Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone--And Into Mothman's
Looking back at the Mothman Festival a lot of it seems hard to remember. The few days we spent in town were just one huge whirlwind of awesome costumes, beautiful art, social media-worthy moments, surveys and so much more. That being said, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date, both professionally and personally.
We spent one full day at the festival, and during that time our primary focus was to get as many surveys completed as possible. As one of our team’s two research directors, I felt an even greater sense of responsibility to achieve this goal. On top of that, I was also tasked with running the WVU Reed College of Media’s Instagram story. The purpose for this was to give a glimpse into what BrandJRNY is like as a capstone class and what we’re working on this year. Being an introvert, and the type of person to shy away from initiating conversation or being in front of the camera, this seemed like (and was) a monumental task that would require a lot of willpower and courage on my part.
Yet, walking through the streets of downtown Point Pleasant in a very elementary Mothman costume with a shirt that read, “Mothman is real and he’s my boyfriend,” I couldn’t help but begin to feel a sense of ease. The festival attendees gave me smiles and words of praise for my outfit, and that helped me to stand taller as I walked through the crowds with my clipboard in hand. People would stop and ask to take my picture and young children would wave to me from across the street, bringing a huge smile to my face every single time. With each small encounter, I grew more and more confident in my ability to approach people and ask them to take our survey. The survey was brief and asked respondents about their thoughts and opinions of the event they were currently at. Not surprisingly, many people were happy to do so.
Throughout the day, I grew bolder and bolder to the point where, by the end of the day, I was yelling to strangers from behind the BrandJRNY booth as I eagerly waved my aforementioned clipboard, attempting to attract festival-goers to stop by, take our surveys and learn more about the work our team does. At one point, my mother—a fellow WVU advertising alumna—texted me after seeing a video on Instagram of my antics to ask if I was alright because there was no way she could believe that I would act like that in my normal state of being.
I will definitely give credit to the power of a costume, as it’s been proven that what you wear can influence your confidence levels. That being said, I also have to give myself credit where credit is due. I put myself out there, pushing myself to do things I used to think I would never—and could never—do. When I’m passionate about a project, the way I am about BrandJRNY and the City of Point Pleasant (yes, already!), I do my best to set aside my anxieties and put all of my energy, excitement, and myself into my work.
I heard countless times throughout the day that attendees come back year after year because they felt accepted and welcomed by others at the festival and the Point Pleasant community. I understand that feeling, too, now.
This event was not only a colossal step for me personally, but also professionally. It showed me that I am capable of going outside of my comfort zone, even if it was hard in the past and even if it still seems intimidating at the moment.
Anne Parker, BrandJRNY research director, is a senior at West Virginia University, graduating in December of 2019. She loves all things digital, data-based, and social networked. Check out her work at anneeparker.com, and if you’re a glutton for punishment, follow her on various social media platforms @annep901.