Hired by Amazon, Moving to Seattle, Learning Ruby/Rails, And Other Good Things

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated here!

As you may have noticed, my running is a bit off. Well, it’s like, super off. It’s so off that I’m sleeping with my running gear on so that when I get up tomorrow morning it’s the first thing I do! I’ve only logged 5 runs and 2 bike rides this month…eek. I guess with races off my plate, along with my heightened stress level, it’s taken a forever-backburner.

Despite the lack of training and increase in working, there’s been a number of great things that have been happening in my life — which all have admittedly sidelined me from my usual strict training regimen.

  1. Awhile back I was accepted to Bloc, an 8-week Ruby on Rails intensive. For those of you who are not in the tech world, it’s a web development course. I’m in week three (??) and so far it’s kicking my butt, in a good way of course. I’m so used to things in technology coming easy to me. This feels foreign, strange, weird, and difficult…all of the things that make a great journey (and a hard time)! If you want to read about my day-to-day experiences at Bloc, go for it.
  2. I’ve been picking up a lot of steam with my freelance clients. Had a lot of interesting projects that were interested in my work…some I took on, a lot I had to turn away just based on my unavailability.
  3. My boyfriend finally met my parents!
  4. One of my BFFs graduated nursing school.
  5. My boyfriend’s startup raised their second round of funding! (Hip hip hooray!)
  6. And last, but not least…I got a job offer. I got a job offer when I wasn’t even looking for a job.  It makes me feel like I might actually be doing something right. More on that below!

The gig requires a move to Seattle…a city I’ve visited once (now twice, since I had to fly up for my interview). It’s with Amazon and I get to do what I already do — application UX/UI. The last year or so has been both difficult and amazing at the same time — I’ve never hit so many plateaus and peaks in succession as I did in the last 12 months. (I went from having my own business to working full-time to getting laid off to going to massage therapy school to having only $100 to my name to closing more freelance clients than I could handle to getting offered a full-time job.) I think this relocation will be great to help re-energize me in general. It’ll keep me plugged in to a major powerhouse — a Web 1.0 property! — while challenging me immensely. (That’s an understatement.) I look forward to the adventure and all of the trials and tribulations I will face in a new, strange city.

I am so excited that I’ve already mapped out what I hope my new life will look like:

  • I’ll get back into training regularly. I’ll be moving to Seattle in the summer, which will lend itself nicely to outdoor training. However, come fall, winter, and spring, the rain will rain and won’t stop. I’m hoping to get an apartment in a complex with a fitness center OR to get a great 1 bedroom and buy a bike trainer…and figure out a way to get my running in. I’m looking for apartments within walking distance from work, but also big enough that when I have visitors that I’ll have a private room to myself.
  • I’d like to try some other things outside of event training to stay in shape…maybe a dance class, or crossfit. Something without an event payoff. I’m not sure if I’ll stay motivated but it might be nice to just try it for a month and see how I like it.
  • There’s a women’s Ruby meetup group that I’d like to join…they help women of all levels learn OOP, Ruby, and Rails. I think I could benefit from the female camaraderie. Tech is so heavily influenced by males. Really, I spend most of my time with guys. That’s fine and all, but sometimes the intentions are not as innocent as I’m led to believe…I’d like to steer clear of that as much as possible in this new city.

So far, that’s it. I’m trying not to plan too much. I want my life to be so loosely planned that anything else that ends up happening is just gravy. Work out. Go to work. Code like crazy during my free time. Repeat. My boyfriend’s schedule is loosening up a bit so he may be spending some time in Seattle (fingers crossed!) and shuttling up and down the coast. Since the weather is so crappy I won’t want to be hanging around anywhere anyways. Conditions are perfect for learning and introversion! I mean, if I’m not doing something that scares me, I’m not doing this right….right?


I'm 28 and I Don't Know What I'm Doing With My Life…Still

Happy Tuesday, folks!

I’ve gotten a flurry of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ love for my birthday last week. Thanks again for your outpouring of love and support, especially all I’ve gone through this last year. It means the world to me.

So, on to the title of my post. Pretty loaded, huh? Well, it’s the honest truth. I think people have a tendency to frame the conversation — meaning that they want to express to people the version of themselves they want people to view them as. Perhaps not as genuine or honest, but it’s their only way to communicate their (somewhat) true selves. One of my friends (both online and IRL) has a priceless Twitter bio which sums it up perfectly: “Let’s be honest. I’m a nobody. But I’m working hard to change that.” There’s an element of truth to that for all of us, but I also suppose it depends on how you define yourself.

Historically I’ve always defined myself by my career — what I planned to do with my life, what I studied, what I’m working on. There’s an element of predictability and truth to that. You are what you spend your time thinking about, right? I design and design, mostly fatiguing my mind and interest on it until I find something to distract me long enough until I stumble upon something that will inspire me to pick up the pixels again. And so the process repeats. However, let’s get some facts straight here — as of last week, I’ve pretty much been doing the same thing, over and over (in different ways) for 15 years. If my personal philosophy holds true — that you shouldn’t do something for more than 10 years — then I’m approximately 5 years overdue for a major career change. However, in my attempt to change my career I’ve faced a number of “signs,” if you will, that keep bringing me back into the design sphere.

Let’s start with my reiki studies. Reiki is the study and practice of energy healing. In one of my texts, a short passage caught my eye.

If you a have a talent to help people and you choose not to, then you are stealing from yourself by denying your gift.

I stopped after reading that passage and thought about it long and hard. Was I really stealing from myself by denying this gift I have of design? Am I even helping people with my design work? I’ve come across a handful of scumbags in my design career. I’ve come across people who have told me to my face that I don’t have any real skill in design. On the other hand I’ve had plenty of happy clients, projects deployed, and work on display for the world.

Then I thought about what I’d rather be doing. Wait, let me rephrase that. Is there something I’d rather be doing? Design is difficult and taxing. It’s a problem that won’t go away. Will I be fulfilled by hacking away at the problems presented to me forever and ever? Maybe…maybe not. My focus as of late has turned to healthcare, wanting to get back to patient care. It takes a lot of time to retrain for a new career, especially in medicine. I’ll need a pretty lengthy runway and I will probably still need to design to survive. Will it be the best use of my time? Will I be able to affect the change I seek through this different medium, or am I just spinning my wheels?

Some of you are probably wondering what has caused this change in tune (again). There’s been a few things.

One, I’ve been removed from most of my friends and family and spending time solo. Wait a minute. I spend most of my time alone in my own head.

Two, I attended the LAUNCH Conference on some complimentary Broke Startup Founder tickets and met some amazing people that inspired me. I met a couple of other broke startup founders who were doing amazing things. I some incredibly smart people that were going to change the world. I saw one of my heroes and froze and then lamented that I never got a chance to shake his hand. I spent most of my time there live-casting the startups as they were pitching but also keeping a pulse on the general attitude of those around me.

Third, the projects that are availing themselves to me are inspiring. I’m a bit superstitious so technically everything is in stealth mode and I won’t tell you about them…mainly for fear that they’ll go away once I talk about them. (Weird, I know.)

Fourth, it’s always so difficult explaining to my parents what exactly it is that I do. Social media? UX design? Mobile apps? Where’s the money? I don’t know, mom and dad…but it’s there somewhere.

Fifth, I’ve had somewhat of a new lease on life. A few years ago I had a bit of a cancer scare. After a couple years of refining the way I live my life and the things I eat, as well as the way I’m taking care of myself, I’m proud to say that all suspicious traces of whatever was in my system is completely gone. I got the lab reports back in February. I like to think of it as “free and clear.”

So yes, you can say that I’m 28 and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life…still. I’m certainly farther along now than when I was 18 but sometimes I’m not so sure. When I was 18 I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I wanted to change the world. I stopped at nothing to make enough money to send myself to college. I explored different majors, internships, and even schools. I sought to meet as many people as I could. I spent more time in nature. I’m 28 and, to some extent, doing the same thing — except now I’ve dropped out of grad school (too boring), dabbling in other potential part-time endeavors (massage therapy school), working on other startup ideas (never-ending), and working for other startups (on-going). The projects won’t stop coming (THANK GOODNESS) but certainly I wouldn’t be getting offers for projects if I didn’t bring some sort of value to the table, right? The design community is this never-ending cesspool of disgustingly amazing talent and utter mediocrity. You’re kind of one or the other.

Maybe my self-projections were right. Maybe I was never meant to work for someone else. Maybe I’m doomed to a life of permalancing and chasing the next big idea in my sketchbook. I suppose if that’s the worst that can happen to me, then it can’t possibly be that bad.

Marathon Countdown: 15 Days, 60-hour Workweeks

Woah, where did February go?!

There’s only 15 more days until the LA Marathon. Good news is that I wrapped up my fundraising. I can’t believe that I was able to reach the $1,000 fundraising requirement. Honestly, that seemed more out of reach than the actual 26.2 miles! Special thanks to the landslide of friends who helped me reach that goal. It means a lot to me to think that you believe in my abilities enough to sink some cash to help out disadvantaged women in Los Angeles reach their career goals.

Speaking of career goals and running and the like…I’ve only logged, like, a handful of runs from January until now. I think it’s a single digit number. That can spell trouble BUT I’m confident that I’ll still be able to finish within the 8-hour time limit. Lately I’ve been telling myself that running marathons is more of a mental feat than it is a physical one. After all, my last marathon was more brains than brawn. I mean, even when the hallucinations started settling in I kept pushing, not because my muscles could but because I told my brain to keep on going.

My days have been insanely long. When you work for yourself, you work an insane amount of hours. Combine that with working for tech startups (more than one) at one time, under different length contracts, and don’t be surprised if your calendar explodes before your very eyes. I can barely remember the month of February and it’s already gone. Insane! On some days I was clocking 20 hours a day of straight UX/design work. On other days I was pulling 12 hour days at school. On others I was working 7-8 hours at my clinical internship. I barely had time to sleep but thankfully I was so stressed out and so pumped with adrenaline and cortisone (yay stress hormones!) that I could barely stay asleep anyways. My dreams were a cross of anatomy review and design iterations. Seems a bit nutty to combine the two.

Despite the two divergent paths I’m finding a lot of harmony between the two fields. A lot of my design feels a bit more inspired now that I’m returning to my healing roots. It seems like an unlikely combination — sort of like chicken and waffles — but they go surprisingly well together. Nature has always inspired my work, in such a way that a weekend camping trip to the great outdoors can renew my perspective just as much as a two-hour tough-as-nails deep tissue massage does. It’s fascinating that the human body has been built with the capacity to self heal, and that all of the answers are right in front of us…it is a matter of re-presenting the problem to the body so that nature can present the solution. Something that I learned this week that was absolutely fascinating was that during cramping, short effleurage from tendons to the muscle belly helps reset the proprioceptors and relieve cramping. So instead of gripping, digging, ignoring, etc., something as simple as light massage can make it go away.

Something that has also came to me while drilling through a few 20-hour workdays this week…if I can’t take a 20 hour day, 15 hour day, 12 hour day, 8 hour marathon…then I won’t be able to take on the Ironman! So I better get used to these long days, because 140.6 miles is a long way to go while complaining. The mental exercise is exhausting. UX design isn’t easy and requires a lot of mental energy, but it’s worth it, much in the same way that running 26.2 or racing triathlons is tough on the body. The journey is worth it!

Anyways, with 4 days left until the big 2-8…I’d have to say that I definitely squeezed the life out of 27. Started running, resolved to take a vacation, flew to Europe for the ultimate running vacation, switching careers — it’s all a day in the life, right? Sometimes when you’re down in the trenches, it’s miserable and awful and all you feel like doing is complaining and crying. I’ve had so much emotional support this last month from my boyfriend, BFFs, running buddies, and more that it’s hard to put into words. I’m looking forward to what my next year has to bring. Definitely less races but they’ll definitely be more meaningful. Still incredibly antsy about the 70.3 but I think that after the LA Marathon I will be able to re-shift my focus back on some more balanced training. I just need to get better at balancing my energy, not my time…because clearly, I’m a time-management master!

Don't Have Time? Make It.

Time is surreal. It’s a manmade concoction with which we rule our lives. Some people say time is money, time is life, life is money. Some people never have enough time to finish a project, pursue their dreams, or spend with their loved ones. I say that if you don’t have enough time in your life, it’s your duty to make it.

Time is Surreal

Making time is probably easier said than done. (Remember, this is coming from someone with infinite lists of timelines and to-dos, so I completely sympathize.) Although you can’t physically make “more life,” “more daylight hours” or “additional hours of the day” what you can do is budget the time you’ve been given and manage that to achieve your goals. (Remember, time is relative and only holds as much clout as you give it.)

For instance, I could probably stand to budget 2 hours every Sunday to go to the Buddhist meditation center. I haven’t done that lately — for almost two months! — but I know that those are the best spent 2 hours of every week I could spend. I know that if I make the time to spend 2 hours meditating at the center, instead of doing whatever it is I do on my Sunday afternoons, the rest of my week will fly by smoothly. If I give myself those 2 hours, for the rest of the week I become hyperaware of problems before they surface. My productivity shoots through the roof. I sleep better, I eat better, I exercise, and I become a happier and more peaceful person overall. I solve problems quickly and efficiently. So what’s gotten in the way of me making the time to go? Unfortunately there is no one else to blame but myself.

In Ivanka Trump’s book, The Trump Card, she said it best — When you don’t have the time to do something, that is when you need to do it most. You’re completely stressed out at work and it’s driving you up a wall. You need a break from it all but you can’t afford the time. That is the time when you should make the time for yourself. Simply put, the time that you should exert the most effort is when you can afford it least. That is how you truly achieve excellence.

When you put your foot down and discipline yourself to make the time to take a break or to pursue your goals, you will immediately feel empowered and in charge of your life. Fed up with your current job? Send out some resumes. Having a fat day? Go for a run. Feeling under the weather? Take the day off of work. Have the courage to stick up for the person who needs it most — you!

Productivity = Daytime^(-1) * Caffeine

Just in case you didn’t quite follow along, productivity is inversely related to daytime hours and is compounded by caffeine. At least it is for me.

Night Owl - Working At Night

I’ve always believed that the daytime is meant for living. You know, experiencing the world, meeting people, soaking up the sunshine. It has always seemed counterintuitive that people slaved away in cubicles during the most beautiful hours of the day. For me, some of my best “work” is done during the day. I get inspired by conversations, sights, and sounds. I get to meet other business owners. I get to engage in volunteer work.

The bulk of my production work is done at night. See, during the day, my email box queues up with requests from my clients…website fixes, inquiries, support requests, etc. Some of my clients are very much like me and think aloud in their emails, and sometimes they end up resolving their own issues before I ever get involved. (A win for all!) However, I find that it is easier for me to provide support in bursts in the evening hour when I am not being inundated with requests and emails/calls flying back and forth. Contrary to popular belief it is not because I am avoiding responsibility or human contact…it is just easier to work when I’m focused on batches of projects. (I do my best to answer urgent requests or acknowledge receipt of emails via my mobile.)

As a freelancer I have to budget my time wisely. If I keep jumping from task to task I’ll get nowhere quickly. But, if I allow like projects to accumulate, I’ll be able to process them quickly since I generally work in zones…sometimes I’m in the coding zone. Sometimes I’m in a design zone. Sometimes I’m in the social media zone. And sometime’s I’m in a copywriting zone.

How do you manage your creative or productive energy? Any tips you want to share?

The Best Way To Motivate Every Creative

I love what I do. I love it, I love it, I love it. It is days like today that I thank the starry sky above that I’ve been blessed with the brains, determination, and opportunity to pursue my passions fearlessly.

Dress For Success - Hollywood Taft Building

Last night I slept when I wanted to. This morning, I woke up when I felt like it. Today, I drove through Los Angeles, with the windows down and the sun shining bright above me, to meet with a client. I sat down to a casual meeting over coffee to help a client with her newly launched website and to chat about her concerns and other projects. Afterwards I drove south on the 101 and into Hollywood…the day was so clear that I could see the blue skies behind the downtown LA skyline. I parked, grabbed some lunch, and headed up to chat with Dress for Success Worldwide West about what we could do to improve their website and social media marketing efforts.

Dress For Success Worldwide West Twitter

I spend so much of my time behind a computer, clicking away on my keys, sending tweets and writing blogs (for myself and others). I go through designs like I do laundry. I mentor and I critique and I troubleshoot and every once in awhile I get to peek my head out from the madness to sit across from a client, face to face, and actually TALK. What’s great is that the universe has thrown some pretty amazing people in my path. I admire every single client I bring on — for their determination, their drive, and investing in something that will help make the world a better place in their own special way.

On a day like today I am happy that I chose to follow the path of greatest resistance, that I chose to ignore the naysayers, and to chase my dreams. To be a creative is to be a very special person. So, my dear clients, when you wonder what it takes for a creative to do their very best work for YOUR project, keep some of these points in mind:

  • Give them the freedom to be creative. That is why you hired them, after all. (Check their portfolio beforehand to make sure they work in the style you are looking for.)
  • Realize that you’ve hired them for their professional opinion. They won’t always be identical to yours. If you’ve been stuck with a yes-man I would start looking elsewhere because it’s obvious that they’re not thinking…they’re just doing.
  • Give them space to create. It’s very hard for people to be creative on demand. Maybe if you stopped calling so often or sending a deluge of emails they might have the time to sit down and do the work without constant interruption.
  • Remember that creatives do their best work when they’re inspired. If they’re not answering your calls or emails right away, it might be because they are doing research or contemplating how to approach your project.
  • Give them definitive deadlines and instructions. If you absolutely need things a certain way, let them know up front. Otherwise, don’t get upset if they can’t read your mind.
  • Challenge them. If you think the work they’ve produced is mediocre, say so…but give constructive reasons as to why, so that they may improve and create their work in your image.
  • Be thankful. Just as much as you screened them and (hopefully) wrote them a check, they are doing you a favor too. They are sharing their gift with you so that you can, in turn, share it with the world. Don’t ever forget that they’ve chosen you, just as much as you’ve chosen them.

Are you a creative with something to say? What suggestions would you give?

4 Steps To Making Your Goals More Achievable

In my last post, I went at great lengths to detail exactly HOW to set goals. It might seem a bit self-explanatory but I’ve worked with a lot of people who are just plain overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. If you are one of those people, hopefully my suggestions helped!

So, we’ve established that having goals are great. However, goals that are too far out of reach become more discouraging than encouraging. How do you deal? You make them more achievable!

Here are four steps to consider when refining your goals to make them achievable.

  1. Realize that the only thing standing in the way of your goals is yourself. If you really want to achieve a goal, find out what your barriers to entry are. Work on breaking those down first so that you can freely proceed with your plans.
  2. Don’t sabotage your goals before you get started by making them too far out of reach. Remember, the higher the expectation, the greater the disappointment. By putting your goals too far out of reach you give yourself a reason to fail later.
  3. Hold yourself accountable with milestones. Break down your goals into manageable mini-goals. Most importantly, give yourself enough time to meet those milestones.
  4. If you slip and don’t achieve your goals by the anticipated date, forgive yourself. Learn from the obstacles that were in your way, remedy them, and keep going!

Did I leave anything off? How do you make your goals more achievable?

Find Success By Setting Goals

I make lists all of the time: lists of things to do, places to see, what to accomplish. But, what I haven’t done in awhile is put together a strategy of how to get there. (My idea of long-term planning is making dinner reservations at the end of the week.) Most of what I’ve done thus far I’ve left up to chance and fate. I’d say things have turned out all right, but for once, I want to feel like I’m in charge of my own destiny.

After my vlog on consistency as well as my blog on anticipated world travels, I was hopelessly driven to create an action plan for the next year.

So, what did I come up with? I’m taking a five-step approach with my goals.

  1. Every plan starts understanding motivations. Once you understand why you want to do the things you want to do, you can move on to the next step.
  2. Write down two to three realistic, attainable, and quantifiable goals. Anything over three will be too overwhelming to tackle.
  3. Do your due diligence. Make an actionable plan to achieve your goals.
  4. Execute your plan. If you slip, don’t beat yourself up…just keep going. Be consistent!
  5. Celebrate your success. (You have to close the loop psychologically, so make it count!)

Here is what my goal schema looks like. I urge you to create your own so that it’s relevant to you. (There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Ideally, though, all of the information you put will be interconnected.)

Setting Goals

My three major goals (for all of the blogosphere to witness) are:

  1. Generate a six-figure income for my business. (Notice I said “for” and not “from.”)
  2. Commit to a regular schedule of study for both grad school and my personal projects.
  3. Save enough cash to travel the world by April 2011.

What I noticed was that I’ve sandwiched my short term goal of world travels in between my long term goals (personal development and business goals). It’s a smart move, considering I don’t enjoy inefficiencies or redundancies in my life. If you’re in the same boat I urge you to write out — ON PAPER — what your goals are and try to connect the dots. Is there a way you can adjust your career goals to align with your personal development goals? The closer they are, the happier you’ll be.

My personal development goals mainly revolve around learning…wrapping up my masters degree and maybe considering my doctorate. On top of that I am interested in learning some programming languages, hence the cross training section. Since my personal development goals are monetizable, both directly and indirectly, they can inherently be connected to my business goals. Win!

Next, I’ll go into detail on what exactly counts as a realistic and attainable goal…at least, in my opinion. Stay tuned!

Getting Dressed For Work Is Kind Of A Big Deal

I’ve always loved dressing up.

Amara Poolswasdi, Dressed For Work

For some girls, that means whoring out or dressing skanky. For me, it’s always meant sophisticated/business casual. I grew up wanting to dress older than I actually was because I wanted to be taken seriously. In high school I was that annoying girl who really wanted to wear cardigans, slacks, turtlenecks, button-down shirts, and heels. (As a matter of fact, after I got my driver license, those were the exact pieces I bought after I drove myself to the mall. I was only sixteen at the time.)

To an extent I am still that girl. Unfortunately at my current age it ends up confusing a lot of people. “Is this woman 40 with amazing skin?”

I realize that I am in the business of packaging identities. Graphic design, marketing, and communications is all about what you say and how you say it. I am not really into fashion per se. I enjoy perusing magazines from time to time or window shopping like the rest, but every once in awhile I emerge from a maelstrom of identity-crisis inducing incidents as a reincarnated and refreshed creative. I find that it pays to let it show.

A significant other recently pointed out that as a designer, I had to pay more attention to the details of my own presentation. It wasn’t enough to have a creative portfolio or to have artistic interests. Not only do you have to play the part, you have to look it too. Time and time again, I’ve found a modicum of truth behind that statement. So, although I am not going to throw out all of my conservative clothing, I do resolve to add a bit more flair and fun into my wardrobe. (That can take the form of interesting accessories, rather than major pieces.) I want to approach my own presentation that I would my client’s brand identity, website design, or copywriting work. I want it to be fun, interesting, and leave something up to the imagination! I want people to dig deeper and find the double meaning.

The thing about getting dressed for work is that it puts you in the right frame of mind. Even though I work from home, I don’t have to look like it. Why wear drab clothes and not bother getting out of bed? It makes me feel lazy; therefore, I present myself lazily and my work comes off very sloppy. But, if I take the time to get dressed and accessorize, it helps me practice my design skills well before I begin putting pen to paper or mouse to screen.

Today it took me about five seconds to decide to snazzy up my outfit. Why? I’m under deadline today! I have to get a website deployed later this afternoon and get my client’s book out to the publisher. Now that I’m in the right frame of mind, I can think creatively and get the job done with some…wait for it…flair!

Office Space Flair

I Hate Networking!

A young up and coming star in the start-up world recently confessed to me that he hated networking. I sighed (with great relief on the inside) told him to join the club.

I’ve been to mixers, networking events, tweetups, meetups, etc — all in the name of being more social. When you’re tethered to your computer for most of the sunshiny day, you tend to gravitate towards being as social as you possibly can in the small bursts of availability that you have. Getting yourself “out there” is pretty nebulous for most people. “How do I meet new people?” “What do I say?” “Where do I meet these people?” Oh, the anxiety!

Well, I would not say that I am some sort of networking rock star but I happen to do perfectly fine at events. At first I hated going to them, but after a few events I realized why I disliked them so much. It was my fault. See, I was going into it with some sort of crazy notion that I would meet some fabulous people that I would be able to plug in to whatever my project was at that time. That was the wrong attitude to have!

Stop networking to gain business contacts or collect cards, and just get yourself out there to meet new people. Honestly, the best way to network is to do so with no intentions outside of just making friends. Some people are meant for “working a room,” and all the power to them. However, if that’s not your thing, I am sure that this rather innocuous five step plan can help you!

  1. Walk up to someone who is alone
  2. Acknowledge something about the event you’re at
  3. Introduce yourself
  4. Ask an open ended question
  5. LISTEN!

Are you familiar with the adage, “Only boring people are boring”? Well, if not you should burn that into the insides of your retinas because I find it to be very true. Learn to keep the conversation going and learn to be your true self, and soon, these events will be a piece of cake!