Image Credit: Neil Kramer
“Are you looking forward to your trip?” my husband asked sleepily as we turned in for the night.
“No, not really,” I answered.
I wish I could say that I was excited about my trip to BlogHer ’14 in San Jose, but the truth is, I just wasn’t. A combination of a wretched year full of rejection writing wise, and my own insecurities, played heavily into this. Of course, the fact that I was/am in the middle of a depressive episode doesn’t help. Going to the grocery store is a chore. Interacting for five days with other people, constantly? Fuck me.
But, I went, even if I was kicking and screaming internally.
This story, if you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook, has a happy ending.
1. Pathfinder Day Killed It (in a good way)
During the afternoon session we were given 30 minutes to write our stories, and then we discussed how to use them to ignite change.
It was awesome. I know some didn’t have the experience I did, but it was the highlight of the conference. It wasn’t even the fact that the woman beside me worked for Planned Parenthood and told me that I needed to work with them after she heard bits and pieces of my experience with teen pregnancy.
The panelists guiding the session were thorough, prepared, and they complemented each other beautifully. Dannielle of Everyone is Gay and Rae of Diva Living With Aids had a plethora of fantastic advice and experiences to share, but their own advocacy is impressive on it’s own. Please check them both out, they are worth every second of your time.
2. Yeah, I’m Fat. But I’m Also Fucking Awesome.
Any social event causes me to begin internally assaulting myself with a barrage of insults regarding how I look. In my mind, there is no way people aren’t looking at me and thinking, “My God, she is so fat.” I mean, I do it every single damn morning, so why wouldn’t these seemingly perfect looking women do the same?
That’s what we call projection, my friends. Instead of crawling into the den of self-loathing, I walked out, with my fatness, and decided, “Fuck anyone who wants to judge me for how I look”. So that’s what I did. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have moments (I did), but I figured, if I saw everyone for who they were and not what they looked like, I could and should expect the same.
It worked, and now I just need to find a way to apply this to my every day life. (Ashley Garrett of Baddest Mother Ever sums up the mirror and conference self-doubt beautifully).
3. When You Plan For What You Want To Learn, You Find What You Need
Last year, I floated, unsure of what I was looking for. This year, I knew what I wanted to learn. Every session I attended gave me a piece of my own writing puzzle. One session told me I needed to find an agent for a book deal, how long my novel should be, and how long my proposal should be – I needed that. The Writing Lab with Whit Honea made me realize that I need to put my experiences into fiction form rather than memoir, and that I just need to write (obvious you’d think). Liz Henry sat me down at breakfast and said, “What are you doing to get your writing elsewhere? How can I help you?”
Every time there was a chance for me to learn from someone’s experience, I sopped it right up like a biscuit accompanying soup.
4. Canadians Are Fucking Awesome
I think this can stand alone.
5. I’m Really Not A Brand Blogger, and I’m (still) Okay With It
The Expo was fun, but I didn’t hand out a single business card. I did participate in the picture contests, but later that night, I took most of them down. I didn’t even take much of the beloved “swag”. I wasn’t interested because that’s not why I went to BlogHer. The highlight of the expo were these moments:
L to R: Life With Roozle, Stop, Drop And Blog, SassyMonkey, So Tabulous and myself
Jenna from Stop, Drop and Blog
6.The People Are Amazing,
Yes, there are cliques. You won’t be BFF’s with a blogger you love and there will be some disappointment. But, maybe you’ll walk up to someone and tell them you love their resting bitch face and click, just like that. Maybe you’ll just sit at a table with someone and find you need to know more about them. Maybe you’ll sneak out of the lunch keynote to charge your phone and end up having a wonderful conversation about how you share your story without sharing someone else’s at the same time. Maybe you’ll wind up at a table with popular bloggers, and discuss how to handle the uglier side of the internet. Maybe someone you’ve admired for a long time will tell you your bangs are adorable and deem you “the cute bang girl”. Maybe you’ll awkwardly tell someone how you didn’t introduce yourself to them last year because you were scared. Maybe you’ll awkwardly correct a blogger who you think said your name wrong, only to find out that she was saying her own, but then when you ask her a question about writing a book, she’ll give you her number and tell you to text her (and she meant it).
And, if you are super lucky, you’ll find a group of women that just get you, accept you and don’t mind if you say fuck too much.
7. Blogging Is NOT Dead
There are people who have been screaming that blogging is on it’s way out. That it’s not cool, or relevant. Is it changing? Yes, but that’s the nature of these things. We should expect evolution. We should expect that our platforms might change, and look different than they did even just two years ago. This does not equate death.
Bloggers are writers, and we will find a way to write, even if the environment changes. Stop trying to put us in an early grave, ya’ll.
8. When I Grow Up, I Want To Be…
All weekend, I kept recalling that eight year old girl who filled an entire notebook with chapter after chapter for her Language Arts assignment. With no pictures. I remember how she poured herself into those pages, her scratchy eight year old printing filling each line. I remember when that same girl won a Remembrance Day poetry contest for the county. Writing saved her.
Writing still saves me. I still want to be her. I want to fill the world with writing. I want to share my writing, and I want you to share yours. The community that is created because we bravely share our stories is one I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. BlogHer 2014 reestablished, after a year of asking myself, “Am I done with this?” that in fact, I am not. And I doubt I ever will be.
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Thank you to Lisa Stone, Jory DesJardins, and Elisa Camahort-Page for giving us this platform. Thank you to all of the employees behind the scenes of this conference. Your hard work, love and devotion was displayed beautifully.