Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Introvert at a Women's Conference

I think I mentioned in my last post about moving on from homeschooling.  I have decided to join Moms Rising, an organization that looks at issues surrounding families, which does hit home for me, coming from a mom/homeschooling arena.

I attended the Bennett V conference for women leaders and activists this past Saturday, hosted by NC Women Matter.  An all day event held in Greensboro.  I was, as I expected, a little nervous as I knew NO ONE at the conference.  I had chatted with Beth Messersmith, from NC Moms Rising, on the phone for maybe 5 minutes and I did join the NC Moms Rising facebook group, prior to the conference but that is about it.  And if you know me, you know I don't open up easily to strangers, it is just not comfortable.  So this was a challenging day, and I thought I would share just a bit about it with you.

I arrived at the conference site and there are no signs for parking or registration or anything, so I drove around a little bit looking for open parking, soooo did not want to get towed in Greensboro, 1 hour 45 minute drive from home.  Found one and walked around the building to find the entrance.  OK so everything was so far so good.  Entered a room full of round tables that seat like 8 people each.  I mentioned I knew no one right.  I saw a table near the door (easy escape if I need it), with 3 women sitting at it.  OK "are these seats free"?  "well, we aren't sure, people are still coming in to sit down....(blah, blah, blah I tuned out at this point)".  OK so not really a warm welcome.  I moved around a bit and saw another table with a couple of open seats and this time didn't even ask, I just sat down.  And no one said anything so I guess it was OK. Which is good as this is the only other table near the exit.

Everyone was talking and looking at the agenda, getting ready to take notes etc.  And I heard them chatting. ALL OF THEM ARE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS.  Yes, the homeschooling (unschooling) mom just sat down at a table of public school teachers, too funny.  OK they do take public education VERY seriously, as they should.  I want to say that I have nothing against public school teachers, but having had interactions with different ones in the past, they have not been fond of homeschooers (yeah, that's a nice way to put it).

Moved onto break out sessions with some great topics. I attended the first one about social media, and the speaker was Jen Jones from Democracy NC.  She was awesome.  I mean it, you all need to click on the Democracy NC link and join.  If you have the opportunity to hear her speak on ANYTHING, take it, she is a very engaging speaker.  I loved that session.  OK so session number two.  I had one in mind I wanted to attend, but (and for me this is a big BUT) the first line of the description says "An interactive work session..." OK the word interactive turns me off immediately.  I HATE being forced to interact with people I don't know.  So I skipped that session.

Second on the list is another interesting session, got all settled and as comfortable as I could be with a bunch of strangers and the first thing the speaker has us do is go around the room and introduce ourselves and answer the question "do you think you are a story teller".  Darn it all, didn't he know that I hate being forced to interact, just not what an introvert wants to do.  And if I do interact it is so much more comfortable in an informal setting without feeling like I am being interrogated.....(answer this question and you will pass go).  I made it through and lived to talk about it.

OK so at the end of the day we headed back into the main session hall, for a "thank you" and wrap up. Sitting back down with the public school teachers.  The speaker asked us to fill out these forms etc, and one form had, as the very first line, to go to their web site and fill out an online form there.  So I thought to myself, or I should say I imagined I thought to myself but in fact I actually said it out loud, "why do I need to fill out the form, why not just go to the web site and do it, why both".  And one of the teachers says "because she said so".  OK so I really did laugh out loud at that one.  I am sure she didn't see the humor as she didn't know I am an unschooling mom. But I know you all will see the humor.  I filled out the form anyway, wouldn't want to anger a table full of school teachers.

I did have a brief chance to meet Beth Messersmith, toward the end of the conference, and did get my face in a photo with the group NC Moms Rising, although only Beth knew who I was. I then bolted for the door with a headache and a 1 hour 45 minute return drive ahead of me.

The conference in general was amazing, and I loved seeing that many strong, passionate, progressive women of all ages, races, religions, in one place together, sharing ideas and moving forward.  POWERFUL! And I learned that I really want to deal with my nervous issues in a more positive way.  I need to work on that in the future.


wovenstones said...

So proud of you, you were really brave! And yes, Jen Jones is wonderful. I think she was with Equality NC during the Amendment One fight. Glad she is still here!

Pam Genant said...

Thanks Kate!