I mentioned in one of last week's posts that I submitted two pieces for BlogHer's Voices of the Year and explained why. I submitted them knowing full well that I had no plans of attending the conference this year (or desire to); as I explained in that post, I was submitting them just because I felt like taking a leap forward and opening myself up to opportunity, really. On the same day I submitted those pieces, I found a surprise greeting me in my inbox at the end of the day-an unexpected opportunity. It was an email from Shannon (@mrlady), BlogHer's conference programming manager, and I couldn't peel my eyes off of the subject line:
When I was finally able to read the rest of the email, I put the phone down and immediately started pacing back and forth in my living room, my mind flooded with thoughts....
I'm small potatoes...how'd I get on the radar for something like this? What about [insert name here] or [insert name here]? THEY should be the ones doing this....
How will I get there?
I'm not a speaker....
What will I say?
I'm not worthy of this...there are SO many others who I know deserve this and are better advocates and have bigger platforms than me.
What will Bertski say?
Of course when I called him, he left no room for doubt-I was going to accept the invite and we would use this opportunity to take the boys on a family vacation. He's so damn supportive, especially when he knows I'll talk myself out of something great like this.
I hung up, emailed Shannon back, and yesterday I officially accepted my speaker's invitation to BlogHer's HealthMinder Day. I'm being afforded the chance to do what I do here on the blog-talk about mental health and what it's like to share my experiences with it with all of you-the rewarding, the hard, the reasons why I continue to do it, etc.
I'm excited. I'm humbled. I'm honored. I'm scared shitless. I've never spoken to a room full of strangers on this level, EVER. I don't feel worthy, especially when I consider what amazing writers and bloggers my co-panelists are, AND when I think of the other amazing writers and women who blog about mental health and deserve an opportunity to share in a forum such as this.
I don't feel worthy of it, but I know that it's the right opportunity for me to say yes to-does that make sense? It feels authentic to the kind of writer I am, and what this space is...I don't feel worthy of it, but at the same time I realize that playing small when opportunities such as these present themselves to you serves no one, least of all yourself, so I'm choosing to be grateful and enjoy every part of this. Besides, when I asked Kelly (@mochamomma) if she had any advice and told her how nervous I was, she had this to say: "Remember why you write. Speak your truth. Drop the fucking mic." Pretty much the kick in the ass I needed to step into the moment and accept the gig. Yep.
Do I hope to gain anything out of this? Sure-I hope to gain connection-connection with others in a healthy, constructive and empathetic dialogue about sharing our experiences with mental illness and wellness. I want to encourage others to share their mental health related stories and I want to also be encouraged to keep doing the same-Lord knows I've almost nuked this space at least once a week since the new year began.
Also, moral of this story: Always leave a little room for opportunity-you never know what it has waiting for you.
Also, also: Marriage. Baby. Speaking gig. 2013 better stop blowing my mind with all of these surprises.