Welp. I survived Alt Summit.
Don’t get me wrong — it was pretty awesome. Loads of nice, fun, creative people. Colorful decor. Parties. Loads and loads of parties.
Obviously, I’m a little exhausted. But my Instagram feed has never looked more exciting, so I can’t complain too much.
And besides a pretty cool new group of friends and a handful of photo booth strips, I also walked away with a couple of lessons that I’m going to start incorporating into my real life.
Y’all ready for this?
1. “Having guts always works out for me.”
New York-based designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister was one of the (and quite possibly my favorite) keynote speakers at Alt. Besides a host of other inspiring projects, he’s working on a film based on one of his personal maxims, “Having guts always works out for me.” (Click here for a clip and then just TRY to tell me you don’t want to see this.) The gist is that by living a braver life, one will experience greater happiness.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my phobia of embarrassment, so this talk and concept really resonated with me. I can speak first-handedly about the fact that when I put aside my fears and just do the thing I’m really agonizing over, I experience greater joy than when I let the fear win.
Stefan actually showed us a little cartoon that explained how our brains (specifically, the amygdala) are hard-wired to allow fear to register in our bodies (through adrenaline and such) faster than any other emotion, the idea being that it will help keep us alive. You know, instead of just preventing us from speaking up during that department meeting or telling our crush how we feel about them.
It was really reassuring watching that little cartoon. I’m not a scaredy-cat freak. I’m just human.
But the fact remains that sometimes I let my fear impede my happiness. So the first lesson I learned at Alt Summit is that I need to buck up. Embrace the fear and know that by ignoring it, I’ll ultimately achieve greater happiness. I’m going to work on this.
2. I don’t really want to be a famous blogger anymore.
Yup, I’ve decided. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly which presentation it was that I realized this is something I’ve got to do, but by the end of the week, the idea had solidified in my brain. (I think it really stuck during a presentation from Tiffany Brown, Content Strategist at Pinterest.)
Here’s the thing: For most of my adult life, I wanted to be a journalist. But for literally my entire life, as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. That was my thing. It is, arguably, the thing I am best at in the entire world.
You know, I was just going to add a joke to make that statement sound less “blah blah look at me blah blah”, but I don’t really want to apologize for feeling that I’m good at something. So…deal with it.
The point is, being in a room full of people who wanted to turn their blogs into their livelihood, I realized that I don’t. Sure, when I wasn’t fulfilled by my work, I thought maybe making money off my blog would bring me happiness.
But looking at it as the reality it is for (a few) professional bloggers, I realized that I just don’t have any interest in that anymore.
What I do really want to do? I want to write fiction. I want to write a novel. Preferably several, but I’m starting with the one. And I figure the more I put that idea out into the universe, the more likely it is that it will actually happen.
Phew. It’s kind of scary putting big dreams out into the universe, right? But I’m facing my fears and all, so I guess it’s a logical next step.
3. Someday I should probably retire to a small, beautiful town in the middle of nowhere.
After strolling through Salt Lake City and Park City for a while, I can definitely say I harbor a few secret fantasies of living the simple life. While I think, to a degree, I like a certain amount of stress in my life, it is pretty tempting at times to give it all up and settle in a quiet suburb.
Plus, everyone is so nice. And the rent would be so much cheaper.
Not any time soon. But, you know, someday.
So…yeah. I sort of think I didn’t learn any of the right lessons Alt was supposed to teach me. (Except maybe the first one.) But life’s about making your own way, right?
Besides everything I wrote above, I am pleased to report that I met a lot of really cool people, including a handful of gals I can honestly say I think I’ll stay friends with. And if that’s the only thing I can say for sure, I think I’m okay with that.