How attending WDS 2015 allowed me to rediscover my true self and embrace me for who I am.
For the un-initiated, the World Domination Summit is an annual gathering of artists, writers, creatives, social entrepreneurs and many others who want to use their unique gifts to affect positive change in the world. It takes place in Portland Oregon and is built around the three core values of Community, Service and Adventure, and it is a truly amazing event.
There will be many posts written that highlight all of the amazing speakers, events and connections that were made, but I wanted to share how this amazing event impacted me in my own personal way. I traveled down to Portland by myself, and on my flight down realized that even though I have visited 31 over my life, this trip would be the first time I had ever travelled truly solo. Luckily for me, as I was about to find out, I was not alone.
There was a WDS pre-party going on when I arrived, and it had been going for close to four hours by the time I got to the venue. I walked in to a room full of people, and immediately my social anxiety took over, causing me to beeline it over to the bar where I promptly sat and watched a CFL game between Edmonton and Ottawa for 1.5 beers, because you know, that’s what you do in Portland! The whole time I was sitting there, my inner voice was yelling at me to get up and go talk to some people, I knew everyone there would be friendly, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Thankfully, about halfway through my second beer, I was approached by a friendly stranger who struck up a conversation with me about our travels, and mutual Canadian backgrounds, and my fear began to melt away. After that, for the next few hours anyways, I was able to strike out and bounce from conversation to conversation, meeting close to a dozen awesome and friendly people along the way.
A similar scenario to the one above played out over the many other events, meetups and gatherings that took place over the weekend. I would often be standing off to the side, watching groups of people happily enjoying in conversation, until I either summoned up the nerve to go join in, or saw a friendly face I was comfortable talking to. You see, by putting myself out there and really exposing myself I laid bare what I have been trying so hard to fight and gloss over for my whole life. That ends today.
My name is Kevin, I am an introvert, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Although the weekend was almost wall to wall events, I still had a good amount of time to think and reflect on what I was experiencing and learning about myself. And what I kept coming back to is the fact that I do skew towards the introverted side of the spectrum, but for practically my whole life, I have been trying to overcome that like it was a character flaw and something to eliminate. What I finally realized is that it is actually one of my greatest strengths, and not one to try to beat into submission!
As the weekend progressed and I began to stop fighting my introverted nature and really embrace it, my enjoyment of the various events kept increasing and increasing. I was meeting some amazing people, and regularly bouncing from conversation to conversation, but for me, that constant social interaction can get pretty draining. Instead of forcing myself to keep going, I allowed myself to take some breaks, to go off on my own and reflect, to recharge that energy battery, and not feel bad about it!
I think if I had kept on trying to force myself to be more extroverted, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself nearly as much as I ultimately did. The fact is, I have come a long way from the shy, awkward pimply faced kid who was bullied heavily in school and petrified of talking to any girls I was remotely attracted to. I have grown into a successful and confident man who has achieved quite a few great things so far in my life.
Life is a journey for us all, there is no “perfect” stage of development, and I think I have finally accepted that, and to just enjoy the journey! Don’t get me wrong, I will still be striving to develop and challenge myself, but I know that being an introvert will always be part of who I am, and that is a-ok!
I arrived at WDS trying to find my passion, and I left with a calling.
That calling is to use my lifetime of experiences, learnings and growth as an introvert to help other introverts embrace their true selves and allow their lights and gifts to shine out into the world. I don’t know what it’s going to be called, and I’m still working on flushing out the vision, but I know it is going to help thousands of people over the coming years, in fact my stretch goal is to positively influence the lives of one million people by the year 2020!
I believe I can use my voice and life experiences to help others uncover their true potential and make an impact in the world. Also, in a society that seems hell bent on meeting the perfect image, I want to help people learn to accept, embrace and celebrate their true selves. We are all unique, and we are all awesome! If you consider yourself an introvert and would like to share some of your story, struggles or successes with me, please reach out, I would love to hear from you and hear any ideas you might have to help me pursue this calling and help others.
Of the three core WDS values, I think the one that had the greatest impact on me over the weekend was the power of community. There were over 2,000 attendees at the conference, and every single one of the over 50 that I met was a friendly, positive and open minded person. It was amazing to have that many people together in the same place, and the energy it created was something to behold.
Some of you may say that sounds a little “woo-woo”, but I think in this internet age where more and more people are choosing to connect via smartphones or the internet, our world is sorely lacking in human connection and community. The internet is great, and technology a very powerful tool, but nothing can compare to the power of a roomful of inspired people working together to make the world a better place.
There is a lot of anger and hatred in the world these days, but for one weekend all I experienced was positivity, love and human connection. It was an amazing thing, and something that I personally want to help to create more of in my hometown. At the end of the day, all we have is each other, we might as well learn to put our small differences aside and do more to work together. I do believe that together, we can change the world! That is the power of community. That is the power of WDS.
No WDS post would be complete without a few of my favorite moments (and some pictures), so here are a few:
- Being a part of FIVE world record setting events!
- Most people having breakfast in bed
- Longest high five chain
- Most people putting on lipstick at the same time
- Most people blowing out a birthday candle at the same time
- Most people eating a cupcake at the same time
- Hearing an 11 year old Kid President give such simple answers to such big questions, and thinking, why can’t we all be a little more like him?
- Hugging it out with a two sport all American athlete who is doing his part to break down the myths of masculinity.
- Meeting up in person with some of the amazing members of the Live Your Legend Local Community, who up until this point I had only been able to interact with online.
- Teaching a new friend from Australia, who has a goal of creating millions of positive ripples in the world, how to do the Octopus under a sky of bouncing colorful balloons at the WDS closing party.
- Having a deep hour long conversation with a woman 12 days older than me who I had known for five minutes about how being introverted has impacted our lives and how we plan to help others.
- Sharing a drink and a conversation with a few new friends from around the world while cruising under the bridges of Portland about the flaws in our various political systems and how we have all the answers.
- Watching Darth Vader ride a unicycle while playing the bagpipes and playing the Star Wars theme!
- Making plans with a Kiwi guy to travel to Kentucky in the summer of 2017 to take in the total solar eclipse.
WDS 2015 truly was a life changing event for me, and I can’t wait to go back next year, I already have my ticket!