Where Social Media meets Social Anxiety.

{above: Jenna & Jen deface an Ace of Cakes masterpiece while Ryan snaps this pic.}

So a couple of weeks ago now I packed up my baby, my yellow heels, and enough xanax to sedate a small elephant, and I did the previously unthinkable.  I went to BlogHer. {I know, I know…I’m obviously a huge dork, so let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way right now.}   And if you don’t follow blogging and blog-related-things as sport, then let me apologize for what is about to be a post that is sort of indirectly about blogging itself.   And tweeting about blogging.   And blogging about tweeting about blogging.   Oy.   So I’m sorry for that.   But it is also sure to be a post filled with anxiety and self-doubt, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you may want to stick around.

To be brutally honest, in the months leading up to BlogHer, I had really really started to dread it.   I bought my ticket back in February, and then life continued, and then all of a sudden I was supposed to be getting on a plane to New York with my not-quite-ten-month-old and no free peanuts.   And when I got there, I was going to do what exactly?   Talk about blogging?   I write so I don’t have to talk!   It was all so counter intuitive!

And so I had a full-blown panic attack.   A rather prolonged one.    Like, two months long.   I didn’t want to go.   I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I was thinking.   I’m not socially inept or anything, I’ve just never exactly been a participator. And I was starting to get the feeling that going to a Conference filled with 2400 women (all undoubtedly better than me at something) was going to require participating in a BIG way, or being left in the dust.   I could ramble on for pages about the insane fates my anxiety convinced me I’d be meeting at BlogHer, but I’m sure you can let your imagination paint that picture for you.   Hell…a quick google search of past events will paint that picture…I’d read account after account of wild grabs for swag, high school hierarchies rearing their ugly heads, bloggers generally behaving badly, and after about 10,000 posts like that, it got to me.   It got under my skin and had me shaking in my flip flops as I forced myself to board that plane to New York.

And walking into the Hilton the following afternoon wasn’t any easier.   What if no one talked to me?  What if no one could understand me when I said the name of my site?  (My Mom says I mumble.)  And WHY oh WHY didn’t I come up with an “elevator pitch” for The818?   And also WHAT THE HELL IS AN ELEVATOR PITCH!?!

The lobby of the hotel was massive and signs for the Conference were covering every visible surface.   All around me, women huddled in groups, badges proudly displaying their twitter handles, exchanging business cards (immediately prompting me to realize I had left mine in Brooklyn.  Morgan Conference Fail #1 of many.)   Women older than me.   Women thinner than me.  Women with fancy sponsors.  Women with fewer split ends than I have.  I feared them all.

But then I met Jenna.   I mean, “met” is such a relative term when you’re dealing with internet people.   I’ve known Jenna for about a year and a half, but we’d never actually met in real life… we’d never even so much as Skype-d.   But still, when she opened the door I knew her face immediately, and months worth of apprehension melted away because I was in the presence of friends.   That’s kind of the spectacular thing about the internet.   Jenna is my friend.   We’d never uttered a word to one another, but we were all caught up.    All caught up on taste in dresses, and mommy woes, and even other, private, non-blogged things that friends share, and there we were standing next to each other in the bathroom mirror, chattering a million miles a minute, lamenting our mutual state of growing-out-bangs-ness like we’d be doing this for years.   But at the same time, there were so many things about Jenna that I could never have known via the internet.   Like she just makes you want to be mischievous, and has freakishly tiny wrists.  Oh, and a hardcore Minnesota accent, which gives her special brand of sarcasm just an added little twist that I adore.

In fact, that was really the thing for me about BlogHer.   I mean, the sessions were great, the speakers inspiring, I went to fabulous events and felt wined and dined, and I learned and I learned and I learned and I learned, but the thing that I really took away from from trip to NY was how wonderful REAL LIFE is.

I mean, these people. THESE PEOPLE who I’ve read and I’ve laughed with, and I’ve struggled with, and I’ve envied ’til my face turned green, they are REAL PEOPLE out there in the world, and they are awesome in ways that you just can’t absorb via the fiberoptics.

Like, Mandy has an infectious laugh, and insanely great hair, and she wears her heart on her sleeve.

Beth Anne is really that easy to talk to, plus she’s tall, like super tall, has gorgeous teeth, and the most amazing southern drawl you’ve ever heard.

Lindsey’s ability to connect people doesn’t end on the internet, she’s like a 5’0″ bolt of social lightning, and it’s an amazing thing to behold.    As is her incredible rack.

Mara just…glows.

Kacia‘s optimism is communicable, and creativity just plain oozes out of her.

Being with Mae makes you feel like you’re in on the secret, no matter what it may be.  Jennifer blew my mind by handling sessions while appearing to effortlessly juggle her one month old (the same can not be said for me with miss D, who had to be bribed with bananas to stay quiet while we copped a squat together on the floor at the back of The Bloggess‘ session) and Jill is so classy you think she might have been ripped from the celluloid of a Katharine Hepburn movie.  Allison will charm your pants off (but then make you put them back on because she is wholesome like that.)  And oh my god, Jen.   There are no words for what a force of nature The Next Martha is in real life.

I also got to participate in a powerful video and photo op with ten women who, like myself, are survivors of postpartum depression.  (I know I haven’t talked about that much on here, but… there it is.)   {If you’re going through something similar, you need to go check it out HERE.}

I could go on and on and on and on and on about the people I met (like Katherine, who smells like shampoo, and just makes you feel like everything is going to be okay) and all the kool-aid I so obviously drank, but from the length of this post it looks like I already have. Oops. Still I can’t say it enough ~ I NEEDED THAT TRIP. For so many reasons…for community, and understanding, and identity, and empowerment, and most importantly REALLY GOOD WRITING (see?  so much Kool-Aid.)  I needed that trip, and I couldn’t be happier that I went in spite of how hot my ears burned whenever anybody in real life asked me what I was planning on doing in New York.

Also, perhaps one of the lovliest side effects of the entire adventure was this:

Dee got to know her Auntie Lindsey.   And I got to spend some quality time with her.   And for that I could not be more grateful.

Also this:

We got to visit late into the night with family who I miss dearly.

…And this:

It wasn’t nearly long enough to spend with Mommas A&K, but Katie got some snuggles, and then Magnus was too Swedish and mustache-less to smile for the camera. {Meanwhile, I was too drunk on mimosas and pancakes to take a decent picture.}

So that’s it.   BlogHer in a nutshell.

{A really long, rambly, sappy nutshell, but a nutshell nonetheless.}

Feed Me Seymour