26 March 2013

Part 2. What I REALLY got out of #Blissdom.

In case you missed my quick overview of BlissDom - here it is

Today, I'm going to dive a little deeper. Okay? So bear with me.
This is a part that people don't talk about a lot, because well, people like to appear confident. And I say it like that because I think deep down, a lot of us aren't as confident as we act. So I think it's time to have an honest discussion about some hard-to-talk-about topics. After all, a very wise Jon Acuff, said that the most powerful resource in blogging, is honesty. And I completely agree with that.

So on we go... 

Let me first say this: For the most part, people at BlissDom are nice and the atmosphere is friendly. Most of the bloggers are quick to welcome you to their table, and invite you into their conversation. And the majority of people there are top-notch. And BlissDom, was mostly fun!

But BlissDom, it wasn't always easy and it wasn't always enjoyable.

Let me explain.

As amazing as the blogging community is, I would be a complete liar if I said I never compare myself (or my life) to others. It's not something I am proud of, and I am trying my hardest to stop doing that. But let's be real here, all of the warm fuzzy Instagram photos, happy blog posts, and perfectly constructed Pinterest boards have the ability to make anyone feel less-than adequate, know what I'm sayin?

When I bought my ticket for BlissDom, I'd never met anyone in person that was going, and I knew that would be extremely hard for me. Of course, there were bloggers there that I had been talking with via social media, but essentially, I was going in totally blind. Oh and I also knew that the speakers would be mediocre and that I wouldn't learn a ton.

So why the heck did I go?

My ultimate goal, my #1 reason in going to BlissDom, was to conquer my fear of rejection. Yes, I have a major fear of rejection. There's my secret and it's out in the open now. I hate this about myself because it makes me feel insecure. Well, this past year I decided to make a goal for myself, and that was to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks, stop comparing myself to others, and to take more chances.

Okay so back on topic. Going into this blogging conference, I knew that there would be times I would feel lost, or left out (one of my biggest fears!). There were a lot of bloggers that had either been to BlissDom before, and had already formed close friendships. Or groups of close knit bloggers that were hanging out together. Were there "cliques" at BlissDom. Yes. Was I intimidated? Yes.  There were absolutely times when I didn't know where I fit in.

Even though I loved my roommates to death, and probably could have clung to them -- it wouldn't have made any sense for me to just stick with them the entire time. That would have been too safe, and would have defeated the purpose of my going to Dallas. So a lot of times, I would go off on my own and try to meet people. And some of these times, I felt like I was on the outside looking in. And I hate that feeling.

But here is why it's okay.

I'm not naive. Even if you go to a blog conference (or something along those lines), completely confident, with an open mind, and a willingness to meet people -- you are naturally going to gravitate to people that you connect and relate with. And obviously, you are going to want to hang out with those people -- it's bound to happen. Even the most mature adult that goes out of their way to avoid being "clique-y", would have a hard time avoiding hanging out with the people they get along with the most, especially if they already know them. So as someone that was coming in as a BlissDom Newbie and didn't really know many people, this was really tough for me, not to know that many people. I mean, most of the time, I felt totally fine and was meeting new friends left & right, laughing and sharing stories about my life... and went on my merry way. But sometimes, in between all of those happy Instagram photos y'all saw this past weekend, there were moments of self-doubt and insecurity.

But here's the thing.

I made a very concerted effort to overcome my insecurities and let the experience stretch me beyond my comfort level. Any time I would feel alone, I would take a quick minute to gather myself, and I would find someone new to talk with. Whether I "clicked" with those people or not, is beside the point. The point was, that I was putting myself out there, and in turn, I was growing leaps and bounds, even if it didn't feel like it at the time. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but it's true. We determine our own worth, and it's up to US to show people who we are.

I guess I had something to prove to myself this year, and that was that I can overcome my insecurities. And I'm thankful that BlissDom gave me the opportunity to do that. Did I learn anything new and amazing in regards to blogging? Not so much. But what I did learn, is that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. When I let my guard down, and am completely myself, that is when I can make real, life-long friends.

So I'm here to say that if you are afraid to go to a blog conference because you're worried about "fitting in" or are insecure about what people might think - I get it. I felt the same way. But truth is, it doesn't matter what other people think, there will be people you click with and some you don't. The whole point of BlissDom is to strengthen each other, and this community. But how can we do that, if we don't at least try? It's hard to take risks, especially when we are way outside our comfort zone, but it's so rewarding when we do.

So the biggest takeaway for me? Learning that my experiences are what I make of them. If I want to be a better blogger, I need to take a chance and put my true self out there. If I want to be a better friend, wife, mother.... it all requires patience and sometimes I need to take risks. It will be hard, but it's worth it.

Some people have asked me if I will return to BlissDom next year. Truth? If you would have asked me that a few days ago, I would have said yes, because I truly did have a blast. But now that I've had a few days to think on it, my answer now is I'm not sure. Ultimately, I got what I wanted out of BlissDom this year, so would I have anything to gain next year besides seeing my BlissDom buddies again? (which, really, would probably be totally worth it)... but who knows, time will tell, I guess.


Wow so that was deep. Thanks for listening. whew. I have one more conference post coming and then I will stop cluttering your feeds up with that dang #blissdom hashtag ;-) Thanks for stickin' with me! I have some of the best readers, ever!

39 comments:

Stephanie said...

It was SO great to meet you in person - and like I told you there, I'm going to try to start commenting more! Blogging conferences are hard, yo. When it comes down to it, we're all just a bunch of gals running around and wanting to be liked, and feel apart of the 'team'. Some of us are better at faking it than others. I'm so glad you decided to come, and I'm so glad we got to connect!

Mrs. H said...

I have really loved reading your Blissdom recaps. I wasn't able to go this year, but I do think I would like to go next year. I Hinkle it's amazing that you put yourself out there so much. That is something that I will definitely have to put effort into if I attend. It is very intimidating.

Xo, b

Meg O. said...

Mandy, you are AMAZING! I am so glad that we got to talk, espeically a lot on Saturday. You are so incredibly sweet and you are SO brave for going without knowing anyone. I agree with you like 10000000000000%. I really appreciate the honesty in this recap!

Sarah Wilder said...

I love the honesty in this post! I've thought so many times about trying out a blog conference myself, but all the fears you highlighted here have also stopped me.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience!!

Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] said...

You're so brave, Mandy! I feel the exact same way. I was going to go to BlogHer, but had to pull out for a few reasons, but it makes me SO nervous sharing a room with people I've never "met" before and being away from my family, essentially with strangers all weekend! I'm not a very out-going person to strangers so it would be completely out of my comfort zone too...but I do have to start going to blogging conferences. Funny you say there were cliques. I find this normal to be cliques but another BlissDom update said there were NO cliques and I could see that blogger being in cliques! I've heard really mixed thingsa bout these said cliques at BlogHer in particular...which makes me scared. I'm not a "cool kid" by nature, I just try to get along with everyone that I can and I have my bloggy besties I've made...and don't follow certain people for that "clique-y" feeling I get even from being online! Anywho, world's longest comment over!

Natalie said...

YES YES YES! Your experiences at a conference are just that.. YOURS. If you go in thinking it's going to be horrible, it probably will be.

And? I only wish I had met you BEFORE Saturday night b/c you truly are one of the sweetest people ever.

lifeloveandgarlic.com said...

I love that you posted this, and I so enjoyed meeting you and chatting over the weekend! You, truly, made the conference feel a little less large!

I'm super shy and, um, can be a little awkward with the small talk... I was so impressed with you and how you pushed yourself to do more than you naturally wanted. I also love your perspective on the whole thing.

Trying to fit in as a newbie and make new connections (while feeling like you're on you're the only one without a tight nit group of blogging friends)was really hard and I wish I'd pushed a little more out of my comfort zone... who knows where I would have ended up. I wonder, somewhat, if going to a Blissdom in years prior, when everyone was in their first year would have made a difference? Just a thought?

I'm undecided too on next year, guess we'll see where I'm at -- though I'd say the positives outweighed the negatives! And meeting all the wonderful people, including you, definitely made an impact!

Thanks for sharing!

Alli Worthington said...

Before I open the show I hide in my room because I'm terrified. Every single year. I try not to throw up and remind myself that I do what I do because I want every woman to feel like the world is her oyster, to have a chance to build a network and have a great time.

I completely understand. I go to lots of events outside my industry and I always force a friend to go because if I have one buddy I'm ok. :)

It's really impressive that you came and did put yourself out there!

Love,
Alli

Libby's Life said...

Seriously... YOU have a fear of rejection?! No one would ever reject you! You're amazing. I love you + your beautiful heart. But you took the words right out of my mouth... I have a huge fear of being rejected! But I have been many times so that's where mine stems from. People just don't like me a lot of the time... I don't know why + it hurts! So I completely get where you are coming from in that fear but there is no way anyone would not love you!

Magnolia_Mom said...

Thanks for your honesty. I really enjoy your blog and hearing your stories of Blissdom is enlightening. I've always wanted to go to a blogging conference, but have never been sure it was worth the money. I would totally be in the same boat about not knowing anyone, ect. Kuddos to you for stepping out and conquering your fear!

Magnolia_Mom said...

Thanks for your honesty. I really enjoy your blog and hearing your stories of Blissdom is enlightening. I've always wanted to go to a blogging conference, but have never been sure it was worth the money. I would totally be in the same boat about not knowing anyone, ect. Kuddos to you for stepping out and conquering your fear!

Tara said...

I love honest posts. I fear going to photography conferences or blogging conferences because I'd probably sit in the hotel the whole time! Or eat by myself. Those are my fears.

Linds said...

I love this post! Thanks for being honest! I wish we could have spent more time chatting... I felt like I had SO many people I wanted to meet, and only got 3 minutes with each one of them. Obviously not enough time to really go deep :/

Kim Cunningham said...

I followed you and some of your roomies on IG during the conference, and I have to say that I almost got hives thinking about all the social issues, and stepping outside of comfort zones. It looked fun, and daunting. I'm still on the fence about trying a conference.

Heather said...

I am so surprised to read this recap, as I was always so impressed with your self-assuredness and ability to talk with so many different people. I was so jealous of how at ease you appeared to be in whatever situation we were in. I sought you out because you made me feel so comfortable!! I would have never in a million years thought you were dealing with the insecurities you mention because you were such an inspiration for so many.

I really do hope you return to Blissdom next year, as getting to know you was definitely the highlight of my experience. I hope to see you again friend!! xo

Anne U @ hot coffee mama said...

This sounds like something I should probably do sometime, it is so hard to get out of my comfort zone. Love reading all your blissdom stuff.

ExtraordinaryMommy said...

I completely get this. I did the exact same thing back in 2009. I didn't know a soul and had only communicated with a few online before attending. I was so nervous, but forced myself to walk up to people and say hello. I still do the same thing every time I attend a new event.

Good for you for stepping outside your comfort zone. I hope you think it was worth it.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Do you ever meet someone, and instantly want to just be around them, gravitate towards them, and find yourself wanting to be their BFF even though you hardly know them? That's how I felt about YOU! I enjoyed meeting you and found myself wanting to hang out with you more. Honestly, you seemed so POPULAR that you didn't have time to hang out with dorky me anymore. lol

I'm glad you had a great time and put yourself out there. I am not brave enough to do that! I cling to my roommates and friends and hate being alone. And I am literally TERRIFIED to go up and say hi to people I don't know. I have to give myself a pep talk beforehand just to go say hi to someone.

I love that you wrote this post. It is so real and honest. From my point of view you were quite popular and social and confident, so it is nice to see your vulnerable side and know how hard that was for you. You rock and I'm honored to call you a friend.

xo
Allison @ House of Hepworths

Molly said...

I feel the same struggles as you sometimes. I really like to be in my safe little bubble to avoid any feelings of rejection.

You, my friend, were instantly kind and sweet to me and I felt comfortable around you. I'm so glad I met you in person and look forward to meeting you again!

Courtney B said...

LOVE this post! You've got me thinking... I don't like to get out of my comfort zone! I don't know if I would be brave enough to face a weekend of not knowing a soul and having to make all new friends. I would be terrified of rejection!
But I NEED to get out of my comfort zone. It would be SO good for me to put myself out there! As terrifying as it would be, I really want to do something like this!
P.S. I wish you and I could meet! I know we'd be amaaaaazing friends, ha ha!

Jess Burrell - Save Your Fork There's Pie said...

*Slow claps* Wow. I literally could have wrote this myself. Reading all these awesome comments just goes to show that we are our own worst critics and need to give ourselves some credit. The blog world is cutthroat especially the mommy blog world! I'm attending my first blogging meetup next month and I was terrified until after I read this. Thanks for the confidence boost :) We do this for ourselves, no one else.
Cheers mama!

Neely said...

LOVEEEEE you

Ruthie said...

Thank you SO much for being real. Being a young blogger, I have always wondered if all of the 'popular' blogs feel the same way I do. :) Thank you SO much again for being just real.

{:miss v:} said...

What a great post. I mean seriously. I'm so glad that you took the approach of working on yourself and not what others did. That shows great character.

I haven't ever been to a blogging conference, you can almost hear crickets if you visit mine right now, but I think it would be fun.

I'd love to meet you in person someday. Blogging and photography is what we have in common and I'd love to chat with you about these things!

Stephanie Wolfe said...

i seriously heart you. i really enjoyed meeting you and spending time with you. i only wish i'd had more time!

Nikki said...

You are super brave! I don't think I could have done it and I consider myself an extrovert. In times like those I try to remember that everyone is so worried about themselves they don't have time to worry about you. Which is good and bad because it means no one heard that bad joke I made...but that we're all self obsessed ;) I think all bloggers have a lot to learn from you, you're biz saavy, an awesome mom and a beyond talented photographer. Pat yourself on the back once in awhile ;)

Running Backwards in High Heels said...

Girl. I thought you were instantly amazing. You are kind, sweet, and oh, so pretty! Traveling halfway across the country, knowing no one, takes some big ones, my friend. :) I am so glad I went this year, just for some of the amazing women I met-- you included!

Lisa Holman of XSBaggage and Co. said...

I've really enjoyed your Blissdom wrap up. I've never been to a blog conference, but know that uncomfortable feeling of putting yourself out there. Love this: 'We determine our own worth, and it's up to US to show people who we are.' You are one smart cookie! I'm 53 years old, and still trying to learn that and apply it to myself. :)

Jodi said...

Great post! Good for you for sharing your fears. I wish I had gotten to talk to you more at Blissdom. I had a good experience. I think it all depends on what your expectations are going in. Like you I was not expecting to learn a ton about blogging but I'm ok w/ that b/c I feel ok w/ where I'm at w/ my blog. I liked meeting so many amazing women and hearing the keynotes! Now if my swag package would just come in the mail!!! :)

Taylor Made said...

i liked you right before blissdom because of instagram and now i like you even more! i hope you do come back next year :)

MommaBird.net said...

Great post! I really liked it because after seeing all of your IG pics with you smiling with other bloggers, it hit home that we are all the same and inside we are all battling something. Though it would not be obvious from seeing your IG pics :)

My biggest fear with attending any of these blog conferences is that my blog is still relevantly small and I fear that when I approach anyone they wouldn't even know who I was. So maybe in a few years...

MandeeFoFandee said...

so thankful for this honest post! I am still pretty insecure with my blog. I mean, I'm confident with what I write, because ultimately I write it for me to look back on, but we all want to be liked, and that's the truth. I've never really had a large following, but that's because I've kinda sucked at networking (until now), so it's my own fault.

anyway, great post! so glad you put yourself out there. you're a talented writer and should NOT be worried about being left out. anyone who wouldn't invite you to their "clique" would be the one missing out.

Pride In Photos said...

I am going to something very similiar in Seattle in a couple of months. You have given me alot of food for thought on this issue.

Sarah Halstead said...

LOVE this Mandy! So awesome. I loved meeting you and rooming with you! Totally true about you get out what you put in.

Katie @ Chronicles of KT said...

I commend you for your honesty! This was a great post and I too felt much of the same feelings!! I felt like a list wandering sheep and my insecurities REALLY came out this weekend. It was so great meeting you you are incredibly sweet and brave for coming without knowing anyone. I was glad we were able to spend some time together. I have to say I always thought you seemed so confident the whole weekend and I'm SO SO glad I was able to meet you!! XOXO

Natalie Catherine of TheBusyBudgetingMama.com said...

Girl you are soooo amazing. seriously. loved this open honest post. I felt so much of the same way!!!! I'm so glad I went but I'm totally exhausted from talking and making the effort to connect and network in a room full of people I didn't know! You really were such a joy to chat with. I felt so comfortable with you like we were old friends.

Whitney H said...

I seriously loved you the first time I met you! I'm so glad that I was able to go to know you this past weekend. The fact that you went without knowing anyone is truly awesome. I totally applaud you for that! I don't know that it's something that I could ever do!

Adventures with Little man said...

Way to go girl! Overcoming a fear like that is hard! I would be petrified to go somewhere like that and put myself out there! Great set of posts.

Sprittibee said...

I would have totally hung out with you. If I had met you. ;) I was the girl with the camera on my face the entire time (that weighed more than my laptop bag).

Loved what you said here: "It's hard to take risks, especially when we are way outside our comfort zone, but it's so rewarding when we do."

Amen, sistah! Happy Easter! See you next year?! (Tell Alli and Barbara to pick TEXAS again!)