I am leaving to go to a women’s blogging conference today. Blissdom will commence Thursday, after 700 women of all different backgrounds, writing styles, blog niches, and outfits converge on Nashville,Tennessee. The twitter boards are alive and jumping with nervous anticipation and excitement. And fear. So much fear.
Many of the women in my #Blissdomnewbies group have never been to a conference like this. Some, like me, haven’t been blogging for long at all and are still learning everything. Some have done it for years, and some have many years behind them but are just now starting to desire more from the blogging experience. A lot of us don’t know another soul. I’m lucky enough to have a bloggy friend I’ve made this year who will be there and that has given me some assurance that I’m not completely alone in a brand new city amidst a sea of women tweeting into their iPhones.
Watching these twitter boards and the conversations that flow out of them I’ve noticed a few things, and boy, do I relate!
1. Women really do want to belong.
We want to have community, we want to be one of the girls. Even the introverts (like me) want to make connections with other people who get us. Who understand that we live to write. It’s a part of me that God has created and I as I am trusting Him, I’m feeling his pleasure. It’s so important for all of us to feel connected to each other both in what we are passionate about and also with people who are different from us that we can learn from. Community is essential no matter what you do with your life.
2. Women are afraid of other women.
Maybe it’s the classic mean girls scenario that plays in your head, or the traumatic sleepover you went to in fifth grade where your “friends,” put your underwear in the freezer. Girls can be mean. When my son used to squabble with his cousin/best friend, we always knew it because someone got punched or pushed. It was all out and aggressive and then it was over. Both of them knew they were mad and both expressed it, albeit not in the best way. At least it was quickly remedied. Girls tend to one-up each other. They don’t punch each other but they jab with snide comments or the obvious exclusion of the ostracized girl. The passive-aggressive pathology of girl relationships is astounding in our culture. They have the better outfit or the better hair, and they’re gonna make sure you know it too. Some women may still be this way, but I’d venture to say that most are not. And if you see someone being a mean girl, go out of your way to be a nice one. I admit, I’ve been really hurt by girls in my life. But these past years have brought slow redemption and I am open to friendships with women where I used to be closed off. Although, there a lot of worries about fitting in at a conference like this while everyone else is witty and dazzling and you feel like you might win the award for most awkward presence in the room, most people have admitted to feeling the exact same way.
3. Women compare… A LOT.
We do. We judge and rank and profile. We hope we’re not on the bottom of the rung. We wonder if we are still a blogger if we only have a few readers, most of whom include our own family, or if we have a voice if we’re not married yet or don’t have kids. We wonder if anyone really cares what we’re saying. We wonder if the “big” bloggers out there are going to shun us with their cool big bloggerness ( yes, that is absolutely a word.) We wonder if our hair is ok, if our clothes are right, if we pack too much or too little. We wonder who’s going to wear what so we can also decide. We compare. But the truth is that we’re all so different. We all have something intrinsically unique about us and we all bring something different to the table. Be you and be great at it! You’ll never fail.
4. When women get to connect in community, move past insecurity, fear, and comparison, we have a blast.
I already know I’m going to have a blast because I really don’t feel nervous anymore. I worked through all the “oh, I’m just a small blog… ” and am truly embracing it all. I’m certain there are going to be women who still feel insecure and are comparing and I say, ” I want to find them and make them feel great about themselves.” I am one of the last people to ever offer false flattery, ask my sister-in-law who went shopping with me once; I am honest. I’m not going to go around passing out fluffy comments just because, that’s not me. But because of my introversion, I am good at getting to know people and really looking deep for that special thing about them that makes them worth getting to know and maybe they’ll see that thing in me too. I’m hoping to make some great new relationships.
Whether you are attending a blogging conference or not, women feel these things. Make an effort to encourage someone in something you genuinely admire about them. Be you, and don’t worry about the rest. So bon voyage, I’m off to be Alia. I’ll be updating small picture posts for the week so stay tuned for all my experiences at my first blogging conference.