Good morning folks!
Tonight is the August meeting of BarCamp’s After Hours.
I started attending these on 1 March of this year. I had been having a hard time prior to that just getting out of the house. I found this meetup and signed up for it.
When the day came around for me to attend, I didn’t want to go. I wanted to go home and comfort my increasing agoraphobia. But a voice in my head insisted that I go. I actually argued with myself (not in the crazy way!) for a bit but finally the voice won out and I went.
I walked into the bar and went to the back where I saw a lot of folks standing around talking. For those of you that have known me for a decade or more – and therefore are not here in Sarasota – I had developed a shyness in public as well. I now knew what the definition of ‘wallflower’ was.
I had brought my Kindle Fire with me so that I had something to do because I fully expected to be ignored as I had been at the other meetups I’d gone to. That isn’t an accusation. I realize it is my job to walk up to people and introduce myself… easier said than done I promise you.
However I was in for a big surprise. This woman with bright eyes, a big smile and a welcoming voice turned to me and introduced herself. She asked me who I was, what I did. Had an actual conversation with me. Introduced me to people. This person was Sara Hand.
I had yet to experience this kind of welcoming from a group thus far in my time in Sarasota. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met loads of friendly people. Every single friend I have in Sarasota I’ve met through Meetup. Some very wonderful people.
Regardless, this caused a paradigm shift in me. I remembered how easy it was to just walk up to people and start talking to them. I remembered just how much I loved being around people.
I went from agoraphobe to social butterfly. Started going to more and more meetups. Heck, even organized a summer of movie meetups. And I wasn’t afraid to go alone.
I had been working for months to turn my life around and I’d come far – but I believe this was an essential piece I needed. I won’t say final piece because this is something I will work on every day so I don’t take it for granted.
I’m so grateful for the warm welcome BarCamp has given me that I am now doing whatever I can to spread this wonderful group to as many people possible. What does BarCamp do? You know, that’s a good question! I like to think that it brings techies together with non-techies for successful business planning through partnerships and education.
In addition to the After Hours (first Thursday of each month) there is also a lunch and learn the third Friday where people come and talk about how you can improve not only your business, but your life.
Then twice a year there are unConferences. What in the world is that? Well they are conferences that have no set schedule – other than start and end times – where people come and sign up to talk about their passions. And I don’t mean just technical or business passions. I mean ANYTHING they are passionate about. We even had a young man talk to us about anime this past spring! How cool is that?
So here’s my point and yes, it’s the plug because I really do love this group – if you are in Sarasota and it interests you to come out and meet some engaging folks, come to one of BarCamp’s events 🙂