How To FAIL At The World Domination Summit
This isn’t really a how-to. It is rather failure-y, though.
I decided that this year MUST be my year and marked the dates on my 2015 calendar in faith that it would miraculously be so.
On May 9th I received an email from none other than the amazing Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend declaring that I had won his blog challenge and was receiving a ticket to WDS.
I am like Jesus.
Except completely not.
Now you are probably asking, what is the World Domination Summit?
And I shall tell you that it is a conference seeking to answer this question:
“How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”
I suggest you Google it.
In preparation for my ascent into domination, I Googled the guts out of it and this is what the internet gifted me:
I formed a wildly grand expectation of the World Domination Summit that looked something like this:
I was PUMPED. I was going to make the most of this experience and learn everything I EVER needed to know and network the SHIZZLE out of it and be charismatic and memorable and charming as heck and make everyone love me and my cow pajamas with all of their little world dominating hearts.
That was the PLAN.
Unfortunately, plans don’t always come to pass. And by the end of WDS I was frazzled, undone, and secretly very ashamed of being the ONLY attendee in the history of the conference to feel… lost.
Nothing particularly dramatic happened, nothing worthy of compassion or pity, just little things that, how would one phrase this, COMPLETELY UNRAVELED ME.
Here are some highlights:
1) SO. DAMNED. TIRED.
By the time I was awarded my golden ticket, all of Portland had been booked solid. So when an opportunity to share a room with 3 other ladies AROUND THE CORNER from the conference base popped up I leapt at it.
Amazing, right? Convenience, a hair dryer in the room, AND new BFFs. Good move, Angela, good move.
And it was, indeed, very convenient. However, I had forgotten the minor fact that I am a high anxiety, light-sleeping human being who has not stayed in a room with strangers well… ever.
And, apparently, when I am in a room with a bunch of strangers (even if they are fantastic humans, which they were) I spend literally every second trying to NOT offend anyone and the Social Anxiety Serpent shows up with his usual host of excellent input:
But at least.
At least I had a place walking distance from everything to rest my weary head so I could soar through this conference vibrant and peppy, right?
My anxiety, coupled with the fact that I was in bed with a stranger, resulted in what I like to call “Infuriating Insomnia of Satan” during which the minutes and hours would tick quietly by while I became increasingly panicked by the fact that I was not yet asleep.
My first evening I slept for exactly 0 hours and 0 minutes.
Over the next four nights I slept roughly 9 hours.
I was… tired. I rose in the morning and attempted to smooth makeup over the “deathly pallor of fatigue and despair”. I then dragged myself about, keenly aware that my tiredness was affecting my already stunted social skills, all the while listening to a looped recording of Shawn Stevenson’s voice in my head assuring me that my lack of sleep would destroy all of my health, hopes, and aspirations forever and ever.
This was not the foundation for a mind-blowing conference experience.
2) MINGLING AND MORE MINGLING
WDS is known for its attendee led meet-ups where a person is supposed to effortlessly become best friends for life with at least half of the attendees.
Unless that person is me.
I held the mistaken notion that the meet-ups I signed up for were going to be structured affairs with agendas and activities that would make forging phenomenal relationships unavoidable.
They were not.
They were just large, gaping spaces filled with strangers talking to each other. There were no forced activities, no “now move on to someone you haven’t talked to, kids!”, no standing in concentric circles and migrating two people to the right every five minutes.
And I was supposed to engage in conversation.
This threw me into emergency mode:
Suffice to say I found meet-ups EXHAUSTING. And it is highly possible that this is because I was functioning on no sleep, but also because it requires a lot of effort to act extroverted when one is, in fact, introverted.
Even when I did manage to struggle my way through a decent conversation I would spend the whole time waiting for the inevitable moment when the other person would want to move on to bigger and better things. Sometimes I even jumped the gun to avoid the rejection and was all “Oh yeah! Well, I super have to go talk to this person over here!” and I would move away with phony purpose and hope no one noticed me lingering awkwardly by the hummus and pita platter.
Amusingly enough, just this past Spring I actually said these words to my sister-in-law:
“I’ve always thought I was introverted, but now I think I may actually be somewhat of an extrovert!”
WDS helped me discover that I am absolutely NOT an extrovert.
3) HORRIBLY INCONVENIENT TIME OF THE MONTH (Men, just skip this part)
This section doesn’t need cartoons.
Just know that when I arrived in Portland I was in full-blown PMS mode and during the opening party I graduated into full-blown vampire buffet mode then stayed that way for the rest of my trip.
This did nothing for my mental stability.
Hormones are cruel and heartless things.
4) ACADEMIES AND MAIN STAGE
The academies were life-changing and I learned a lot. The main stage sessions were mind-blowing and I cried a lot. Perhaps had I not been sleep deprived AND on my period I would have cried less but everyone else was crying too so… yes.
BUT, the academies and main stage talks were bookended with MORE mingling with strangers.
I would leave the sessions feeling on fire and empowered and badass, then exit the academy or theatre doors and be met with my greatest social nemesis:
While many normal, socially adjusted folk view pods like this:
And magical extroverts view pods like this:
I view pods like this:
Now, armed with hindsight and sleep, I realize I probably could have just walked up to any pod and joined in, but at the time it was out of the question.
I procured a green smoothie instead.
It was delicious.
5) HUNGER IN THE LAND OF FOOD
I barely ate anything. I would occasionally have the aforementioned smoothie and possibly eat half of one normal meal in a day but that’s about it.
Why, when I was in foodie heaven would I not eat anything?
I was absolutely TERRIFIED of having to poop at an inopportune moment. So instead of running the risk of having to get up from the front row of the theatre during a tear-jerking main stage session and walk alllllll the way up the aisle to get to the bathroom then have to walk alllll the way back down the aisle to return to my seat, I just didn’t eat.
“THAT’S CRAZY!” you might be saying. And yes, perhaps it is. But someday soon I will write a delightful post about my jerk-face bowels and you will understand.
LET’S REVIEW, SHALL WE?
Throughout the weekend I was often asked “So how do you like the conference?”, and I would always reply with “It’s awesome! And amazing! Oh God, SO GOOD!” and they would enthusiastically nod in agreement and give a little spiel about how WDS is their most favorite things in the whole universe.
But after every encounter I had the sinking feeling that I was the only human being not thriving at WDS.
Then, as I looked around at the crowd of jubilant faces, I’d think “What the hell is wrong with me?!! I am the ONLY ONE not having a blast and therefore I must be broken. Or crappy. Or too weird to ever fit in anywhere, ever and I ought to just slink quietly into the grey of the river.”
Onwards to the final day during which I realized I had lost my beloved Lululemon scarf and would never be able to get it back.
Heart-breaking catastrophe of magnificent proportions.
Not really a big deal (or any size of deal) unless you are a delirious, nervous wreck. If you are then it is a VERY, UNREASONABLY, TRAGICALLY, ASININELY BIG DEAL.
THUSLY AND THEREFORE
So this epically long post is just to tell us that your experience at the World Domination Summit sucked?
Well. That’s the thing. The shocking and remarkable thing.
I thought I was a conferencing loser. I thought I was doomed to go down in history as the only person to ever fail at WDS, the conference where EVERYONE WINS.
Miraculously, by the closing party I could not deny that I had made some friends. Lasting friends. And to those of you who managed to, despite my neuroticism, establish an actual relationship with me where the real Angela was able to creep out and feel the sunlight on her face, you are amazing and wonderful and precious and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Even more astonishingly, being exhausted, bleeding, hungry, and anxious for five straight days while getting pummeled by truth bombs blasted me so far out of my comfort zone that I… changed. I changed in profound ways that I am still discovering two weeks later.
– My priorities have become shockingly clear.
– I am bolder.
– I cry more. This particularly disturbs my Asian-ness.
– I love more.
– My dreams are bigger and closer than they have ever been.
– And I know that I am not alone, that there are countless people striving to live an unconventionally amazing life, and they are vulnerable, brave, and beautiful.
– I am also surprisingly less concerned about making people like me, which is totally badass.
Don’t like me? Don’t care.
Well, I care a little bit.
But a horking lot less than I used to and it is decreasing with each passing day.
Now I can stride purposefully forward with main stage mantras filling my ears:
Incidentally, I now know that if I have to, I can sleep very little and eat very little (according to cushy, first world standards) and still live to tell the tale.
I am slightly less of a princess than I used to be, and that is a good thing.
Also, Chris announced that the conference will be scaled down to only 1000 attendees next year—almost 2,000 less than this year. He spoke of the quiet folks on the periphery, the introverts, the people who got lost in the crowd, and I knew that in all of the craziness somehow he and his team SAW me. Saw… US?
And I will be, through hell or high water, securing seats for 2016. I have inked WDS in big, bold letters on my calendar in faith that it will miraculously be so. And I want you to all go with me as long as you buy your tickets after I buy mine.
It’s not personal, it’s business.
Thank you to Chris and Jolie for giving so much even when your hearts were breaking. Thank you to all of the WDS staff and ambassadors that made the event come together as though it were by magic and not countless hours of sweat and toil. Thank you to Scott Dinsmore for your incredible generosity. And thank you to all of the stunning people that I met.
Thank you for making this one of the most life-changing experiences I have had in my 33 years of being alive.
During a main stage session Vani Hari put up this quote:
“No mud, no lotus”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
I may have been the the sole attendee slogging through self-inflicted introvert anxiety mud during WDS, but now I’ll be damned if I’m not left with a pond chock full of lotuses.