I almost chickened out.
From the moment that Cliff invited me to speak at the conference, I was a little baffled. Since when was I any kind of authority when it came to dating, pickup, and seduction? (Never mind that I have spend the last decade of my life going on hundreds of dates, entering in countless relationships, flings, and one night stands.)
I didn't think I'd have the guts to go, especially when it looked like BF David wouldn't be able to join me. I was even going to use him as an excuse to back out, citing his nonexistent jealousy. The truth was, he was behind me all the way and had no worries at all about my attending an event chock full of pick-up artists.
Then I used money as an excuse. I'm still paying off my Europe trip and my credit cards couldn't take further strain. (Though let's face it, an excuse is an excuse.)
Along came PUA Logan, who invited me to join his new company, Project Manhattan, as a visiting instructor and wingwoman. He had business cards made up for me and in a display of even grander generosity, offered to sponsor me on the trip.
I had a ride and accomodations; now all I needed was a speech. Shouldn't be too hard to fill fifteen minutes, right?
The problem was that I had no clue as to what I wanted to talk about. I had a few ideas, but nothing was coalescing into a real presentation. I made some notes and when I read a partial rough draft of a speech to BF David, he tactfully told me that it sounded like I wasn't sure what my topic was. He was right.
I had so much doubt in the weeks leading up to the conference and almost called it off several times. To say I was nervous about the trip was an understatement. I didn't think I could do it. I didn't think anything I had to say would possibly have the substance and wisdom of the more experienced speakers.
Somehow, miraculously, I decided on a solid topic and the speech came together. BF David listened to me run through it several times and showed near-supernatural amounts of support and encouragement.
"You're an expert," he urged me on.
I didn't think experts were allowed to question themselves and their knowledge, but I couldn't help it. However, as I finetuned my presentation, I grew more confident and started believing I had something worthwhile to say, that I could really help men by offering my perspective.
It wasn't until I walked into the convention hall that I really believed I could do it. By the time I got up on stage, I didn't need to fake my poise and self-assurance; it was a genuine part of me.
I guess I wanted to say all of the above to let people know that even though I was perfectly at ease during my presentation and with at the conference itself, there were some bumpy, unsure moments leading up to it. I would have never been able to do it if the men I mentioned didn't believe in me enough to invite me to Montreal, get me there, and help me prepare along the way and I am extremely grateful to Cliff, PUA Logan, and BF David.
What I went through is not unlike what a lot of men go through when it comes to dating. You might look at soemone who's a supposed natural with the opposite sex and think they never doubt themselves, that their self-esteem never suffers. But in every case, that confidence came from some kind of personal success or external support. And I think that's the role I want to provide men in the pickup community: a source of support and reassurance, until it's replaced with direct success and self-assurance.
It's amazing what we can accomplish when others believe in us. Before long, we start believing in ourselves just as strongly.