Yet I decided to attend this conference, all by myself.
I bought the ticket way back, and figured that I would have plenty of time to maybe learn some calming breathing exercises or something, and I'd be fine. Then I blinked and it was two days away.
I didn't make it to the party on Friday night, so I walked into the newcomer's meet up knowing absolutely no one. That can be intimidating for anyone - for me, it was kind of terrifying.
I did spend a lot of time wandering alone; I found that it was just too loud to sit and actually talk to people. That, and a lot of people seemed to already know each other and I didn't feel okay about barging into their conversation or standing around waiting for them to notice me.
I was lucky enough to get to hang out with the author of a blog I have a crush on* And I have to say that the author is totally crush-worthy too. In an entirely non-creepy, not stalkery, kind of way. I also got to meet a few incredibly smart and funny people; Schmutzie and the Palinode are hilarious, and Bon Stewart is way too smart for me. I now have crushes on all of them. Again, totally non-creepy.
I can't really decide my ultimate feelings on the conference; the sessions were good, the "mingling" was bad. I almost didn't go on my Sunday excursion, (partly because I was still feeling a little overwhelmed by all the new people, and partly because I managed to pick up a raging head cold along with the blog tips) but I'm really glad I did; I was much more comfortable in the smaller sized group.
A few things I wish someone had said to me beforehand:
1. Wear something comfortable: Nothing makes a bad day worse than realising that the pants you're wearing are actually three inches longer than you thought they were and having to spend the whole day hiking them up. If you want to get new shoes, get them a couple of weeks ahead of time and break them in around the house. I know, I know, this one was actually pretty obvious.
2. Try coming up with answers to commonly asked questions before you attend: I should have been able to answer the question "what do you blog about?" way more eloquently than "uh... you know... my kids... funny stuff ... uhm...sometimes books?" It may feel dorky to write something out and practice in front of the mirror, but you'll appreciate it when you know what to say, instead of just blurting out whatever random crap comes to mind.
3. Try to acquaint yourself with some fellow attendees before the event: I was kind of lonely for most of the day. There were so many people there that I never even saw the people that I had been chatting with online. If you know someone you want to meet is going to be there, make the effort to plan a meet up with them so that you're not kicking yourself later.
4. Take Pictures!: I went out to dinner with all these bloggers I'm crushing on, and have absolutely no pictures. Sad, really.
5. Don't beat yourself up: You're trying something new. You may love it, you may hate it, but at least you tried. So, maybe I called my husband in the middle of the day -- at a pay phone, because I was the only one at this social media conference without a cell -- and told him that I wanted to come home. And maybe I felt like I was going to cry. Or barf a little. After the call, I left the hotel and went for a walk. I decided to stay and hear the speakers I came to hear (Especially Susan Cain!). And I managed to stick it out until the end of the day and felt proud of myself because, even though I was uncomfortable, I did it. Whether you hop in the cab or take the walk, just feel good about the fact that you tried something new.
The only goals I really set myself for the weekend were "don't crap your pants, and don't pass out." While that may not seem like aiming high, I am thrilled to say that I did neither.
Would I go again next year? Not sure, but hopefully if I do, I'll remember my own tips. Especially the one about the pants.
Now I leave you with, perhaps, the best blog related advice I took away from this experience:
"Be okay with occasional crap. Just write. Find the gems in the crap."
- Haley Overland
*Don't look at me like that; it makes total sense to have a crush on a blog.