a(n all TOO) close encounter with irritable bowel syndrome, an inflated inferiority complex and my period.
Before I get into the moment by moment break down of my conference experience I think I should first preface this post by saying any and all general negativity derived cannot really be blamed on any one or thing other than myself.
This experience taught me, if nothing else, that I am not a particularly good social networker, either on or offline and although I think I might possibly one day be an a’ight blogger, I will never be anything close to an “elite” persona because it’s just. not. me.
I am pretty sure my perspective of the conference was different from that of most attendees. I didn’t stay at the hotel or attend any of the keynotes or parties.
Because of this?
I’m pretty sure I missed out on a large chunk of the experience. Again, nobody’s fault but my own. From the beginning I wasn’t really interested in attending parties or the immersing myself in the overwhelming social aspect of this event.
In retrospect, I guess that was my first mistake since so much of BlogHer is about hobnobbing and gettin’ down during off-hours.
Let’s do this shall we?
I start Friday morning off fairly well. I get up, have my coffee, get dressed and I’m actually out the door ahead of schedule!
My main goal is to attend all the available sessions so I can gain as much how-to-be a better blogger tids and bits as logistically possible.
There is a welcome breakfast followed by something called “Speed Dating, BlogHer-style” that I’m not all that keen on making it to NYC in time for. Knowing what I know now, my lack of interest in activities such as these should have probably been an early sign to me that I wasn’t going to get as much from this conference as countless others BUT I’m stubborn, so on we go…
Everything is going according to plan, I’m in the car driving up the turnpike, listening to a little Rilo Kiley for inspiration and good vibes when ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of a sudden… my innards start shouting Mayday! and I have nary a floatation device at hand.
If you know what I’m saying…
I’m talking this is the WORST and I do mean The. Worst. stomach pains I’ve ever had so far away from a toilet in-my-entire-life. I don’t have much recourse here but to take deep breaths and pray to a god I’m not so sure gives a shit about my GI problems.
The severe pains persist all the way through the Lincoln Tunnel up into Manhattan.
Have I mentioned that at this point I have fallen a bit off course and I’m now stuck in traffic on a street I shouldn’t have turned down in the first place?
Because I am.
So I get to the Hilton with some time to spare and I ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun to the bathroom where next to nothing happens. That’s right. Next to nothing. Let’s leave it at that. So whatever, I’m still on schedule and I didn’t crap my pants.
The first session is O.K. Kind of vague and over-generalized and initiate my feelings of inferiority in this particular atmosphere. It’s at this point where I first start to fear that: I do not belong.
Lunch feels like something out of the first day of highschool; shuffling my way into a large room cautiously glancing about for the sight of a familiar, or at least non-hostile, face.
I begin to feel as I often do when stressed and unsure: not hungry.
After lunch, or as I had – half of a 1/5 of a sandwich and 2 pieces of watermelon, I skip outside to partake in an activity often used as a crutch, security blanket or just plain god-awful but for whatever reason, unavoidable, addiction: smoking. I’m not proud to say that I still use cigarettes as a social tool but I never said I was perfect. Anyway, thank GOD for smoking because that’s where I start to feel the natural ease of fraternization return.
I often use the term organic when referring to situations that unfold in a natural, unforced way. I hate being fake or feeling fake or pressured to “perform” in order to adapt myself to large social settings. I’m not in the business of getting people to like me under false pretense. I am who I am and unfortunately (for me) that means I’m not all that marketable, at least not to those who aren’t willing to break through my crunchy exterior and the find the warm and gooey mess that lurks beneath my crackly shell.
Try not to take that last part too literally…
I did meet one person who seemed up to the challenge of my (apparently) prickly personality though I doubt I made a huge splash with most of the other folks at the conference. I’ve always been that person who is often pigeonholed as snobby or aloof when really I just hate small talk. Is that SO wrong?
Ugh. It is isn’t it?
So, instead of fitting in or making friends right off the bat, I usually come off as a strange awkward alien or I just make unintentional enemies. The honest to god truth is that of the (very few) people I am still friends with since my childhood I can’t think of a single one who upon first knowing me who just did NOT like me. Then again, I am a shitty friend so, I guess I fooled THEM!
So day one is over and I leave feeling at least a little better now that I had found ONE person who seemed to not want to flee in terror from my presence. I get seriously lost on my way back to the Lincoln Tunnel due to my having absolutely NO sense of direction (thanks, Dad!). I finally make it home, just a lot later than I should have.
Day two’s drive is EXPONENTIALLY better than day one, with no almost-exploding-bowel-syndrome or inconvenient slow-motion tours down 7th Ave.
On a Friday.
During rush hour.
Because that was fun.
I meet up with my new friend for a smoke before the first sessions of the day and already feel better than I did the day before.
I attend the session with Jenny the Bloggess, mainly because I think she’s cute and hilarious and a complete and total inspiration to me as both a blogger and a humorist and she proves to be all that and more. She is probably even more cute and funny in person even though I never thought it humanly possible or particularly fair to the rest of us. There are numerous times she has the crowd lol-ing in their seats and at one point I’m thinking someone might misconstrue the literal SCREAMS of laughter for screams of slaughter.
Apparently no one else was all that concerned…
As far as day two of the conference, this is the highlight of my day. Aside from lunch, that is. The rest of the sessions leave me feeling *kind of* depressed. I begin to feel more and more out of my element as the day wears on and being that it’s the bee’s birthday my mind is most definitely elsewhere.
I swear that in writing about this experience it was not my goal to bad-mouth or bash BlogHer. It just wasn’t really the right fit for ME. Had I been a bit more immersed in “the scene” or been a mom, or more of a business oriented woman of tomorrow, it may have been more impactful. In a good way. Instead I just felt like I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I discovered this thing called “Birds of a Feather” where you sign up on a list to sit with/meet like-minded bloggers.
Had I known about this sooner, I probably would have exchanged a lot more business cards…
All in all it was a learning experience and I did walk away with a lot more knowledge than I had to begin with but more than anything I learned that I just don’t belong with the BlogHer crowd. In a few years time? Perhaps. I think I would benefit from a smaller blogging offline network, one where I wouldn’t feel like SUCH a small fish in an all-encompassing ocean of internet experience and clique-ish-ness.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. I went there…
I want to wrap this up by saying that in almost every way BlogHer lived up to the expectations I set around it before I ever set foot in the Hilton. I knew it would be clique-y and miles above my head technically and professionally. The problem that I had was BlogHer didn’t exceed my expectations, which I had so hoped it would and probably all of us hope will happen no matter what situation we’re thrown into.
And, yet again, whose fault is this?
***please point fingers in direction of computer screen***