The first step of any introduction is always the hardest. Ok, well maybe that’s not always true because I have had some stellar awkward moments after the, “Hello, my name is Alia…,” but usually it’s true.
To avoid awkward moments in my middle school years, and ok, I admit it, even more recently than that, I appear distracted. This is the key to not seeming alone in an unfamiliar group or club. I would be searching my backpack for something, eyebrows knit in earnest concentration, while I rummaged about avoiding eye contact with those around me. Or I’d pretend to be working on something or make it seem like I was in a hurry and dash off to avoid being left out.
As you may have noticed from past posts, I have a thing (I’m working on it) about being needy or asking for help. It’s an issue.
But when you’re an 11-year-old girl wanting to belong, walking up and introducing yourself is pretty much the same as saying, “Please don’t reject me.” And since I wasn’t open to being rejected, I was busy, or pretending to be.
Vulnerability is hard and you’re always a bit exposed when you are meeting someone new, even as an adult. One woman had told of a blog conference she went to where she went up, introduced herself and offered her business card to which the other bigger blogger replied, “no, thank you. ” AWKWARD. But then, I thought about that. And the truth is, if someone is like that, I don’t want to know them anyway. They don’t deserve to read my blog and I certainly don’t want to have anything to do with theirs no matter how great they can write or design. Kindness goes a long way in my book.
So, when I was preparing for Blissdom, I addressed these thoughts in my mind and I came to a very freeing conclusion. I’m not that 11-year-old girl anymore. I grew up beyond the mean girls and the cliques and the quest for inclusion. I have a fabulous husband, wonderful kids, grace from God for all my mess and a passion as a writer to meet and connect with others. And it was from that encouraged, loved on place that I arrived at Blissdom.
And I thank God for that clarity of thought and vision before I left because I noticed when people looked busy. Although, instead of searching into their Guess backpack, they were texting into their phone, or wandering around doing the half mouth smile but never really engaging with anyone or staring at the hotel map, for a reeeeeaaaally long time.
And I knew, because that used to be me.
It only takes one person to say hi, and take an interest in you to make you feel you belong. And I was glad to be that person. Maybe it made the beginning a bit less awkward for someone. I saw several people who were so nervous, completely having the time of their lives by the second day. And the thing that was great about Blissdom was that I wasn’t the only one introducing myself to people who didn’t seem to know anyone. Most people were genuinely friendly and inviting.
I am not one for big crowds, and small talk with hundreds of people is beyond exhausting, but I already know I’m an introvert and I need alone time to function well and play nice. I took regular breaks and wandered around by myself or went to my room to sit and breathe and drink a coffee in between the sessions. I excused myself from the night events obscenely early and was in bed on granny time but it gave me enough solitude that the times I did meet other bloggers were exciting, not exhausting.
I also got to hear some dynamic speakers in their field. I attended two MeRaKoh Photography sessions and the woman is amazing as is her spectacular work. Who knew I would cry during a photography session so much?
I went to Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt, and my friend Tsh Oxenreider’s sessions on writing and developing a life plan and they all left me with things to ponder and add, and even a few things to disagree with. As is right in line with my feisty old self.
But I still think my favorite was the keynote by Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like, and not just because he gave us all a signed copy of his new book, Quitter. He had me laughing, prioritizing my family and blogging, and thinking about the platform and responsibility I have with my voice.
And even though the sessions were really good and I learned a lot from them and the community leaders, I still think my favorite thing about Blissdom was the relationships. I just met the most amazing gals. These women made my time at Blissdom really special with great conversation, a familiar face in the hall or at a table, or a super warm greeting.
- Laura Oyer from In the Backyard
- Megan Tietz from Sorta Crunchy
- Emily McClements from Live Renewed
- Maggie S from Accidentally by Design
- Ellen Evans from Bloom Maternity and Hip Vegetarian
- Andrea Howe from Four Flights of Fancy
- Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy
- Alison Little from aPearantly Sew (who was also my roomie the first night)
- Michelle from Some Girls Website
- Lindsay Hartz from A New Life
- Virginia from Geeky and Sassy
That kind of felt like an Oscar speech and I’m sure to have missed someone because there were countless other women I met, ate with, sat by, and traded cards with that I’m looking forward to getting to know online this year that I didn’t get to mention here.
Either way, the whole experience inspired and motivated, challenged and reassured me, to pursue what I love to do… This. Writing. Stuff.
So a huge heartfelt thanks to all you wonderful people I met, but especially to all my faithful readers, commenters, and cheerer onners (is so a word, trust me, I’m a writer) that make this such a blessing to do.