My sweet friend Sarah did not post this picture after I spoke at the NWA Technology Summit in November. Instead, she came up to me giggling and asked to take another picture.
“It makes you look really short,” she said. “Like, you-don’t-have-a-torso short.”
I mean, CLEARLY I’m bending over. But, yes. Awkward.
The thing is, that image was the least awkward part of the day. You can tell by the look on my face that I’m happy here with my friend. I feel good, which was not the default of the day.
I beat myself up badly before, during, and after I speak to a group. It doesn’t matter how many people talk to me afterward. It doesn’t matter how many encouraging notes I receive. I literally lost sleep the night after this talk, going over the parts of it where I stumbled, or said something maybe I shouldn’t have.
And don’t get me started on the drama of trying to get dressed for this event. Because it was super Chamber of Commerce, but also super tech. So what– graphic tee, jeans and a blazer? White House Black Market take me away.
Posing like the queen of the munchkin parade was low on the list of things that bothered me that day. My glasses look cute in this shot. Is there anything more important?
This all happened way back a million years ago in November. A few days later I got a reminder that I was not alone in my awkwardness.
That same week two of my heroes were super awkward.
First, Sheryl Sandberg was practically heckled when she encouraged the alpha males at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to lean in to supporting women as peers.
Ouch. Those boys tried to bring her down a peg, that was clear, so much so that their cadet leader scolded them afterward for their poor treatment of their guest. But who can blame them? It’s their job to bring her down a peg, right?
Maybe Sheryl lost sleep, too. And maybe she obsessed over that dress. (Such a great dress.) Or maybe that part is just my issue. Bottom line, Sheryl was not smooth. She was real. And therefore vulnerable.
“Look,” she told CNN. “I could have gone to a million places where they would have loved me. But, I didn’t.” Later she added, “Societal change and cultural change is not always comfortable.”
We’ve got a long way to go, baby.
The same week a friend sent a clip of Madonna’s performance in Stockholm. It was the day after the attacks in Paris. Madge gives a heartfelt monologue about how we need to shine light in the face of all this darkness, to be the light.
Damn, is she awkward. Just absolutely not smooth.
Aren’t we all so lucky that these two amazing women, my teachers, my role models (don’t act like Borderline didn’t change lives) can show us their awkwardness? Because if they in their power and privilege can’t be awkward, how can we feel okay with looking like a circus attraction once in a while? But they can, so I will.
Won’t you join me?
Books Make Great Gifts!
Image: Sarah Hood