As a someone who lives on the cusp of introvert and extrovert, big events like the World Domination Summit are both a thrill and a challenge. Luckily, at a conference about non-conformity, no one bats an eye if you spend time in a hammock instead of networking! But even this very understanding environment, it takes a bit of pluck to give yourself the loving care you need when it seems like everyone else is joining the party!
It’s taken me years to feel comfortable opting out when things become too much (or better yet, before they become too much). I’ve worried people would find me unfriendly and I just hated the prospect of missing out on anything, especially building friendships. But I’ve also learned that if I don’t take my time to walk and breathe and process and be quiet, I really do miss out. Nothing sinks in and I actually become less friendly and less available because I’m totally tapped out.
When I take care of myself well, I can be really present with people and have lots of love and listening to offer when we’re together. And I’m getting better at trusting that I won’t miss out, that what’s meant for me is there for me. And I am totally okay with being wired the way I’m wired. In fact, I just tell people I need the downtime or the quiet and almost all the time, they totally get it! In fact, I talked to so many people that were going through the same thing that I invited some creative introverts and highly sensitive people to share their best tips for self-care during events like conferences – and got so many great responses I’ve created two posts!
I hope this conversation inspires you to step into these kinds of experiences with confidence, knowing it’s okay to do what you need to do and you are not alone.
Thank you so much to all of these wonderful contributors!
Take breaks when you need to. It’s okay to skip out on presentations if you need some quiet time to recharge or to integrate your learnings. I used to force myself to power through each and every talk and breakout session so I could “get my money’s worth.” But I wasn’t really taking anything in when I was actually zoning out or feeling zapped. I’ve learned it’s better to step outside and enjoy some fresh air, journal, or eat a snack. I often times will go back to my hotel room at breaks, slip under the covers for a quick nap or just to surround myself with quiet calm. At WDS I loved the hammock lounge. It was the perfect place for this HSP/introvert to recharge. You can see me getting my hammock time in this short and silly video.
Also letting yourself play hooky from the “main event” means you might even bump into the perfect person to sit down with and engage in a deep and meaningful conversation together. Those rich and heartfelt connections are usually what make these type of events so worthwhile for me.
Be gentle and compassionate with yourself and listen to what you need.
First, I’m very careful to pay attention to my body. I keep a water bottle in my hand and a granola bar in my bag, and I never let myself get too hungry or thirsty. I’m also the first person to head back to the hotel and go to bed. I’m useless and weepy without enough sleep.
But the thing I’ve discovered that helps me most is knitting. Having a simple knitting project keeps my hands busy which seems to keep me present and in tune with my physical self, and it also helps me through those awkward introvert moments. I can duck out of conversations gracefully by concentrating on my stitches, and occasionally when I’m overstimulated, knitting is a quick escape.
Jolie Guillebeau is a story-teller, knitter and painter, who lives in Portland and keeps a stash of chocolate covered jellybeans in her bag. She’s willing to share if you’re sitting next to her at a conference.
Ah, conferences. A chance to meet people you’ve only known on-line. Profitable contacts. Helpful tips. New information. And all that glorious, inspiring energy!
It’s enough to make a High Sensitive Person shake in their boots.
HSP’s and introverts need to take special care at conferences – lest the noise, the small talk, and the non-stop information overload their super-senses. And this, my tuned-in friends, is why you need a room of your own.
I know it’s expensive. I know it’s tempting to grab a roommate. But unless you can bunk with someone you know (and mesh with) really really well, don’t do it. You’ll need the sanctuary of your room to be quiet, get still, and reboot. At the end of the day, come “home,” take a long shower, put on your comfiest loungewear and pour yourself a big glass of water. You might try editing down your scrawled notes from the day so you can stop trying to hold all your new ideas in your busy mind. Or maybe a few yoga poses are in order. Call your family, rest your aching feet, and just watch Glee on your laptop. Do whatever helps you refill and recharge so you can get the biggest bang for your conference buck in tomorrow’s sessions.
When conferences get overwhelming, listen to your inner mama. She’ll probably tell you to, “Go to your room!”
Rachelle Mee-Chapman helps people create right-fit spiritual practices at Magpie Girl: Care for creative souls.
The best choice I made at WDS as a “socially challenged” person was to just allow myself to be as I am. I have a thing about personal space, and can only tolerate crowds of people for so long before I need room to dance, as it were. So during breaks, I wormed my way thru the crush of happily chattering souls at the front door, crossed the street to the park for some quiet time, and spent a few minutes in meditation. I accepted that it’s okay to be on the edges but still part of the gathering, and stopped feeling bad that I’m not exactly a social butterfly. This softened sense of acceptance allowed me to go back in and converse with others more freely during the breakout sessions, and melted my resistance and false assumption that there’s only one way to behave at a conference. The resulting relaxed ease that I felt made it possible for me to speak to the folks I truly felt moved to connect with, particularly the speakers and workshop leaders. And I came away from WDS with a new sense of capability, and anticipation of more involved participation in these gatherings as I grow into my freedom.
Laurie Sutton is a jewelry artist, adventurer and introspective writer, embarking on her first online creative/business venture at watersedgecreative.com
Tomorrow get conference tips and streategies from Jennifer Louden, Natalie Currie, Joy Agcongay, Kate Swoboda and Rachel Cole.