So, the Blathering. I’m still, on the other side of the event, shocked that I not only signed up, but actually found a roommate, booked a flight, and went to New Orleans to spend the weekend with so many women I’d never met before. I’ve never been to any sort of blogging conference. The very thought of BlogHer gives me hives. (Well, if I got hives, which I don’t. So, metaphorical hives.) I will sometimes even get anxious about going to my friends’ Halloween party or our Superbowl Weekend/college reunion trip each year, because there are So! Many! People!, even though I know most of them.
Not gonna lie, the big group events were pretty difficult for me. I was anxious and uncomfortable and doubting this whole “find your people” thing. Actually, I was doubting that I had any people. My natural instinct was to go find a corner of the room in hide. Not because anyone wasn’t nice or welcoming… everyone was nice and welcoming… but because I just didn’t know how to go up to a group and insert myself into the conversation without feeling like an intruder. No one made me feel like I didn’t belong, except myself. It was really tough and I spent most of my time just hovering around other people’s conversations awkwardly or walking around and between groups aimlessly trying to look like I wasn’t completely terrified. If you’d asked me while I was at these big group events if I’d go back next year, I’d probably say no, simply because being with so many people was so exhausting and stressful I couldn’t imagine doing that again. Sixty people is a lot of people, more than I realized, especially since I’d only met two in person before and only known about 1/3 of the group before signing up. (Again, amazing that I signed up in the first place.) I spent much of the weekend feeling very overwhelmed and had to take some breaks from all the activities for some alone time just to regroup.
But then, there were these moments throughout the weekend that I keep thinking back on and smiling. Moments where it wasn’t me vs. a huge group of strangers, but where it was me and a couple of friends (old and new) just hanging out.
There was the Friday brunch, where Emily and I ended up at a table full of women I didn’t know and it turns out our table was THE best. (Sorry people at other tables, it’s true.) I swear, we laughed the most and the loudest and it was awesome.
There was Cafe Du Monde, where the delicious beignets and coffee were second to hanging out with fantastic group of ladies who were sweet enough to track me down and invite me to join them.
There were drinks at the Carousel bar, where I easily could have spent an entire afternoon sipping fabulous cocktails and chatting with these amazing and fun women.
There was Saturday night dinner where Kristie and Jess and I commiserated over the lackluster vegetarian offerings, but the conversation more than made up for it. (Not to mention Jess’s face when she realized she just bit into banana bread pudding. Hilarious.)
There was grabbing lunch and recapping the weekend with Caitlin at a small restaurant in a little alley on Sunday before heading to the airport together.
There was finally getting to meet in person (and hug!) women that I’ve “known” for years and confirming that they really are just that awesome.
I think I would go again, if only to be able to have more of those small moments. There were so many people I wanted to spend more time with (both those I already knew and those I’d met that weekend), but didn’t… partly because of the size of the group, partly because of our limited time there, but mostly because I was so anxious during the larger events. I don’t know that the big events would get easier for me the next time around, but I’m pretty sure they’d be worth it.