who am I to present?
What kind of help will my story bring? How will my story enhance the conversation?
"Hey, my name is Lori. I still don't know what I want to do. Let me help you figure out what you want to do"
Perfect pitch, right?
What were they thinking?!
I panicked for the weeks leading up to this event. Thinking what specific injury or ailment would be needed to respectfully be excused. I planned to go all out so that whatever I landed on would be the truth.
In case, I failed at opting out on the fun, I listened to "The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau on audiotape, spent time weeding through my life's timeline for the successes - which were many more than I remember on a daily basis, and gave myself lots of pep talks about the wonder of meeting alums in the past and being the person that I needed to see back when I was graduating college.
It helped that I had a couple of other people whispering encouragements in my ear as well. I knew that I had lots to give. I give to individuals all the time. I give to the ones nearby and easy to reach. I give in neat little packages. I give anonymously in blogs and poems and thoughts whispered in the air. But, to be the name and face....to be the body to match my body of work and experience? That scared me.
A multitude of inner demons conspired to keep me from showing up. Self-esteem. Self-worth. Self-image. Self respect? Crucial elements to the confidence required to be the purveyor of wisdom and advice, right? I found myself in need of a refill, and quickly. But, there was not enough time. But remember, "show up, something good will happen if you’re there". And I did.
At the summit, I had 3 main points of focus:
- To be honest - nothing is more annoying than disingenuous panelists that you can't relate to;
- To tie my knowledge to the wisdom that the students were hearing from other presenters - making the ideas that resonated with me sticky for them
- To emphasize the importance of using the network built into their college experiences and our school's legacy and alumnae. - there is over 200 years of amazing to connect with, if you really want it.
Add a little humor and a lot of reality and humility to the mix and it was a blast.
The panel was filled with amazing women, all of whom I knew or had reason to know about. The friend who recommended me for the panel was the moderator. Many of the school representatives in the building were people I knew and all the presenters that I met were welcoming and open. My nerves had a chance but not a fighting one.
In the end, I got to start an ad hoc mentorship with a student who identified with my unique path, to gain contacts with people who can help contribute to my community at work, and to eat scallops and risotto for the first time. Add a bag of Atkins Apple Cider donuts to the mix and you can call the trip a major win!
Had I not gone, it would have been yet another Sunday wasted.
Defying those demons of self doubt and making the effort to show up, yielded unparallel rewards. The people that I met and the impressions that we made on each other will yield benefits for quite a time to come.
I am excited. What's next? Let's do more!