Over the Independence Day holiday weekend my beloved and I traveled to Portland, Oregon to celebrate our one year anniversary (woot!) and attend the World Domination Summit (Is it what you think it is? I don’t know… what do you think it is?), because we’re geeky like that–it works for us!
Heading to #WDS2013 I thought I was going to launch my coaching business and along with it, my new, remarkable life. Although I never made it here to blog about that intention, I’ll own up to it fully now: I was armed with a stack of postcards I had slaved over for weeks to solicit contributions for my debut product (an online workshop experience like thingy that was yet to be defined) and over breakfast on day one my beloved and I engaged in networking role play (again, we’re geeky like that).
Because that’s what people like me do, right? Conscious, intelligent, creative, nonconformist women coach, blog, speak, and write. They have eCourses and eBooks generating passive income for themselves as they go on photowalks in their hipster neighborhoods and make yogurt out of non-dairy milks (it may sound like I’m poking fun, but really I’m describing my personal heaven). They would never do anything as horrifically dull and conventional (judgmental language and emphasis mine) as hold down a 9-5 job. They work for themselves! They answer to no one! Except maybe their adorably photogenic toddler… (ack, my son is six–I’m running out of time! shouts the internal dialogue…)
I’ve been an observer of this community since I started my blog in late 2011. I was reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at the time. I found Brene Brown and Danielle LaPorte soon after. I read $100 Startup. I was a collector of inspirational figures. I followed them all on Facebook and Twitter. I subscribed to all of their blogs and feeds. I admired them from afar, concocting stories in my head about what their lives must be like and formulating a plan to get mine from where it was to the fantasy I had established for all of us. And I wrote my blog. And I waited for them to find me and invite me into the fold.
When I learned about WDS in 2012 I had elevated the folks involved to such a high status that I wouldn’t have considered going even if there were tickets available. When my beloved suggested #WDS2013 as an anniversary trip, I answered yes from a much more confident, complete version of myself–and expected to be ready to use it as an opportunity to insert myself in this world I had been coveting.
I entered the first official session of WDS eager to merge with the community. Maybe too eager. I might have skipped the essential step of intentional self care in an expectedly intense environment. The logistics of the experience were challenging for me. We wanted to be there early and get a good seat and feel settled, but that meant sitting in a theater of nearly 3,000 people for an hour while the din of their conversation rose to levels that prevented me from hearing myself speak at a normal volume. It was overwhelming. There was a “Highly Sensitive Person’s Lounge” with hammocks (hammocks!), but there was also a packed schedule. I didn’t sit in a hammock. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t feeling great.
I noticed people around me feeling energized and connected by their interactions with one another–old friends and first time meetings alike. They seemed to be able to connect over the noise level and through the crowds in the hallways. Many had been before, when there were only 500 or 1000 people in attendance and that endowed them with the superpower of creating intimacy among 3000. I wanted what they were having. Whatever they were doing, feeling, or saying was the “right” way to experience WDS and I needed to get myself there. I couldn’t see yet that I was seeking something inauthentic and by focusing on that goal I nearly missed what I really got out of the weekend.
As I look back I can see the series of events that took place that brought me from my lovingly misguided intention (start something new, be a super social, slyly self promoting genius and therefore: be remarkable) to where I am now (embracing current existence as remarkable):
1. When Darren Rowse told us our next big thing might be the little thing in front of us, tears dripped down my face, splashing into my lap and when he brought Clare Bowditch up to sing to us about how we don’t have to be complete to let ourselves be seen–I sobbed.
2. When Gretchen Rubin was speaking (yes, Happiness Project-Gretchen Rubin, the one who started it all for me!) about knowing ourselves, she asked us to write down who we envied and why and I wrote: Gretchen Rubin–because she has what I want. Gretchen is an author and a speaker folks, not a coach.
3. When Tess Vigeland was speaking about her journey of discovery after leaving what was once a dream job I kept waiting to hear her say she had left her position in public radio because she discovered she wanted something else… but she never did. She didn’t have exactly what she wanted yet, but she still knew that radio was her calling.
4. Finally, when Donald Miller spoke I found myself squirming in my seat. He joked about having published five memoirs already… I find myself incredibly interesting too–where are my published memoirs?!
Shit, I realized, I don’t want to be a coach. I want to be a writer. I am a writer.
And I came home on the plane with that resolution. I am a writer. Time to start writing. I could take much of the energy I had put into the collaborative product I was developing for the coaching brand and use that strategy to build my author’s platform instead. I was going to start writing again. I’d blog weekly. I’d write daily. I’d become remarkable (aka published) no matter how long it took…
This morning I saw a post on the WDS Facebook group asking for advice to help stay energized when still stuck in the 9-5 and all this energy came flooding through me… Be okay with being in a 9-5, I heard in my head, make that remarkable. And for the rest of that day I practiced just that. I was remarkable at work. At my 9-5 job. The one where I work with a wonderful team, have abundant development opportunities, get to give my gifts through teaching/facilitation–planning/organizing–and–system designing, and have a delightful balance of flexibility and stability that allows me to manage my life with ease. While always acknowledging that it’s a great job, I’ve judged it and myself for having it. It felt unremarkable to work for someone else in the program my brain was running. Turns out, it’s not just a great job–it can be remarkable too, when I decide to be remarkable doing it.
I’m realizing, in fact, anything we do can be done remarkably. The part of my brain that knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line deduced that to get from where I was to what I perceived as “remarkable” I would need to be a coach. Because that’s what remarkable people who could coach did, they coached, and I could coach–so I should coach.
Guess what brain? I don’t want to be a coach. I’m a writer. I don’t need to coach to be a writer. I need to write to be a writer. I don’t need to coach to be remarkable. Writing is remarkable–and not only that… Plumbers, doctors, lawyers, cooks, bus drivers, building managers, real estate agents, accountants, food servers, bartenders, theater ushers, and training & staff development specialists at large non-profit organizations are potentially remarkable as well. The key seems to be knowing the true impact of what we’re we’re doing and focusing on as much as we’re doing so.
One day back into real life I am not 100% clear about whether I enjoyed my time at WDS. I have a lot of affection for it, but it was painful at times. I was moving very rapidly between spaces where I could access joy and inspiration and spaces where I was too overwhelmed or overstimulated to feel anything at all. I spent a lot of energy wanting the experience I perceived others around me were having (I don’t know, not even now, that they really were…) instead of honoring myself, my limits and having my own experience. It was exhausting. I’m not sure if an event of this scale can provide an environment where I’ll be able to thrive. I might not go back (until I’m on stage talking about turning life transitions into life transformation, of course. I’m totally up for that).
On the other hand, I loved much of the official programming and had a generous handful of delightful moments in line with fellow WDSers that nurtured me and had me feeling connected to a vibrant community. The team who puts the event together does a thoughtful job of creating an inclusive, high quality experience for all attendees (even if we don’t take advantage of the resources available to us because we’re stubborn). And the kick ass group Bollywood dance session at the closing party shook most, if not all, of my self-judgment and regret out of my body in a glorious finale. Maybe this is a “lesson learned” moment and I can return with new knowledge and tools for self care and healthy expectation and have my version of a blast!
More than anything else, whether it was comfortable or not, what I got from WDS was the gift of (knowing I already have) a remarkable life (and I can tap into it any time I choose).
And guess what? you do too.
The plan I had on the plane is the same. Blogging 1-2 times weekly. Writing daily. Building an author’s platform. The only difference is that I’ll go ahead and be remarkable now–rather than waiting for a publish date.
I thought #WDS2013 would be the start of a new, more remarkable life. Instead, #WDS2013 inspired me to live my current life remarkably.