May I put this little piece of vulnerability out there so you can see a side of me that you may not realize I struggle with? It’s a story of the internal struggle between heart and mind. The struggle between logic and – well – “you seriously think that??” The “things that make you go hmmmmmmm”. The “I would never have thought of you like that!” It’s a spoon theory story (look it up if you’re not familiar, it’s a real thing!)
I’m at a conference. One of my favorite writers is here. He’s written a couple of books that I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, learned that he’s also hosting a conference here in a few months and I’m all worked up in a tizzy because I want to ask him a question about that conference. To set the scene, this is not the type of conference where someone speaks then disappears off the face of the earth – no – the presenters, for the most part, are also part of the audience, they hang around, mingle, talk with attendees. They want to see and be seen. This is their jam. We are their people. They are our people. They are invested in being part of the crowd.
So, for a full twenty-four hours, I work up the courage to approach him with my question. It’s a very short question. One that he will be able to answer in a few words. A yes or no, even. In true introvert fashion, I replay all the possible versions of the conversation in my head: my brief introduction (will I use the friendly approach or the groveling superfan?), the super short question, the one-sentence reply followed by the “thank you so much” and the hasty retreat. Bing bam boom. All done.
Except it didn’t happen like that.
Because it rarely does. Does it?
As I said, for 24 hours I built up my courage (that right there took all my spoons, kwim?) I was in the common area of the venue when I saw him headed for the theater. Yes, he looked like he was walking with a purpose, but people with authority do that. That’s part of the authority. Skate to the puck.
And I did it. I pulled all the courage from the bottom of my toes right up to the base of my throat, sent my “oh my god, oh my god, you can’t do this” fears packing and with one mighty breath I spewed forth “HEY JEFF!!! Can I ask you a really quick question?”
“I have to get in there.”
[Internal dialog – at a million thoughts per minute]: It’s fine. No, Vikki. It’s not fine. He’s busy. You’re stupid. You shouldn’t have asked. You could see he was headed to the theater. Why did you ask? Couldn’t you see he was busy? Why didn’t you wait? You could have asked in an email. Your question? It was a stupid question anyway. He probably has a team that handles stupid questions. If you thought about it you probably know the answer anyway. You were just using it as an excuse to talk to him. Why bother? He has no interest in talking to you. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. [End internal dialog]
It’s going to take me another twenty-four hours to muster enough chutzpah to work through that again. And even more time to rehearse the rejection scenarios I didn’t account for last time.