We’re excited to bring you this unique guest post from one of our 2011 attendees, Crissie of Run Crissie Run. As folks reading the internet right now, I’m sure we can all relate. Personally, my social anxiety tends to be at its lowest around vegans, and that’s clearly another credit to this community. Without further adieu, we present Crissie’s Vida Vegan Con experience…
Vida Vegan Con: A Lesson in Shyness
If there are degrees of shyness, I have them all. Loud, outspoken, passionate, sensitive, eloquent, intelligent, funny, goofy, quiet, wallflower, timid…I am all of those things.
It’s amazing to me how different I can feel depending on the situation I am in. In a professional environment, I am confident, outgoing, articulate, firm, and when I need to be…challenging. No one who knows me in that setting would ever call me shy. I can envision MANY adjectives used to describe me there…but shy is not typically one of them.
In a social setting, however, it’s a different story. I almost never initiate a conversation (though if you approach me, good luck getting me to shut up). I will stand on the periphery and watch people go by. I will see people I want to talk to…and I don’t. I don’t know how to walk into a conversation already in progress and contribute. I wish I did, but I don’t.
When I blog, I’m more of what I’d like to consider as “the real me.” It makes me think of Christian Slater’s character in Pump Up the Volume (if you haven’t seen it, you should). When I’m wearing my “work” or my “writing” hat, I can speak my mind the way I think…but for some reason, when I’m with people socially, I just don’t know how to be that.
So you can imagine what a challenge in shyness Vida Vegan Con was! I came to VVC by myself…to a conference with a couple hundred people…many I’ve admired for years…replete with social events…not knowing anyone! I know I wasn’t the only one in that situation, but I will admit…it freaked me out. No buddy system here for me!
I checked into my hotel (I didn’t stay on campus…though now I wish I had), and got ready for the Cupcake and Champagne reception (which was brilliant, by the way). I showed up right on time, checked in, picked up my bag, and then went into the reception. I was absolutely amazed at the number of people there (and the fact that it was a good 10 minutes before anyone ate or drank…so they could get their blog shots done!). I listened to the amazing opening address, picked a table where no one was and sat there (too shy to “encroach” on an established table), and after meeting at least one online hero – JL from JL Goes Vegan – decided to leave.
My first non-shy moment of the weekend happened then. As I was leaving, I saw a woman yawn. As I was about to pass her, I joked that she must be an East-Coaster too. She engaged me right away, and I sat to talk to her for nearly an hour. As it happens, she’s also from Virginia, and was there to support her daughter, Christa, who was speaking on a few panels over the weekend. She was absolutely wonderful to talk to, and while I had gone outside of my comfort zone just a little, if I hadn’t, there’s no way I’d have met her or her amazing daughter.
The next morning at breakfast, I bee-lined right to her table…and ended up having a very insightful conversation with everyone at the table about how we all became vegan.
Throughout the day it was more of the same…sessions where I was comfortable asking questions – but not saying Hi to the person sitting next to me (can I tell you how heartbreaking it was NOT saying hi to my longtime heroes like Isa and Colleen?!?!, but also getting to talk to Gena and Kittee??). At the same time, I was meeting people who were like me – passionate, intelligent, articulate…and shy.
During the fundraising dinner, I actually sat at the same table as Susan! I’ve followed her writing the longest, and she’s the reason I’ve set my blog up the way I have with regards to never using anyone’s name but my own. I spent the majority of the night talking to this longtime inspiration of mine, and found out she’s shy too! The more people I met and opened up to about my shyness, the more people I met who were just like me.
So for the first time in my life, I met vegans (I don’t know any in my personal life), learned more than I could ever hope to, and discovered that my shyness isn’t necessarily unique with us bloggers. So while I tried hard to overcome my social timidness, it was also refreshing to know that I’m not the only one afflicted! VVC helped me to reach out more than I normally would, and that was almost as amazing as everything else I experienced throughout the weekend.
I had moments where I went outside of my comfort zone and actually approached people to mention how much I enjoyed reading their blogs or the appreciated the activism work they did. I was always shocked when someone read my nametag and initiated a chat with me.
So how to summarize my weekend? Great food, absolutely. Brilliant rock stars in the vegan world? Most definitely! An opportunity of a lifetime to learn from others and be there at the start of something amazing? You bet! And a chance to start being less shy around people who are a lot like me, absolutely! Bring on the next VVC…I promise, I’ll say hi to everyone!
About the Author: I write about my crazy world, awesome food, and athletic attempts at Run Crissie Run and Twitter at (you guessed it) @runcrissierun. If you’re bored, hop on the rollercoaster with me!
Despite being shy sometimes, I’m quite silly and goofy and passionate. I am interested in WAY too many things, and write about my desire to do them all. I have a husband, three kids, a cat, a dog, and a turtle; juggle a demanding (and amazing) career, read blogs obsessively, and overall fully and completely love my life.