I think the best way to start this month's column is with a confession: I have a phobia that no one will attend a party, should I throw one. When I close my eyes, I see a decorated ballroom and, instead of a big crowd, there are only 6 or 7 people, drinks in hand, silently milling about the room, the sound of their heels echoing in my ears. Where am I? I am hiding from them, nervously staring at the front door, hoping it will soon open to throngs of party-goers. It's not as bad as my dream where I go to elementary school in my underwear, but it's pretty darned close! And it often stops me in my tracks from hosting events.
I even have proof. One year I threw a last-minute New Year's Eve party and only 2 people came. We awkwardly sat on chairs, staring at each other, hoping someone else would arrive. It turned out to be a fun time, but what stuck with me was the awkward fear of an empty room.
If you're wondering why I am sharing this with you, it's because we just began to plan a big bash in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Print Edition of the Women's Yellow Pages. And, to be more specific, I just returned from looking at what could be the perfect venue.
While being given the red-carpet tour, all I could think about was where my 6 or 7 lonely people would choose to mill around while waiting for the party to (hopefully) start. I knew I had to do something to stop my fear from taking root and putting the kabash on this party which was, after all, my idea. My dream, actually.
So, while checking out the ballroom, I whispered to the Manager, "You know, I like the intimate size of this room because I have a terrible fear of throwing a party, and..."
She finished my thought, "...and no one will come?"
While saying it, she threw her head back and shared a light, and lilting laugh, "Everyone has that fear."
Her words were like magic to me. All of a sudden, my 6 or 7 people (bless them for being such loyal supporters) were part of a huge crowd, having a great time in a room filled with laughter, networking, food and drink. I saw myself at the podium, thanking all the wonderful friends in the room for their support and announcing (pointing out, really) all the great advertisers who have been with the Women's Yellow Pages for over 20 years. It felt wonderful!
I am sharing this story with you because the silence of holding on to a phobia can be very powerful and debilitating. If you have a fear that is getting in the way of accomplishing your dreams or goals, I hope you will choose to share it with a caring and understanding person. The minute the words are out in the airwaves, its power diminishes. And, like cochroaches, people seem to appear from nowhere and share with you their similar (and not so similar) fears. It's amazingly reassuring and freeing.
Ellen Fisher, Founder and Publisher who hopes to see you and tons of other happy folks at the Women's Yellow Pages party in the spring of 2013