When participating in panels at conferences, often times the moderator asks us to introduce ourselves. My typical response goes like this, “My name is Jeanne Veillette Bowerman, I’m a writer, co-founder of Twitter’s Scriptchat, and the Editor of Script Magazine.”
The next panelist in line offers their professional accomplishments, and so on.
I never thought much of introducing myself before… until this past Friday night at Annapolis Film Festival. Mere hours after I had declared the aforementioned statement about myself at a screenwriting panel, a moderator asked the same question of her panelists. She prefaced her request by clarifying how an introduction isn’t about who we think these people are, but who they feel they are. Who better to explain that than the panelists themselves?
The panelists were taken off guard, but that was the beauty of the moderator’s intention. She wanted an organic, off-the-cuff share.
I clutched the session’s handout, full of bio pictures and detailed descriptions, listing the panelists’ impressive accomplishments, anxious to see what they’d say about their view of themselves.
What was to follow, I never expected.
A panelist stunned us all by simply stating, “I am…” with a long pregnant pause before proceeding, “I show up as I am… see me as I am… as I think I am… as I hope to be.”
I no longer cared what her “accomplishments” were, but instead was moved with how passionate she was about herself. How confident she was. How vitally sure she was of her own potential and ability.
Those two words said so much.
I couldn’t help but wonder, if I had to follow that eloquent introduction one day, how I would introduce myself.
Who am I?
Just like those panelists, I don’t have a pre-planned response. Instead, I’m going to write in a stream of consciousness and focus not on my qualifications, but on my feelings of who… I am.
I am… a mother, a caring, heartfelt woman who pays it forward whenever possible, even if it requires more energy than I have in a given day.
I am… someone who will give the shirt off her back to a friend in need.
I am… generous, to a fault.
I am… always striving to learn, grow and be the best version of myself I can be.
I am… not to be underestimated, despite my kindness.
I am… a lion.
I am… fiercely protective of my children.
I am… fearless.
I am… sometimes afraid.
I am… determined.
I am… unstoppable.
I am… someone who will love with reckless abandon, but if you fuck with me, poke me like a porcupine, and try to hurt me or anyone I love? I am… your worst nightmare.
I am… a loyal friend.
I am… a recovered insecureaholic.
I am… someone who discovered my essence later in life than I should have, but I discovered it nonetheless.
I am… just beginning to find my potential.
How you see yourself affects how people see you. Sure, I am a writer, a Twitter Pimp Angel, and an editor, but I am so much more than my professional labels.
It is the “more” that matters, because without that, I would have no passion behind my words, and no ability to move people with my stories.
Now ask yourself, who are you? Are you projecting to the Universe only the label people think you have or the person you really are inside?
Without thinking or making notes, I want you to walk to the nearest mirror, look into it and introduce yourself to yourself and see the power in your expression as you do. You might just be shocked at who you find behind those labels.
In fact, I might just shock the shit out of the next moderator who asks me to introduce myself to an audience by declaring who “I am.”
If you aren’t going to own the real you – the good, the bad and the ugly – what’s the point of all those lessons life has taught you?
Own them. Own who you are.