Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bissdom Canada 2012: Holy Crap.

I don't know if you've picked it up -- maybe from the fact that I'm scared of children's birthday parties -- but I'm not so good with crowds. Especially biggish crowds full of people I don't know.

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. 








24 comments:

  1. It's amazing, as I read through other people's Blissdom posts, to see that I was not the only one there alone and feeling awkward about the "mingling". And your tip about taking pictures is a good one. Someone I really admire was there, and I totally wish I had a picture with her. I thought of it, but then felt like an idiot asking so the moment passsed. Oh, and the comfortable attire is important. I wore terrible shoes.

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    1. I *still* can't believe I didn't take any pictures! I bought my shoes a few days before, when I realised all I had was running shoes or rubber boots. Of course, in retrospect, running shoes would've been fine.

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  2. I hope the fresh air at the Brickworks helped clear your cold. I thought you were really sweet and thoughtful, and it would have been great to meet you sooner. This was my first conference, too, and I was determined to make the most of it. I talked to anyone who'd listen! If you go again, don't be afraid...you're worth talking to. :)

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    1. Sadly, the cold is persisting; so glad I went though. What a beautiful spot, and I never even knew it was there!

      Thanks, Rae, you too! Maybe I'll see you next year? :)

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  3. These were the best tips. Number 5 is my fave.

    http://truthfully.ca

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. :) It's a good tip - hard to do though. :\

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  4. I am so proud of you that you went! Well done!

    Do you suppose I could attract more readers if, when people asked what I write about, I just answer "women's prisons?"

    Just a thought.

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    1. Thanks, Marianne! :)

      Heh... I don't know, give it a shot and let me know!

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  5. Awesome. #2 is so true. I messed that up TONS. Just see me on Marilyn Dennis. UGH.

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    1. I can't believe how hard it was to try and talk to people about myself. You'd think that's the one topic I'd have a good handle on. :P

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  6. great post, Jessica! It was sooooo big .... and I felt sooooo small! Thanks for huddling with me in the re-charge lounge at the start of the day .... we'll take them by storm next year!

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    1. You're very welcome - thank YOU! It was so nice to run into someone with a familiar name right away. Heh... I'll see you there. :)

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  7. I think most of us felt awkward. I knew one person in real life before the conference, and had crossed paths and exchanged hellos with a handful of others. I just get reminding myself that most everyone feels this way. I loved being made to get out of my comfort zone and introducing myself to all sorts of people.
    Your tip # 2 is great! My answers sounded identical to yours.
    Try again next year....you'll have so much more experience to draw on then.

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    1. I think it will be easier next year if I go, just because I have some sort of idea what it will be like. And knowing a few more names to look out for won't be bad either. :) It's too bad that it wasn't a day longer though; just as I was starting to peek out of my shell a bit, it was time to go home.

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  8. I'm so glad you went! This sounds exactly like my first blogging conference. The subsequent ones were much better.

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    1. Well that gives me hope for next year :)

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  9. I'm an extrovert that usually doesn't have a hard time meeting new people but before my first BlissDom (2010), I almost cancelled out. I was scared. I imagined all these women who were totally my heroes in the blog world being so awesome and that they'd all know each other and me feeling like a nobody who only knew one person, who I stuck to like glue. But what I found was a fantastic community who understood me, who spoke my language and totally got my need to have my phone in my hand at all times.

    My tip going into year 2 was to wear comfortable pants, there's nothing worse than 3pm belly bloat.

    Year 3 I finally listed to the tips about wearing comfortable shoes!

    It does get easier with practice. :)

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    1. I'll have to keep going back then! ;)

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  10. Ummm, I totally have very creepy crushes on all those people you mentioned. I too hung out with them all and have no photographic evidence.... Sad

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    1. Isn't it though?? What kind of blogger goes to a blogging conference and doesn't take any pictures?! Me. *sigh*

      We'll have to remember for next year - TAKE SOME FREAKING PICTURES!

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  11. Kudos to you for having the courage to go! Also, love your blog crush expression :-)

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  12. I completely agree with you about the excursions being better because of the smaller groups. I found it to be one of the best parts of the weekend.

    #3 is what really made the weekend for me.

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    1. It's just so much easier to get to know people in smaller groups like that - and you know you already have the common interest in whatever excursion you're on.

      I'm going to try harder to meet up with people next year. I think feeling like I already knew someone would vastly improve it for me.

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