Saturday, 20 February 2016
Things I learnt from being in a room full of somebodies
I hesitated before I clicked the button.
Even if the weeks leading up to the event, I wasn't sure I'd actually be there. It was a daunting thought: heading solo to the UK office of one the biggest social media platforms in the world, to potentially loiter awkwardly amidst a dazzling crowd of incredible, intelligent women who seemed they had it made: women with eagerly anticipated book publication dates, successful businesses, shit hot quirky-shirt-and-skirt combos, notebooks embossed with their initials. Women with passion. With purpose. Women, who perhaps, I thought, I might not be good enough for.
Still, I'd made a promise to myself in the incurably optimistic early hours of 2016, and that was to spend more time living outside of my comfort zone. To do more of the things that weave knots of giddy apprehension in my stomach. And so I did it. I hopped on a train from the somnolent seaside to the city that never sleeps, and after instantly befriending two lovely girls in the Twitter lobby, those knots of giddy apprehension began to unwind.
After darkness had caressed the spirited streets outside, an inspiring panel of women shared their tales of permission, expectation, making mistakes, and self-discovery, and reminded us all, to a chorus of triumphant 'WOO!'s, that there was space for all of us in that room. In this world. To be. To dream. To ask. To change. To fuck up. To own up.
We gravitated towards each other like dust particles in a stream of light, and everybody I met was just as interested in my story as I was in theirs. Because it turns out we all bring a unique narrative to the table, and perhaps accepting that releases the glitter cannon of confidence. Sure, some of us had eagerly anticipated book publication dates, successful businesses, shit hot quirky-shirt-and-skirt combos, notebooks embossed with our initials, and some of us (oh, hello!) did not, but for all of our differences, we were all, are, essentially the same.
Nobody brought that home for me more-so than Laura: co-founder of the event, my favourite creator on the planet, and writer of an undoubtedly soul-stirring survive-and-thrive heartbreak memoir due for release in the summer that I simply cannot wait to read. She welcomed me with open arms and an open heart, bright-eyed and beaming, and unexpectedly told me how humbled she felt to be in the room, how much of a 'nobody' she felt in comparison. She. The Laura Jane Williams: the gal with the world at her feet, who turns ink into quiet magic that's about to cast a spell on thousands.
Nobody ever has it made. Every woman there was irreparably flawed, deliciously messy, imperfect, insecure, completely in awe of somebody else in the room. Aspirations ticked off the list had bred more aspirations. A bunch of dreamers: doers, celebrating each other with passion. With purpose. Two fingers to creative hierarchy.
I was just as worthy as being in that room as everybody else. Simply for making the effort to be there. And I'm starting to realise that's all it takes. Showing up. Giving yourself permission to do so. And that yes, the world is full of incredible, talented humans who will blow your minds as their innate charm and soul-fire bursts out of them like sunbeams, but that not a single one of them matters any more than you do. And not a single one of them thinks they do, either. At least, not at this event. Which made it damn fucking special.
A huge thank you and congratulations to both Emma and Laura on their beautiful URL to IRL brainchild. (And the book deals.)