Introverting at an Unconference
I’ve been back in my usual routine of working, coaching, creating, and general adventuring on the East Coast now for a month since leaving Portland, Oregon. The purpose for my time in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (ya know, other than to get out and see this incredible world!) was to attend World Domination Summit. In case you haven’t heard of WDS, it’s designed for those of us who are living or aspiring to live a non-traditional lifestyle while also wanting to make a mark. In short, it’s kind of like an adult summer camp for the genuine do-gooders and big dreamers.
Before we dive into how I managed my first multi-day conference, a short recap is in order of how I wound up in Portland with a few thousand incredible people from all over the globe.
If you’ve been following along, then you’ll remember I was fortunate to catch Chris Guillebeau’s Born For This book tour in Philadelphia back in May. I was about to head out for the night when I stopped to chat with Chris who mentioned WDS and how he thought it might be a good fit for me. “Sure,” I thought, “I’ll think about it.” About an hour’s drive later and I was in bed clicking around on the website only to see that tickets were sold out but an alternative ticket option had been released. That wasn’t going to cut it for me because I knew if I was going to really go for it, I wanted access to the main stage and every single keynote speaker. I wanted to fully experience WDS and soak up as much of it as possible.
I woke up the next morning and, as with a few other big decisions, I left my ticket up to chance. I would put my feelers out for a main stage ticket, but ultimately if I was meant to be in Portland that week then everything would fall into place. I had no luck with a Google search or a search on Craigslist in several different cities so I turned to almighty Facebook and I stumbled upon two separate people who wanted to sell their tickets. I sent a message to both of them and I received an answer from one of the two who happened to live in Portland. He wasn’t going to be able to attend the year's festivities so the ticket was all mine.
So, it was meant to be and I was headed to the Rose City for a week of community, adventure, and service with a bunch of strangers.
Then it really set in. I was traveling to a new city to connect with people who I had yet to meet to chat about the things which light us up all by myself. And for those of you who don’t know, or didn’t get the hint with the title, this girl is highly introverted. No pressure, right?
I knew I needed a game plan of sorts to maintain both my energy and enthusiasm going into the long weekend which was going to be filled to the brim with meetups and activities on top of numerous keynote talks. Here is how I stayed ener-jazzed (see what I did there 😉) while having just about the best few days with a few thousand strangers.
POSITIVE ATTITUDE & AN OPEN MIND
The first official event of my weekend was an Ice Cream Social hosted by WDSers from San Diego. Really, they had me at ice cream so I walked to the designated meeting place and then almost decided not to partake in the ice cream adventure. If you’re a fellow introvert or happen to love one, then you know just how intimidating a crowd of laughing people can be. I acknowledged my fear and answered back with, “I didn’t come this far to back away from every single thing that makes me nervous.”
The ice cream was delicious and the bike ride along the Willamette River with a group of new friends afterwards was so worth it. Knowing when to push yourself outside of your comfort zone is an important life hack especially when you want to live an extraordinary life. I kept the same attitude throughout my time in Portland and I had amazing conversations with people who truly are making this world a better place.
HONESTY & IncreasED SELF CARE
I love a good beer and exploring a new city just as much as the next girl but I knew it was of the utmost importance to conserve some stamina and rest up knowing it was a marathon of a weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed my time in Portland but I’m happy I called it a night and put myself to bed when I did.
I also chose to spend specific breaks and meals between main stage events by myself. Each of the speakers brought so much to the table that I needed to physically and mentally digest it all. Lucky for me and the rest of us introverts at WDS, there was a Highly Sensitive Person Lounge which was all sorts of rejuvenating. I’m talking hammocks, bean bags, and massages!
For me, this included headphones, my iPhone, business cards, and coffee. The use of headphones can occasionally come off as rude but they are hugely beneficial when you want (or need) a few minutes to yourself. I listened to music during my walk every morning which pumped me up that much more for the day’s events. My iPhone acted as my notebook for the weekend because I could take notes, jot down any and all ideas, and snap a ton of photos. It was also handy to have so I could instantly connect with new friends via social media.
Business cards are always a good thing to have on hand but they are essential when you’re networking with loads of like-spirited people. A rule I followed and will continue to follow was to give out a card only when asked for one. Also, you cannot visit Portland without imbibing in a cup, or ten, of good coffee. It was a little slice of heaven between the amount of local coffee shops and the proximity of Starbucks.
I knew and I continually reminded myself I was in the presence of some of the most accepting and encouraging people an introverted girl with big dreams could ask for. Many attendees I met and chatted with had also experienced feeling nervous or reserved during their first WDS and had since gone on to become confident connectors with business partners and masterminds all over the world.
I thrived during this week in a brand new city not knowing a single soul beforehand and it was an unforgettable experience. So, needless to say, I purchased my ticket for #WDS2017 before leaving Portland and I’m stoked to head back next summer for another one-of-a-kind adventure and a heaping dose of inspiration.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARMOSA STUDIOS