This past weekend, I went to my first blogging conference – BlogU – which took place at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
The conference was fantastic. And scary. And fun. And nerve-racking. And amazing. And overwhelming. And everything I expected. And less. And more.
Please, allow me to explain.
In my “public relations” life, I have been to dozens of conferences. Easy peasy. No problem. I’m now an almost 20-year veteran of the PR business world. I like this world. For me, it’s comfortable. It’s safe. It’s professional; not usually personal. But, when it is personal, it’s because I have worked with the same people forever and they are like family.
On the other end of the spectrum, in my “blogging” world, I sit safely behind the façade of a computer screen. Usually, in my sweatpants with the madness of my home life in the background. When I write, I am simply me – usually while talking with my husband and dealing with various requests from multiple children in-between the sentences I am so desperately trying to string together before someone else needs my attention.
Now for my “blog conference” life. Mixing my private passion for writing with Real. Life. People. RUH-ROH! … said in a Scooby Doo voice.
Thanks to Stacia at www.driedonmilk.com for the above group photo.
The BlogU Faculty was comprised of women whom I respect and admire for their outstanding expression of words, their wildly successful books and, of course, their unrivaled knee-slapping humor. Seriously, these women were The Beatles of my blog world. The sessions they taught were exactly what I hoped for as a student. As in, Best. Classes. Ever.
There was a cupcake bar and a beer tasting event. Awesome.
However, I can’t explain how far I was out of my element. I didn’t just step out of my comfort zone — I. JUMPED. OUT. In real life, I don’t make small talk. I don’t introduce myself to strangers. Basically, I don’t speak unless spoken to. I am just not that type of person – I just can’t do it. This weekend was no different.
And even though I didn’t talk with too many people or get in too many group pictures with these women who seemed to make instant friends with one another, I am so happy I went to the conference. I am proud of myself for stepping way out of the familiar.
The chance not taken is the opportunity lost.
(I think I just made that up. Maybe I stole it? Either way, great quote!)
Why didn’t I take pictures with these women I admire? They would have smiled and said “cheese” happily as they did with everyone else who wasn’t too awkward to ask.
Why didn’t I insert myself into conversations when I clearly had at least two cents to share?
Why did I go straight back to my room at night instead of hanging out and getting to know everyone?
Do you see a theme here?
Bottom line: This conference was 100% worth attending – if for nothing else, for the incredible amount of knowledge I took away from the funniest, been-there ladies of blogging.
The moral of my story is simply…don’t be afraid to take a chance, go out of your comfort zone and step away from the familiar. As difficult as it was for me, it was also one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. And I look forward to continuing to challenge myself, and make the best use of every opportunity the future holds. No matter how out of my comfort zone, or awkwardy dressed in 80s prom gear, complete with a pink wig.