I attended elementary and middle school in the same district, but my mom and I moved into a new area for high school. It wasn’t lost on me that this meant that I didn’t know anyone at my new high school and that every single other student would already have spent precious bonding time with everyone else, forming unbreakable BFF statuses. They had all probably been in preschool together, maybe even were born in the same hospital. I bet they all spent weekends together, having sleepovers and making vows to NEVER welcome a new friend into their group. I was convinced that I would be eating lunch with the janitor, and spending my weekends reading Sweet Valley High books, because surely no one would have room for a newbie like myself. I remember walking through the crowded halls, and seeing a couple making out in the hallway. I was fascinated because 1. she had parts that I sooo did not have, and 2. he had a mustache. A MUSTACHE, people. They were like, real live grown ups, and I felt like a baby in my acid washed jeans and no brand name shirt. I’m going to admit something that I am not sure anyone knows- I ate lunch for the first two weeks in the library. I decided who needs friends when you have Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield?
Eventually, I got over myself and realized that not everyone had been friends from the womb, and began to meet other equally insecure people. By the time I graduated, I had a good group of friends and I knew many of the people attending my college, so that transition was easier. It would be nice to be able to laugh at my scared self back then and talk to you about how I don’t struggle with insecurity now, and how that was a season in my life that I am so over because I am totes mature.
But you guys, I’m going to a conference and I am thinking about eating lunch in the library.
Next week, I am going to the Storyline Conference. (http://storylineblog.com/conferences/sandiego2014/) It is a gift from my sweet husband, and I am very excited about having a few days away from the everyday responsibilities of life. Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors, and I am pumped about getting to hear him speak, as well as Jon Acuff and Anne Lamott. But even as excited as I am, I have come up with a hundred reasons why I should cancel. I’ve been trying to understand what is happening in my heart and why I feel like that fourteen year old girl again and here is what it comes down to…
Am I a writer?
I don’t know. Does getting paid make you a writer? Being published? Is it like the difference between being technically able to sing and being a singer? I don’t know, but I DO know that I have convinced myself that I will be walking into a room full of accomplished and insanely talented writers, all of whom know each other already and have private jokes that I won’t get. Is this an absolutely irrational fear- yeah. Has it still made me consider canceling the trip- yes, yes it has.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, I wrote down an internal dialogue I have been having for the last month about what to bring to the conference….
Let’s see, I am going to need a bag for my computer…I wonder if everyone there has a Mac…it’s in California, of COURSE everyone will have a Mac…it’s probably a law…but maybe I will be like the rebel hipster that doesn’t have a mac because everyone has a mac so I have an old school Dell…but I don’t have glasses so that’s not gonna work…ugh, what am I going to wear…heels? Flip flops? Flip flop heels?? I want to look cute, but be comfortable…let’s look at Pinterest…okay, so no one has made a Storyline Conference clothes board…maybe boyfriend jeans, that seems trendy…can I wear boyfriend jeans at 36? Are husband jeans a thing? I could make husband jeans a thing…they’d have grass stains and a note stuck in the pocket that says don’t leave chickfila in the van…hmmm, leggings are comfortable…I have my space cat leggings…be serious Brandy, you can’t wear space cat leggings to a grown up conference…well, maybe I can…do cats in space say take my writing seriously or perhaps I need psychotropic medication? They are artistic cats, maybe they say I am a quirky artsy person who may or may not be kind of geniusy…or maybe they say I am definitely eating lunch by myself in the library…
What a mess. But when I dig, I know it comes down to this- I don’t know what the future holds for me in writing. I have felt stuck these last few months, alternating between feeling like I have nothing to offer and feeling like I am scared to put anything out there. And the ugliness of that is that it’s all about ME. My feelings, my insecurity, my attempts to wrap my worth around acknowledgment…
So, I’m going to The Storyline Conference and I am going to ask Him to remind me that anything I have is about Him. And then I am going to find the person who looks as nervous as I am and ask them to eat lunch with me. The space cat question is still up for debate.
Are YOU going to the Storyline Conference?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77
Follow me on Instagram @brandybutler77
Let’s be Facebook friends! https://www.facebook.com/brandy.novakbutler