I’m not exactly a social butterfly. The thought of stepping outside of my comfort zone makes me… well, uncomfortable. But this week I’ll be joining my friend Kristen (she doesn’t know me, but I read her blog every week, which makes her a very comfortable friend) and leaving my comfort zone behind as I travel across state lines to attend a homeschool convention that’s taking place near me. (Kristen is not actually attending this convention [I wish she were!] but overcame fears of her own to attend another convention that was held earlier this year. Just to clarify.) In Kristen’s words:
“That would be a real life convention. With people. In real life.”
And I’m going by myself.
“Comfort zone? Completely obliterated.”
My thoughts, exactly.
One of my very best friends, whom I also met on the internet and have never actually met in person (but I have had actual conversations with her – phone conversations, even. Several of them), called me this morning to let me know that she’s going to be attending a convention that is being held close to me, and wanted to know if I could come.
If she’d asked me a year ago, I’d have said no. In fact, when she mentioned it a few months ago I wasn’t too keen on the idea. But a recent series of blog posts from another friend (someone else whom I’ve never actually met) have been encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone more often – which I’ve been doing. In baby steps.
For instance, I’ve been making eye contact with people at the grocery store. I’ve been saying “hi” to people at the library. I even asked a woman I don’t know very well if she’d be interested in meeting up at the park sometime.
Can you tell that I’m much more comfortable in blog land than with real people?
But I’m leaving behind the safety of my computer screen this week to attend a conference with hundreds of people I’ve never met before (unless, of course, you count my friend whom I’ve had phone conversations with.) Not only that, but I’ll be driving there. By myself. In traffic. Oh – and did I mention that I’ll be staying with several other families? Whom I’ve never met before?
But I’m excited, too. I’m excited to be stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m excited to be trying something new. I’m excited that I’m going to meet new people and hopefully make some new friends.
And may I take a moment to say that the reason I’m even willing to do this has a lot to do with you? Yes, you. Those of you who read this blog, and especially those who comment. Non-bloggers don’t understand it when I tell them this, but blogging has given me more confidence. In blogging, I’ve found a parallel world where I’m given the freedom to be myself and express myself in whatever way I feel led, and I’ve gathered this little following of readers who have become my friends. I feel supported and encouraged by you, and it’s amazing to have a place where I can be myself and if people don’t like it, they can leave without me ever even knowing it (most of the time!) I’ve learned that I can be myself and make friends. I’ve also learned that not everyone is going to like me (I do get the occasional nasty comment), and I’ve learned how to deal with it (click “delete” and focus on those who support me!) And as I’ve learned how to handle rejection in blog-land, I’ve become more willing to risk it in the real world. The confidence I’ve gained here is slowly starting to leak out there.
So I want to say “thank you” to those of you who have encouraged and supported me through comments and emails, and for those who might be lurking in the background, this would be a really wonderful time for you to come out of hiding because I’d really like to meet you!
And now that I’ve reminded myself of the awesome supporters I have at home… err… across the internet… I feel ready to have an amazing time at the conference. With all those people. In real life. Whom I’ve never met before.
Um… pray for me, ‘yall.