Over the weekend, I had my head down, frantically trying to finish my presentation for Adaptive Path’s MX East Conference in the Philadelphia area. (I attended MX East on Monday and had a great time.)
I spoke to a friend that morning who was thinking about going to Brooklyn’s Red Hook ball fields — the borough’s increasingly not-so-secret stash of outdoor hawker stands selling some of the very best Latino food in the city. As it turned out, it was the last day of the season that the stands would be open, and I didn’t make it.
Around midday Sunday, I took Mister President for a walk and ran into some friends in the neighborhood, who invited me to go for lunch with them in Brooklyn’s DUMBO area; just a short walk from my apartment on an unseasonably beautiful day. I had to decline and hurry back to my desk to continue banging away in Keynote.
Then, while finishing up in Philadelphia on Monday evening, I got a text message from some friends inviting me out to drinks after work, which I naturally had to decline too, as my train wouldn’t arrive back in New York until very late.
I feel like I’m missing out on my life.
Missing in Action
As much as I really enjoy public speaking, as incredibly flattered as I am by every invitation, I’m growing increasingly unwilling to bear the travel and the time away from home, from friends and loved ones, from personal business, from my dog. And every talk requires so much preparation, so much research and practice and so many nights and weekends spent declining social opportunities that I seem to lose weeks for every hour I commit to speaking in front of audiences.
In no way do I intend to sound ungrateful for this particular lot in life. Unequivocally, I consider myself very lucky to have been offered the gigs that have come my way. I haven’t nearly the depth of experience in public speaking that many much more talented peers have, so every appearance is a new stage of growth for me. I learn something new and invaluable every time I give a talk, and and there’s a long way to go before I’ll feel jaded by the experience, if ever. And maybe I wouldn’t feel so exhausted if I hadn’t just come off a stretch of doing several talks in very short order. (Actually, there’s still at least one more to go next month.)
Mostly, I just wanted to reflect that all of these terrific opportunities are more demanding than I’d really anticipated when I first started eagerly accepting them. Next year, I think I need to cut back a bit, at least enough that I don’t miss so that I can spontaneously join my friends for food and drink more often.