Lessons Learned From Attending A Conference Alone

travel solo

Have you ever gone to an event where you didn’t know anyone? Did you think of backing out because you didn’t have someone to go with you?

Leading up to and following my recent conference, these were the initial questions people asked me when they realized I was attending solo.

Each asked: “So, do/did you know anyone at the conference in Vancouver?” My answer was: “No.”

My friends remarked that I was courageous to go somewhere unfamiliar and try something new all by myself. Years ago, I would have shied away from events if I had no one to go with me. I feared what people would think if I came alone.

The process of showing up in a public space used to take a lot of courage; now it comes naturally as group settings really nourish my soul. The comments about my conference attendance served as a beautiful reminder of how much I have grown.

If you look at how I describe myself in the About Me section of this site, you will notice that “shy” isn’t included. But I used to be extremely shy and still am sometimes.

Shyness is a common personality trait whereby people feel anxious when in gatherings with others. I have friends who, when I tell them I used to be really shy, they just laugh at me. They cannot believe that the woman they see standing in front of them is quiet and reserved.

When I entered my teenage years, I became extremely shy. I had a hard time performing in public as I didn’t want to be judged negatively. As a result, I took supportive roles rather than lead ones. I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want the attention.

Have you ever felt like avoiding a social gathering because you didn’t want people to judge you?

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.” – Andre Dubus

More than 90% of the world’s population have been shy during some form of social interaction. My shyness occurs when I am in unfamiliar groups. When I enter a situation for the first time, I have a hard time speaking up until I feel comfortable in that setting.

Being shy does not mean that you are inadequate in any way or that you lack skills or talent. Rather, it only means that you have a hard time sharing what you hold on the inside.

Being shy

In the past, I would have had a really hard time attending social events.

But, as people’s comments to me this past week showed, I am overcoming this issue. I didn’t let my shyness prevent me from attending a conference in another city where I knew no one. I showed up and made wonderful connections.

To overcome shyness in unfamiliar social situations, where I don’t have someone else to lean on, I use strategies for making such situations easier. For example, using such a simple technique helped me get over my initial nerves about being at the conference. During the conference’s first workshop, rather than sit all alone, I broke the ice and talked to the person beside me. After that initial conversation, I wasn’t alone anymore as I had connected with someone. The nerves went away and my experience of the conference went uphill from there.

To carry on the momentum to start the week, I have an uplifting strategy: If you are feeling unsure about showing up at a new event, I encourage you to try hard to GO BE SEEN! Trying is what matters. Try is the important word.

Try not to back out because you have no one to go with. Try going by yourself to an event. Try and ask someone to join you for the first time. Try to be kinder to yourself and others. Try to enjoy the journey; you never know what will happen along the way!

Feel free to share your experiences about shyness or other life lessons you have learned. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

This week, go out on the field and have some fun!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

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