Conference thoughts for the girl on the edge.

Last weekend I went to my very first blogging conference. I know they have been going on for a few years, but this is the first one I went to for a variety of reasons. I wanted to share my experience, and while it's true it relates only to this conference specifically, I'm betting what I share here is fairly general for all conferences. So, if you don't feel like you quite fit in or belong, but there's a conference you keep thinking about, I'm going to tell you why you should go.

1. If you don't think you should go because you don't know anyone...

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I get this as a legitimate excuse, but it's still an excuse. I knew 2 people well before I went to this conference. I was scared out of my mind and stared at the crowd of people wondering how I was ever going to fit in. Being an introvert and shy on top of that the mixer hour made me want to go back to my room. But I stayed where the people were, and guess what happened!? Someone came up and talked to me. And I had a conversation. Which led to another conversation. And while I didn't know a lot of people before hand, I know a handful better now, and I would have missed out on knowing these girls had I not gone to Declare.

2. If you think your blog doesn't really fit in anywhere...

Friends, I have been blogging for 10 years or so, and I get this. I do. I have floated out here on the peripheral of blogdom for a long time. There is part of me that is okay with that, but when the question came up, "What do you blog about?" it was hard. "Everything under the sun," didn't seem to cut it, so I began listing things instead. Guess what happened!? In the process of my listing, almost every time the listener would stop me on one specific topic, or their eyebrows would lift when I mentioned it, or an entire conversation would come out of it. And they were excited. And I got even more excited. And now I think my blog has more direction coming to it. Not that different of a direction, but more focused. I don't know how long it would have taken me to get to that point had I not gone to Declare.

3. If you think you would rather die than talk to a stranger...

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I get it. Like I said, I'm an introvert with a side helping of shy. It's hard for me. My big step was walking down the sponsor hall and back. No, I didn't talk to anyone the first time, but that was huge for me. By the last free time, however, I knew it was now or never and guess what happened?! Not only did I speak to a few sponsors about their items, and come away with some amazing opportunities, but I also spoke to a few women at the conference I had spoken to online. It was hard. Some went better than others, but I did it, I tried, I spoke, and I didn't die. I felt a little empowered and stronger, and God allowed that to happen because I went to Declare.

4. If you are worried you are going to make a fool of yourself...

This is a hard one. So bare with me....

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There she sat in the large high backed chair and no one was around her. She was checking her phone, so it was an excuse to just say it and move on. I truly began to feel as if I had been stalking her, and I didn't want her to start getting scared of me. So I slowly walked up, pardoned a moment of her time, and began babbling all over myself. I may have drooled. I told her how much I enjoyed her writing, how long I have been reading her blog, mostly lurking, and thanked her for everything she was sharing online and at the conference. While speaking another keynote speaker stepped into the picture and sat at the large high backed chair next to her. I knew it was time to exit, but I just was having problems doing so. "Thanks, I'll go now." I took a step away, and then side stepped back. "I just knew if I didn't say something to you, then it would mean I was a true stalker." As we all laughed, (and guess what happened.....) I curtsied and then walked away.
Did you catch that?? I curtsied in front of Mary Demuth and Jeff Goins. Oh good Lord in heavens, I guess they needed a laugh. I did it as I was leaving so I just kept going, and I heard them laugh behind me and thought, "Well, that's that." I didn't think I would become instant friends with her, I hope I didn't scare her, but I pretty well made a fool of myself and survived. So, whatever you do at the conference you go to, I bet you don't curtsy. So, see, you can't do worse than I have already done at Declare.

5. If you're scared people will group up into friend groups and you will be alone...

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I'm going to be honest with you. THIS WILL HAPPEN. It happens mostly after the conference is done and people don't want to say goodbye. I hung around thinking maybe I could talk with someone then, staying in public spaces long after I wanted to just to try it out, and I didn't talk to anyone. But you know what, that was okay. It really really was. This was time for friends long apart to share that last bit of news, thoughts, and love and I can not take that from them. It would have been awkward had I tried to butt into one of the circles, and I do know my limits. But guess what happened? I went back to my room, and thought about all the wonderful people I met and things I had learned because I went to Declare.

So, I'm not saying go to every conference imaginable. I may only be able to do this one ever, though I hope I can go to this one next year. Who knows, after a year of talking and sharing with people I met there when I go I'll have more necks to comfortably hug as well as get to know even more people. Do you want to go to a conference but feel as if you just aren't in the "in" enough?? Go anyway. The women will help you be brave with their love, God will give you strength, and you will walk away with so much more than you can ever imagine.

Comments

  1. Oh, I love you. That is all. Thank you for the honesty! The thought of a blog conference terrifies me because I too am a blogger "on the fringe." If someone at a conference asked what my blog is, no one is going to be like "oh that's you?!?" lol

    I would be the one doing the curtsy and standing outside the "friend groups." You and I would be great friends.

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    1. LOL NO ONE new me except a few who recognized me from my frenzied posts on the facebook group for the conference. SO thankful they did that! LOL

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  2. So glad you went and we met in RL. This was truly a good conference this year! and guess what? almost everyone has those feelings at first- well, true confession time for me, most all the time! New people are a challenge for the introvert in me! and, I wish someone had written a post like yours before I went to my first conference!

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    1. Thanks sweetie! I'm so glad you went, and we got to meet face to face, as they say. :)

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  3. Oh my dear friend . . . I am SO SO SO SO SO SO happy that we were able to connect. I LOVE your "curtsy" story.

    And let me tell you -- it seems on the outside that it might be butting in to join in the little groups, but it isn't. (And I know this from my years of introvertedness and shyness ... God did some amazing things in me this weekend.) Hearts are knitted together so completely and brilliantly and I know that on my part, if I had seen you, I would have dragged you into whatever group I was in!! Just sayin'.

    *hugs* and love. And all that.

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    1. LOL You probably would have. I'm glad we were able to connect, too!

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  4. Great post! It's true that the best things happen outside of our comfort zone. Congratulations to you for taking those steps. I would feel exactly the same as you, if I went to a conference like that. Part of me would LOVE to go, the other part would want to run the other way, so I truly can relate to you. By the way, your blog is one of my favorites.. I have had to cut out how many blogs to read consistently, but yours is in my top 10. :)

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    1. Oh, thank you! How kind of you to say that, and thank you for letting me know. I'm all verklempt!! :D

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  5. Ummmm so I think Allume may be the one thing that darn near kills me but will be worth it anyway for these reasons alone! Thanks for sharing. I doubt I could have mustered up the courage to fawn and curtsey but I did have that similar feeling when I met Annie Downs for a girls conference we hosted... Truly, I was geekin' out all over the place! Got to remember that these folks put their panties on one leg at a time too!

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    1. LOL It wont kill you, but I DO understand! You'll have a great time. Apparently I am a huge fan girl, and it's a sad sad thing. *giggle*

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    2. Loretta, you just find me if at any point you need a hug, pep talk or smelling salts (i.e. coffee) at Allume just hunt me down!! :)

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  6. Stacey, you are taking this Brave Girl thing serious sharing that you court died to Mary & Jeff! I was laughing out loud picturing it. You now have the perfect opening next time you cross paths with either of them!

    I loved this and anxiously await our time to be in the same place - conference or not!! Hugs and High Fives!!!!

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    1. :) I'm trying. Always grateful for His strength through my weakness, of course! (Though it makes me laugh that spell check changed it to court died. I did about die! LOL)

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  7. I've never been a big fan of conferences. I've been to several with my non-profit work. There's always a bit of anxiety going in, but I always connect with someone. They do usually inspire, give me a shot in the arm. I'm glad you made it through! I'm becoming more of an introvert, and I'm not sure I would attend a blogging conference, but you never know!

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    1. I said the same thing a year ago, so you never do know. Life surprises us all the time!

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  8. I am sooooo thankful you came to Declare, Stacey. And sooooo disappointed I was too frenzied to get to chat with you. Proud of your boldness and taking steps of faith. Look forward to getting to talk with you next year. *wink wink*

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    1. Thank you for doing so much to make the conference happen. It was more than I could have imagined, and I'm so glad I went.

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