Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let Them Come To You

Sometimes I find myself wondering if I come across as trying too hard.

Not the anxiety/paranoia situation where I am standing in front of a group explaining something and in the back of my mind is the little voice going “What the hell are you doing? What makes you an expert here? Why are you talking? No one is listening to you anyway. You have sweat stains under your armpits, keep your arms down! Oh, don’t bring up that again!”

No, that little voice I’m used to and can ignore with the help of wonderful meditation techniques, homeopathic anti-anxiety tabs, or a glass of wine. Or just barreling through so fast the voice can’t get a word in edgewise and nobody understands what I’m saying!

This is the vibe of unreason that says “This person thinks you’re trying to kiss their ass.” Or “This person feels like you aren’t worth their time.” Or “What, she got invited to this? What is she doing here? She doesn’t know enough to be here!”

This is me standing in a room with strangers and acquaintances alike, conversing with whomever happens to be near as we all swirl around on our ‘networking paths’. Where I’m extremely comfortable with the subject or the place and can spend the next hour talking with a handful of people about really cool stuff we’re all working on, or I can spend an awkward two minutes and thirty-six seconds talking with a handful of people about projects, the weather, or what so-and-so is up to.

Because the latter is a conversation with someone who seems to think I’m still the 15 year old girl they saw in a play or my education is lacking or I’m not really qualified to be talking about things even if it’s just opinions.

It’s a weird vibe and I dislike it. I feel like I’m being me, trying to make a conversation, but feel as if they think I’m trying too hard.

But I feel I have to ‘play nice’ because so many of these people that make me feel this way are influential in many of the business and networking circles in this area*, and as I develop my own brand and portfolio, I need to at least be cordial.

This is not about the former. Those are conversations I’d love to have every day. These are people who know I’m genuine when I ask about their family or plans, they know I’m not there to kiss ass or hope for a few minutes of face time just so I can hand someone my card. I don’t play that way. The modeling world, amongst the management and other lives I’ve lived thus far, taught me that I’d much rather be the real me.

So Rob tells me to just say “Fuck ‘em”, although he did point out I should not walk around saying it repetitively out loud. He may have a point.

I’m perfectly capable of holding my own in most conversations. I’m fairly well-read, I know the difference between marketing and sales, I have a varied but talented background, and I’m not as young or innocent as I look. I’m content enough in myself to stand to the side and watch others dance the ego-tangos and chat and mock laugh while absorbing the choices in music and food and art on the walls without feeling the need to go stand next to someone so I don’t feel left out.

So what if I choose not to interact in a few instances?

Instead of getting the vibe that they think I don’t know anything and I’m trying too hard, what if I choose to not bother with them. Does this make them feel slighted? Annoyed? Like I’m a bitch? When in reality I’m off in my own world, which is a place I’d rather be anyway, not trying at all?

It’s difficult to navigate this avenue of perceptions and networking while retaining a sense of reality and self. I mean, I’d much rather tell that small voice in the back of my mind to fuck off rather than another person who is treating me like I’m not worth their time.

*Thankfully, not everyone. Just a lot of them. There are some genuine folks who do what they do well, who care, who talk to everyone as equals and are leaders in this area, and I admire them greatly. If you know Bob Rice, you know who I mean.


Deb Brown said...

You just just brilliantly put into words EXACTLY how I feel sometimes.

I like the idea of staying in my own world where I like it and I'm comfortable.

But, ahh, growth - requires stepping into the uncomfortable. God how I hate that sometimes!

thanks for the post,

heather said...

Thank you Deb, sometimes putting these fears into words helps work through them!

N.C. said...

So glad I found you via Twitter. You have so many amazing things to say. I too, feel like I go through many of the scenarios you pointed out. The constant struggle with the "proper" way to network versus coming off as an arrogant ass who wants you to use him for work.

Glad I found you!

heather said...

Welcome N.C.!
It's a nice reminder that we go through these thoughts and feelings and are not alone with it. I look forward to seeing more of your stuff too.

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