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.
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