I am an idea grrrl. But I'm not a follow-through-on-my-ideas kind of grrrl. I have a vision. In fact, I have several visions. I have new visions all the time. But I don't necessarily do anything about it.
I've come up with all sorts of ideas, grand schemes, life plans. Some are huge and somewhat unrealistic - living in a cooperative community, opening a creative playspace museum for children - but others are smallish and entirely conceivable should I just get to work - hosting round-table discussions in my home, hosting 'Fridays in the Field' field trips for homeschoolers, speaking on unschooling.
I just have trouble believing in my own 'credentials.' In true codependent form, I am my own worst critic. But where most successful people simply adapt their strategy when they fail, rather than quit or get derailed, I talk myself out of things before I ever get started.
It's not always true. There are plenty of things I do and accomplish. What I get hung up on, though, are those things that involve really putting myself out there, really marketing myself. I can do the occasional class for homeschoolers, tutor the occasional student, direct the occasional play, arrange the occasional PR for an event; but tossing my name into the hat for new things - big new things - intimidates me.
I like entering through the back door. I like it when my debut occurs organically, by happenstance, or accidentally. Once I'm in, once I've accomplished something, once I've established I can do a thing, then I'm comfortable. In the end I even find myself more brazen then ever, buoyed by my own dumb luck. Next thing you know, I go from saying I'll serve cookies at an event to running the operation the following year. I love that.
And that's how it happened that I'm speaking at next year's
Before attending this year's event, I waited until the last minute to submit a proposal for a roundtable discussion. Naturally, the slots were filled. But it so happened that I know Debra through our blogs, and when she heard I was coming she invited me to join her panel and share my story for their "Redesigning Education" workshop. It went very well and I enjoyed it very much.
Later that evening, the UWWG organizer, Carol Reinhard said she heard good things about our talk and yesterday, I got my official invitation to speak at next year's event!
And it all happened without my having to put myself out there; without having to say, "Hire me: I'm a speaker."
I'm still irritated with myself, though. I'd like to get over my insecurities, get past my fears, and take more initiative to do some of the big things I long to do. Perhaps that means I need to pick the brains of those who do these things. Perhaps that means I need to brush up on marketing skills. Perhaps that means I need to commit myself to my vision on a regular basis. Perhaps that means doing for myself what I urge others to do - treat myself gently and believe in my own gifts. And if definitely means I need to quit prioritizing sweeping the floor over writing another article to submit to homeschooling magazines.
I sold another small article this week. Occasionally I submit freelance articles to a middle-man organization called Constant Content. It's a site that sells your content to buyers seeking articles for their publications, newsletters, and blogs. Constant Content gets a cut, of course, and you don't get a byline (essentially, you're a ghostwriter) but it's been a good way to get my feet wet; see if I'm publishable. Today I received notice that I sold usage rights to an article I wrote some time ago; one that I thought was destined to languish on the site forever. A fun surprise!
These small accomplishments revive my enthusiasm for big dreams and visions. Maybe I really am a writer. Maybe I really can be a speaker.
Today, I grabbed my notebook and gathered all the workshop ideas I've been jotting down for many months. They were scattered and disconnected ideas, penned while I was driving and had an "aha" moment, or inspired by the words of another speaker, or revealed as I answered the questions of a new and worried unschooler. I compiled the ideas into workshops. I even wrote the descriptions.
Too many times I'd think,"I want to speak too" only to have that thought followed by, "But on what topic?" Unschooling is an obvious choice, sure, but even that needed to be fleshed out a bit.
Now I am one giant step closer to putting myself out there. Have topics - will speak.
Sharing this with you on my blog is giant step #2.
I'll work on the other obstacles another day.