Thursday, June 27, 2013

BlogHer and Wishing You Weren't Too Terrified To Attend



There is this big, big social media conference coming up the end of July, in Chicago. It will more than likely have over 5,000 attendees. It's known as the world's largest social media conference for women.

Huge stuff. Big deal. Thrilling chance of a lifetime to meet most of your favorite reads and readers, face to face. It's called BlogHer.

You really want to go to this conference and see everyone, you do -- but you don't even entertain the thought because people terrify you. Or, you've bought your ticket because you really want to go, but now you're dreading the fact that you did.

What to do. You don't want to miss this but you don't want to be there among the unknown, either. Because your personality type is the kind that gets overwhelmed and panicky at the thought of a small city of people and the swimming sea of faces that await you. In a concentrated space. I mean, you really don't actually ::know:: anyone.

But, still, again, YOU REALLY WANT TO GO. You're tired of missing out on things just because you feel you don't know if you'll do the right thing around all those people. Where others see the chance to squee (it's a thing that happens a lot when bloggers meet) and hugging and high pitched excited talking one over the other because of the thrill of being together with your people, y'all...

My first BlogHer, San Diego, and never was I happier to see someone than when I saw Polly.

... for you, something else happens -- fight or flight kicks in. And you don't want to pay all that money and make all those plans for child care for five days away, just to end up hiding in your hotel room, berating yourself with the "I knew I shouldn't have come!" self talk while you dial home, crying, promising yourself you'll never come to one of these again.

I'm with you. I hear you. And I feel just this way, but still, I really want to go.

So, I'm going. I have my ticket, and I'm taking the train to Chicago, and I'll be at BlogHer '13.

Because it will be four nights and four days of getting the rare chance to say thank you in person to all the writers that make me smile and feel less alone in my world. I'll be with my people. And I won't have to pretend to be normal for FOUR DAYS.

ohmygosh poor Ree, could I be any more obnoxious. I love her.

It's work for me to bring myself out of my shell, but I do it. It doesn't feel any more natural now than it did when I first went to BlogHer two years ago, but I'm there, because missing out on things from fear or panic is not something I want. And I'm not saying it's easy to do, to just buck up and do it. No, I'm not saying that at all.

I'm saying that the risk, the perceived threat to our being, the fear that makes us want to lock the hotel door behind us while we dive under the covers, is not going to win.

I've examined what brings out the adrenaline in me that tells me to run and stay in my hotel room, and I'm going to press over-ride on these emotions and do my possible best.

Years ago, but years ago, this wonderful therapist *again on this site with the fabulous therapist, I know* I had told me that the best defense we have against any attack is knowledge. Information; finding out what causes what brings out what and therein you can start to re-work the puzzle to create a different picture.

What you find on introspection is uniquely your story. For me, my answers come from the fear of past mistakes, past done-to-mes, past pain.

It's the wanting to avoid the above said pain that'll send you flying to the nearest bank of elevators,  pressing and lighting up aaaaaall the buttons thinking that will get you a ride back to your room sooner. Hide, hide, you just want to be safe and hidden.

I know what's behind my fear; it's the what-if of saying the wrong thing, acting the wrong way, not being friendly enough, being dog wagging tail too friendly, being boring, not being witty, having nothing to say, all this and a bag of peanuts too while I worry about my flabby arms in my sleeveless tops knocking someone out while I run to hug them. In other words, pick a card, any card.

I fear these things because they've all happened to me before, every one. And I wince at the memory. I have said the wrong thing and called a blogger the wrong name in front of her tens and tens of friends, I have hugged someone who was very very hands off, I have appeared unfriendly when I was actually just overwhelmed at meeting so many people at once (so interesting how overwhelmed more often than not gets translated as unapproachable), I have met someone I really liked and just about jumped in their lap -- when the feelings were not equally returned. I have been quiet, not saying anything, while surrounded by so many faces at once. I have not always been able to think of something clever to say. I have thought of something funny to say, but then it was only laugh out loud funny to me. And I do have slap-happy flabby arms in tank tops.

I've pulled each of those cards out of the deck.

But, and this is the thing, every single time I've taken a chance and gone to this mini world within a hotel... it's been good. Really good. I come home after being hugged back as hard I hugged, someone I didn't think would know me, did; I had one on one time with the special people who inspire me in my daily life, I could feel that people liked being with me, I was with others who were just as overtaken by emotion at being with PEOPLE who blogged for pete's sake, and that got what we all do online. Where is this in real life, right? There were scheduled programs, panels, sessions, workshops, talks; in rooms, hotel bars, hallway floors, about to captcha or not to captcha.

I was with bloggers.

I thought of funny things to say and made people funnier than I am, laugh. That's what I remind myself of... Remember the last time you did this, you were so glad you did. So do it again. 

My eternal BlogHer roommates, third year in a row. Dusty and Varda.

And so I do. And it's not easy, but I do.

We may not like the work, but oh how we love the fruit.

If you're one of the ones like me, whose first reaction to BlogHer is "I don't know how to do a big conference," please think twice. Go. If you do, look for me-- I'll be easy to spot, so say hello. I'll be the one with the deer frozen in the headlights look-- but if you get a little closer, you'll see that I'm having the time of my life. I'm smiling, I just have one of those faces.
 


I've got my ticket for BlogHer, not even flabby armpits could stop me.

xo

* * * 

53 comments:

  1. Girl, I can imagine this happening to you the first time, but as popular as you are, I can't imagine it happening more than just that first time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will go one day. You better make sure you're there. xo

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am terribly sad that I don't get to go this year, but that feeling would be terror if I were actually attending. I'll go next year and will do all of the embarrassingly wrong things that you've done. It'll be great!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I LOVE BlogHer and cannot wait to hug you...and clean up your coffee off the floor... xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the memories in our minds... See you soon!

      Delete
  5. I wish I could be there, dumb life getting in the way.

    Have fun. Can't wait to see the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear all: BlogHer is worth the tripping over my too long maxi skirt and spilling coffee all over the beautiful hotel floors. So worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll be there! This is my first year. I hope I run into you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. for women...kills me...i got no where to go...smiles.
    ha. i know guys can go but...would be cool...have really enjoyed
    meeting blogfriends...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was there last year and had a great time. I never like to say never, but I do not think I will be there this year though I would love to meet you in person!! You are so right, sometime we just have to jump off the diving board!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for writing this. I'm going this year for the first time and am a tad terrified of the throngs of people. I can't wait to give you a hug and I'll try not to slap you in the face with my flabby arms.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I cannot wait. It's going to be so magical and informative and fun and whatever you want to get out of it YOU WILL. It is that massive and that absolutely worth it. Push past the fear.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Less than a month! I'm still pinching myself that I'm going. I will be an anxious, sweaty mess on the train ride down - wanted to warn you in advance.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm SO sad I'm not going this year. I felt terribly overwhelmed by it last year (but still had a good time) and then made plans during that time this year, I think in a subconscious effort to keep myself from having to be brave. And I'm feeling so annoyed with myself now because I'm wishing I was going. Next year!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I CAN'T WAIT TO MEET YOU! MUST meet you. Be aware that I'll be looking for you until I get to hug you. But not in a stalky way. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stalky is ok, that's how I know you like me. xo

      Delete
  15. Have a blast with all the blog peeps, Alexandra!!

    Hope all is well...

    XOXO
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll miss you, Anna. ANy plans for next year's Erma Bombeck?

      Delete
  16. Good for you for going and not letting the fear take over. I didn't think about going this year, but I have considered it in the past. Of course, I had all the same concerns, plus I feared I might be so nervous that I'd get buttcrack sweat. Not cute. Maybe next year though...

    ReplyDelete
  17. It meant so much to me to meet you there!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were a highlight, Anna. This year, I want to spend time with you.

      Delete
  18. How I wish I could be there to take my prize in the awkward pauses and/or inappropriate comments competition.

    I bet that you don't have flabby armpits at all. Those pictures say you don't, anyway.

    Have a fabulous time!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh how I wish. Enjoy yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I can't wait to see you again!! I am so with you on all of this - flabby arms included. (She said, desperately doing last minute weight lifts.) It's so true that pushing past the fear is important and extremely worth it. I got so much out of my experiences last year at both BlogHer and Aiming Low NonCon. I was nervous as hell both times but came away with new friends and new opportunities. The "what ifs" would've dogged me. If I'm going to do this blogging thing, I'm going to go big or stay home, right? Being in that hotel full of bloggers for a few days - people who all 'get it' is an amazing thing and though I'm nervous...I'm excited because I know once I get there I'll all be good. See you soon! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It'll be great to be with you again, Linda. I really like talking to you and am so happy we met.

      Delete
  21. It really is a rare opportunity to thank and hug and look into the eyes of all the other bloggers and writers who helped you, shared you, made you think, made you want to be better, reached out in tough times, celebrated in good times.
    I look forward to BlogHer so much now, and will relish in every moment.
    I'll use Shari's flaming hair as a beacon to find you and say Thanks to you, as well, for helping make more people comfortable in joining us there. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey girl -- I bought my pass already. Now I just have to book the flight and find roommates. But I'm still on the fence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It'll be so fun to see you, Beautiful Shannon.

      Delete
  23. wow, this is AMAZING!!!!!!!!! you said everything i have felt in those situations! wow.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What? You have gorgeous arms!

    Love you - can't wait to hang out. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smoke and mirrors and spandex, lady jennie, I mean roomie. xo

      Delete
  25. Replies
    1. It'll be so nice, Suni. You are the best.

      Delete
  26. I think the smartest thing I did for my first BlogHer in San Diego two years ago was to make plans to meet up with you just after I got there...two newbies who had never met before but shared in the terror and wanted to make a new friend, fast. We broke the ice and ended up enjoy ourselves thoroughly. You've phrased it all beautifully.

    And the photo of you, Shari, and Varda - I love it. Liz and I may have to prank your room this year...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish we would've done it one more time, Nancy. You're a doll.

      Delete
  27. I can't wait to meet wonderful, fantastic, non-flabby arms--you in real life.
    Estelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm excited to meet you, Estelle!!

      Delete
  28. This post makes me smile mostly because you get to the bottom of the feelings we all feel sitting in that safe hotel room, I take comfort knowing you know exactly - having been there yourself. I met you at my first small conference (that I contemplated ditching) - can't wait to see your smiling face this year! I'd like to know when you ever had flabby arms btw..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't wait to see you again, and BBC was so nice.. small and I was able to really talk to people. xo

      Delete
  29. I'm glad you wrote this. I'm a newbie this year and am scared out of my ever-loving mind. I most likely WILL spent a good portion of the weekend in my room. So stop up and say hey, won't you?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would really really love to attend and meet you, even if you were wearing a tank top. Scratch that. ESPECIALLY if you were wearing a tank top. Also, HUGE congratulations on being one of bloggers voice of the year. Those blogher people clearly know what they're doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. YOu'd love it, you really would. I can't describe the feeling of so many of us together, but it is very cool. xo

      Delete
  31. I am currently in the "i bought my ticket but am now dreading it" category. This is my first Blogher and the thought of it makes me want to pee from both excitement and nerves. My anxiety increases daily and I'm afraid I'm going to spend the entire time hiding under a table. But...I am super excited to meet the fabulous bloggers that I stalk (or wish I could stalk more often). I can't wait to meet you. There will be much squeeing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a gas, once you go, you'll want to go every year. xo

      Delete
  32. Thank you so much for writing all this. I'm not going, but again you read my mind. I'm not going partly because we're traveling so much this summer that the bank account's depleted, but also because of all the things that you wrote in the post. I'm so quiet as it is as a blogger (and I don't even have to talk or show my face!), and I imagine myself steamrolled in such a huge gathering. I'd love to go though, because I would love, love to meet other bloggers. Someday. But I will only go if I know you will be there!

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are quiet times, too, Cecilia, and quiet tracks, so you'd be fine. And of course I would be with you throughout. You know I would. xo

      Delete
  33. I'm not sure if we met last year — my first; very nervous — but I am so looking forward to properly meeting you in person in a few weeks!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Luv this post, Alexandra! Thanks for pointing me to it via your message (sorry for the Contact Us form difficulties!) and I will definitely pull a few quotes from it for my Newbie Breakfast presentation. Thank you, thank you! Look forward to meeting in Chicago and hugging you w/my flabby arms.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails