I’ve never been to a “Singles Only” event, but I can only assume that it’s exactly like a Networking Event with a lot more exposed skin.
Yes, I went to a Networking Event today. Awkward, forced interactions with nervous college students in oversized blazers from Ann Taylor and Men’s Warehouse?
Sign me up.
I was doing pretty well for myself at the beginning- mimicking body language, syntax, and keeping my finicky hand busy with a cup of water. My naturally introverted self was on the very edge of my comfort zone.
“dangling one foot over the edge of the ominous abyss of discomfort” ..edge of my comfort zone.
Until I jumped into the abyss with total reckless abandon in a really un-Romantic kind of way.
The discussion panel was made up of three alumni who were already grabbing life by the sparkling reins and steering their golden chariots to the holy land of “Success.” Inspirational words effortlessly flowed from their mouths- with caveats of witty banter falling out occasionally. They told us legends of their epic journeys to the Elysium of Success, achieved by incredible internships during their college careers that were fun, in the industry, and *gasp*..PAID.
One panelist in particular stood out to me. She was tall, witty, articulate, and a total Girlboss – essentially everything I aspire to be. (Yeah, yeah, I’m working on the “tall” thing). She handled every question with integrity and resolve- establishing her place in the room and onto my list of female role models.
I’ve been living in New York City for nearly one week now, and I am already chomping at the bit to establish myself on this island. Back home, every time I would tell someone that I was moving to this monstrous unforgiving metropolis, I would receive one of two responses; “It’s cold up there!” or, “Do you know anyone there?”
Uh… “yes” and “I have family on Long Island.”
My second response would usually elicit a sigh of relief because New York is scary and I am small.
I’ll be fine. I promise.
Anyway. Back to the point.
Something every successful woman- no, human - will tell you is to find a suitable mentor. Suitable is the key word here: someone who fits your idea of success. Someone older than you. Someone who possesses qualities you want to see in yourself. Someone astronomically smarter than you.
I was lucky enough to have a few incredible mentors back home – professors, teachers, managers, pastors, and of course, my mother.
But I need one here.
So today, I set my sights on this super-human Girlboss.
We had a common connection: opera.
Or rather - studying opera, realizing wearing Viking helmets and breaking the sound barrier for less than $30k a year wasn’t the ideal occupation- “so I’m going to study Business instead.”
Boom. Common. Connection.
I had discovered my segue. I was going to introduce myself, mention my relationship with opera, draw similarities, laugh, hope for my mouth to say coherent, smart things, and glide away with a business card in my hand and a meeting in my planner.
Foolproof plan, right?
I introduced myself and immediately went from my reliably “chill” self to my “psychoticEXTREMEtypeAhighpitchedspeakingwordstuttering”didIbreathe?ineedtobreatheooooooohmy”operahahhahaopera”WHATamiSAYING” self.
At the end of my introductory spiel, I waited for someone to walk in with a MAGA hat and crocs so I wouldn’t be the most embarrassed person in the room.
..which unfortunately didn’t happen, which left me to accept my fate as a Buffoon™.
To my utter shock, my word vomit was combatted with grace, clarification, and a chance to redeem myself. She disregarded my awkward comments and made an effort to understand who I was behind the pretense. I walked out of that interaction with a business card and a little over half of my dignity.
One day I will reach the level of self-representation that is the optimum blend of confidence, humility, authority and grace. One day I will be the mentor. One day I’ll give a TED Talk on the qualities of a pioneer in the music industry.
But for now, I’ll fake it till I make it.