I was at a conference earlier this month and met the same woman three times. We were introduced on Wednesday. I sat next to her and “met” her again on Thursday. On Friday morning, when she put her hand out to meet me again, I reminded her that we had sat next to each other at dinner the night before. Not a big dinner. One with about 15 people in a small room at a restaurant.
Apparently, nothing about me was memorable.
Folks who witnessed our third (intentionally awkward) exchange offered up excuses to make the situation less weird. There was a lot of “Oh, there’s so many people at these things! Totally understandable. Haha!” and “I’m the same way. So not good with faces!”
I gave her a pass because it wasn’t that big of deal, but I had to say something. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met people I already knew. People that I had worked on the same campaign with, or even hired for gigs with one of my previous employers. Even after hearing my name, they still wouldn’t know me. I had gotten used to it. But no more. Addressing it and not allowing folks to diminish my existence by not remembering me, that’s new.
For years, I’ve been content to stay in the background of life. Even when I’m standing centerstage, I’m still somehow in the wings. It goes back to not wanting to bother folks when I was a kid, and wanting to stay out of the way. As I got older, it was wanting to make sure the people who felt like me, unseen, were recognized. Whenever there was attention on me, I’d pull someone else onstage with me to share the spotlight.
While I never did that to get anything back, seeing people that I’ve supported thrive while I was still forgotten in the background, that started to get to me. I work in an industry where people need to know me in order for me to make a living. They need to respect me and have an idea of what I’m good at. My business was suffering because I was allowing myself to fade into the background.
Also? Most importantly, my daughter is watching everything I do. She’s observing how I interact with people and how they treat me. She is very aware of the respect that I receive from the brilliant women in my Courage to Earn community, and listens in when my friends and I are making big plans for our businesses. I am her model for self-love and confidence.
It can be difficult, to learn to balance humility with being “out there”, but it can be done.
4 things about standing in the spotlight
1. No one is looking behind the curtains for a star. If I want to find success, I have to put myself out there.
2. The energy I put out about myself and my presence travels. If I don’t truly believe I’m worth remembering, no one else will.
3. There are still plenty of opportunities to share the stage, but sometimes I need to stand in the spotlight alone. That’s okay.
4. Being loud isn’t the only way to be seen. I can be myself (sheltered, introverted, relaxed-ish) and still succeed.
So, back to that awkward exchange I had at the conference. We shook it off, moved on, and had a great group conversation at breakfast. She even wrote me a sweet note the next day which I really appreciated.
Later that evening, I won the 2018 Iris Award for Entrepreneur of the Year.I worked hard this year, stepping outside of my discomfort to show people who I really am. Besides the award, it has opened up opportunities that I’ve been able to pass along to those folks that I love to share the spotlight with so much. I was nominated by my peers, and they decided that I was worthy of the honor. You know what?