I don’t think you ever really get over your fear of firsts. I don’t mean the major firsts, like sex or leaving home or maybe even marriage. I mean the small, every day firsts. That first day of classes, the first time crossing the border by yourself or, in my case, your first metadata conference.
Because this is my second in 3 days and, honestly, I’m still a little terrified. Not in any distinctive way, like a phobia of spiders or clowns (I really do hate clowns!) but in discreet, internal ways that only come from being thrust (even willingly) out of one’s comfort zone.
Even though my first one was beyond successful, I am still scared to arrive today. Scared that I’ll be judged for being new, not welcome among well-seasoned peers. But that’s what’s so fascinating about fear. 9 times out of 10, it’s purely irrational. I have never been in such a welcoming or inclusive community as librarians and information professionals. But still, there is fear. Fear and nerves and embarrassment.
Thankfully, I expect it now. That’s one of the joys of firsts. That when you get to seconds and thirds, you slowly learn how to handle it. Maybe you don’t stop ever being afraid. Maybe it only stops when one day you realise you’ve grown comfortable in this environment. It’s happened to me before. Fear of starting new classes, new jobs. But suddenly, after an indescribable amount of time, I’m comfortable. I’m more present.
However, that won’t be today. Today, I’ll have my morning cup of soothing Earl Grey and follow in the footsteps of the late Carrie Fisher.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway.”