The Importance of Showing Up
I’m a little bit of an introvert. I’m very self-conscious and I get anxious in situations where I feel like I’m not entirely prepared and in control. I am the reason email and Facebook have become the new norms as ways to communicate. And obviously I’m not alone. I know plenty of people like me who cringe at the thought of having to talk to someone on the phone or attend a cocktail party where they don’t know many people. I think it stems from my idea of having to be perfect and someone else thinking that I might not be as smart or capable or any other flattering adjective as them. Recently, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany:
I’M NOT. I’m not as smart, as capable, as knowledgeable, as attractive, as talented, etc. as every person in a room I walk into most of the time. BUT, the epiphany is that that is really ok and neither is anyone else, I’m my own worst critic and most importantly, that my concern about all those things is making me even less so on every account. Because of my unwarranted concern, I avoid situations where I could have an enlightening conversation with someone where I might gain some knowledge I didn’t have before. I miss out on opportunities to network and make connections with people who may have strengths I don’t have and vice versa where we could work together and do amazing things for one another.
There is no substitute for personal human interaction. Emotions and sentiments do not come across in emails or Facebook and Instagram posts no matter how many emojis you use. An emoji is not an emotion. There’s a reason they are spelled differently (and for the record, I had to look up how to spell emoji). Passion for the work you do or the things you love does not come across electronically. These things are only shared and received when two or more humans get up off their couches or step away from their screens and share a conversation or a meal or a brainstorming session.
So, now you’re 4 paragraphs into my rambling and thinking, “That’s great, Jennifer. I’m so glad you have gained some self-awareness, but I’m getting a little bored with this and don’t know why I’m reading it.” Hang with me, I have a point here and I will relate it back (another fault I have…I can be a little verbose in my prose). My point is, I am finally learning THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOWING UP. I attended a dinner party last week that I was really dreading. I knew there would be a number of people I didn’t know and who were more accomplished than me and it was giving me incredible anxiety, but I made myself go anyway. It turned out I had an amazing time, made some invaluable connections for the organization, gained some very important intel on something I’d been working on and had a great meal as a bonus. I couldn’t have done any part of that from my computer. The next time something like this pops up and I start to think of excuses why I can’t go, I hope I’ll remember that it was so important that I SHOWED UP.
As a songwriter, regardless of where you live, I think this is as important a realization for you if not more. Every week, I hear NSAI members say a derivative of: “I don’t know how I would ever meet a cowriter, I don’t live in Nashville”; “I don’t know how to get more social media followers and get my music out to more people”; “I just want someone to hear my song.” Well, the answer to all those questions is SHOW UP. We live in a digital age and it is easy to think you can avoid all the insecurities that putting yourself out there bring while also “reaching the masses” by staying at home and sitting behind a computer screen. The repeated answer to these questions and so many like them is that you have to SHOW UP and put yourself out there. Need a co-writer? I bet there’s an NSAI Chapter meeting somewhere near you where several other people are looking for co-writers. Need to create a following or want someone to hear your song? I bet there’s an open mic within driving distance of your home. Additional food for thought…how are you going to write songs that touch people’s hearts unless you’re regularly interacting with people on a personal level? You have to SHOW UP, and I think once you do, you’ll realize that the payoff is well worth the cost on many levels.
So, if you’re like me and you cringe at the types of situations I described, I challenge you right now to look up your local NSAI Chapter and find out when and where they meet, put it on your calendar and make an effort to be there. Chances are you won’t click with everybody in attendance, but if you make just one great connection who becomes a friend and a co-writer, it will be well worth it.
This blog post was contributed by Jennifer Turnbow, Senior Director of Operations.