Story time: When I was a high school junior, my 4th period class was assigned the dreaded “B” lunch slot, which was the one right in the middle of the class. 20 minutes of math, then lunch, then 20 more minutes of math. It was super disruptive, but that’s not the point. None of my friends or sort-of friends had B lunch during this particular quarter. I sucked at small talk and it took me a long time to open up to people. So just sitting down at another table didn’t feel like an option. Looking out at the cafeteria, all I saw were conversations about parties I didn’t go to, people who already have plenty of friends, empty chairs in the middle of big groups where I would certainly feel out of place if I tried to join in.
This isn’t a story about my eventual lunchroom triumph. No, I just ate by myself and read through lunch that quarter. If you’re thinking, Big deal, let me tell you about how much high school sucked for me--hush! It’s a metaphor. Being a shy, quiet, or anxious person in this world is tough. People misinterpret us all the time, assuming we're boring or conceited or rude because we're reserved or content to do our own thing. Even after high school is over, the world still can feel like one big loud cafeteria to some of us: We aren’t sure how to join in, or if we should, or even if we want to.
And at first, Pitch Wars seems like no exception.
The mentor blog hop starts in a mere 10 days, and the submission window is less than 3 weeks away. Activity on Twitter is picking up already with ice-breaker games, fast-paced conversations, teasers, mock mentor fights, and GIFs galore. If that’s your jam, awesome! I hope you’re having a blast out there.
This post isn’t for you though.
This post is for people who take one look at all the chatter on #PitchWars and feel immediately overwhelmed. For people who spend 20 minutes searching for the best, most perfect GIF in history, then give up without posting it because the conversation has already moved on. For people who don’t know how to or are afraid to jump into a conversation. For people who feel like they’re on the sidelines because everyone else already seems to know each other.
If you can relate to any of that, this post is for you.
The Pitch Wars community is genuinely a warm, welcoming place with some of the kindest, most generous folks I’ve ever met. But that doesn’t mean joining it isn’t a big step for some of us.
I’m a mentor now, but I was in your shoes 2 years ago while thinking about entering the contest. I didn’t even know there was stuff happening on the hashtag until shortly before the submission window opened, and once I did, I barely participated. I didn’t know how to use GIFs on Twitter and I never so much as liked a single mentor’s tweet. It didn’t matter at all. I was still chosen for the contest and formed wonderful, lasting friendships with my mentor, other mentors, and fellow mentees.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t already know everyone, or that I sucked at social media and hashtags and live-tweeting and things like coming up with wacky team names. You aren't boring, stuck-up, or weird just because you don't relish doing stuff like that. It’s not the point of Pitch Wars at all.
If that stuff isn’t for you, don’t assume that means Pitch Wars itself isn’t for you.
There are lots of us out here who feel that way. And Pitch Wars is definitely for us!
This year, there’s even more action on the hashtag, and it started even earlier. I just want you to know that I understand how you’re feeling if you look out at all the Pitch Wars activity like it’s one big cafeteria talking about a party you didn’t go to. But listen. The party is happening right now, and you’re totally invited. (I put you on the list!)
So if you’ve got a case of Pitch Wars FOMO (or FLISHFOMOEIDBIAIEO--that’s Feeling Like I Should Have Fear Of Missing Out Except I Don’t Because I’m An Introvert Even Online, and yes, I made that up, if you can believe it), here are some tips from one shy, anxious, awkward, quiet introvert to another:
Join in if you want to. But don’t feel pressured to do it if you don’t want to, or that you have to be a social twitterfly in order to be well-liked by peers and mentors. The right manuscript will get you into the contest even if you don’t use Twitter at all.
Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone in the community yet. There are definitely folks who know each other, from real life, CP groups, other contests, past years of Pitch Wars, etc. But you stand an equal chance of getting into this year’s Pitch Wars as they do, and you can start making connections now.
If you’re new to Twitter and don’t really get it, you’re not alone. It can be tricky, it moves fast, and a recent update made conversations harder to follow than they were before (at least for me). Don’t stress! It’s just a website with a kind of silly-looking bird logo. Mastery of Twitter has nothing to do with how well you write, and mentors know this.
It’s perfectly fine to step away if you dip your toe in and then suddenly your phone has 20 notifications and it’s too much. (Side note: if this is you, consider turning notifications off! Not just for Pitch Wars but for all things. It’s liberating.)
Ask me if you have a question or concern but are afraid of being awkward at mentors. Because I get it! I’m awkward too.
Remember, everyone else is really just faking it till they make it too. This is general life advice. It might not make putting yourself out there any easier, but it’s 100% the truth.
Can't wait to read your awesome submissions!