Proud To Be a Non-Conformist

Take a chance.

Months ago I signed up for a conference in Portland, Oregon called the World Domination Summit. This summit was Chris Guillebeau’s creation. For the past two years I’ve been following Chris’ blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. He fascinates me both with his advice on traveling the world and his ability to inspire his readers. Tens of thousands of people follow his blog and his “small army,” as he calls his followers, live all over the world. This army of people is changing the world, one day at a time, in very diverse ways. One thousand small army members have joined forces to learn from one another in Portland this weekend.

On Thursday, I flew from DFW to PDX by myself. I didn’t know anyone on the plane and I don’t know anyone in Portland. I had an idea that I would likely be one of the oldest “army” members, as this summit has much to do with new technologies in the forms of blogging, eBook publication, world travel and living life without conforming and it seems to me that thirty-somethings have the corner on this market. There was a slight hint of fear in me if I stopped long enough to give that negative energy a foothold in my mind, but I tried not to. These little, creeping fears included thinking I’d be “too old”; fear of knowing how to get from the Portland airport to my hostel, fear of feeling inadequate amongst these amazing small army members, fear of fitting in. I love adventure and making friends from all around the world and I really do believe I have something to offer the world in myself, so I didn’t allow these feelings of fear sit for too long in my head in the days leading up to the summit. Every time one of these little, creeping fears started to tickle my imagination and turn my stomach, I’d squash it the way you would an annoying Texas mosquito by reading a blog from an inspirational writer or imagining what exciting paths could be opened to me at this summit if I would only just keep walking in that direction.

From her blog, Shanna Trenholm posted an article for those of us arriving in Portland who had never attended WDS before. Her mindful advice helped soothe my restless soul. As I was reading her list of “pitfalls”, I connected with one in particular:

“You’ll struggle with comparison-itis. You will be sure that everyone else is living a remarkable life, that your life is the only small life in the room. Stop it. Don’t fall into that trap. It isn’t true. Being remarkable is on a continuum and it can be measured in many ways. Make your own measure. Create your own amazing.”

Create your own amazing. Isn’t that wonderful? I wanted to share it with you.

Finding my way to the hostel, I remembered the last time I was in Portland about 25 years ago. At that time I attended the NCECA conference. It makes me smile to remember that even back then, I went to Portland by myself. I’ve never forgotten it and always yearned to go back. So here I am.

This is a very partial listing of a few of the seminars I’ve gone to and persons I’ve listened to:

• World Premiere screening of “I’m Fine, Thanks”

• Indie Publishing with Matthew Gartland

• Finding Freelance Jobs Online with Andrea Warner

• What’s Curation? with Jodi Ettenberg

• How to Have the Best Year of Your Life Traveling with Erick Widman

This week why don’t you try something different? Give yourself to the world. You’re awesome and the world needs you. Get involved and don’t ever stop.

Oh, yeah. The first day I arrived I found a super hip, interesting and fascinating group at the summit: The WDS Baby Boomers!!! Why was I worried? 🙂

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16 thoughts on “Proud To Be a Non-Conformist

  1. Bettina says:

    Hey Anita,
    Thanks for the recap!
    You are creating your own amazing already; you had tons of positive energy to spare while we roomed together for WDS!
    Please share your notes from your workshop sessions, even if you just scan them in as images. No need to type them up.

  2. Erick Widman says:

    Hi there Anita! Your blog is very nicely designed — must have something do do with you being an artist! Thanks for coming out to the workshop on volunteering and traveling overseas. We appreciated your helpful input during the session. Good luck with all the exciting things coming your way!

    • Hi, Erick! Thanks for checking it out and thank you for the compliment. 🙂 And thank you also for uploading all those wonderful resources on your website!

      I’ve really been thinking about your presentation. A lot. I’m much older than you, 52 in fact. Based on that, are there any opportunities from your list that might be better than others?

      • Erick Widman says:

        Hi Anita – didn’t you know that 50 is the new 30!? The good news is that all that really matters to these organizations is finding great candidates to serve overseas. And great candidates come in all ages. What is key is you deciding what type of work you want to do, where you want to be, and for how long. As a teacher, you’d have many opportunities to teach nearly anywhere across the globe. I’d start with some of the “aggregator” sites listed on my website like “Go Abroad.”

  3. Jimmie Hudson says:

    I can’t wait to glean from your experience in Portland!

  4. Amy Johnson says:

    I love that you found a group of “olders” that you can hang with> 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more!

  5. Anita!
    I am so happy to find out that my post and tips provided you with some comfort pre-WDS. And do know this: You are already creating your own amazing!

  6. Colleen Ivie says:

    Can’t wait to see you and catch up…still want to meet at SFO tomorrow? Glad you are having a great time!

  7. sally berthel says:

    I love the phrase”Create your own amazing.” Thanks for sharing that one.:)

    • Hey, Sally…. Seriously, I thought I saw you walking down the street today in Portland! Here’s another nugget: the opposite of fear is NOT courage and bravery. . . It is SURRENDER!! Priceless!!!

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