Now, I know that y’all are freaking SICK of hearing about BlogHer this past weekend, but it was such a major personal learning experience for me that I feel as though I would be careless not to share it with you, particularly in regards to my last What IF Wednesday post about truly valuing myself as a writer.
While I was at BlogHer, I experienced low self esteem the likes of which I never thought I would ever see again.
I felt small and out-of-place. I felt incredibly lonely. Most of all – I felt bad about my body.
I reverted back to the high school Marzipan – nervous, constantly feeling the need to apologize for my size and the amount of space I take up in a room, feeling like absolutely no one liked me for real, and that everyone was just being nice by hanging out with me.
I felt awful.
And the craziest part? I thought that I had kicked those old habits for good.
It is amazing how, even when you know that you are worthy and interesting, that being by yourself in a new environment, surrounded by 2,500 women, many of whom are far more successful than you AND better dressed, that you begin feeling stupid and useless and sad all the time. It is also amazing how standing up against the prospect of truly extending yourself, making yourself vulnerable, digging deep, and just introducing yourself to new people – you can feel unbelievably intimidated.
Small fish in a BIG pond.
It was everything that I could do not to hide in my hotel room all weekend and pretend it wasn’t happening.
But? It was. It was really happening. All around me, people were making connections, laughing and having fun with one another, exchanging cards, meeting their blog heroes, and pitching themselves left and right. I was doing the best that I could to stay afloat and resist curling into the fetal position.
I tried to remember all of the things that I tell myself about being the most amazing person in the room, faking it until you make it, loving yourself regardless of your size – but I felt like a mess in my flip flops in a sea of stilettos.
The truth is? When you are prone to a negative self image, you have to work twice as hard in moments of uncertainty, and it is just not easy. You have to remember why you are there, and that you are worth just as much as everyone else. You have to buckle down, turn up your mega-watt smile, and dig really, really deep – all while surviving on very little sleep and a flurry of activity.
Needless to say, I was at the center of my own personal vulnerability Perfect Storm. The elements were all there, lined up, ready to prey upon my insecurities, and I was reminded of all of the things that I work for, with the blog and in my real life, everyday.
And truly, I made some wonderful connections. When I forced myself to move without thinking or second guessing – I had a great time. When I just introduced myself to people, extending myself to them and secretly begging them to love me, often they did.
But, I cannot lie to you and tell you that it was easy. Being there was one of the most difficult personal challenges of my life. Â And I was terrified.
Luckily – I made some friends. And I am unbelievably grateful for you guys – you picked me up and included me when I was on the brink of a panic attack and allowed me to go to parties with you, sit next to you, smile and wave when I came across you in the hallways. And for that, I cannot thank you enough. This team of awesomeness includes (but is in no way limited to): Fitarella, Mandy from Harper’s Happenings, Morgan from the818, Amy (my wonderful roommate), Alex of Late Enough, Beth from Bethysmalls,Â Fuck Yeah Motherhood, The Next Martha, Jill of Babies Rabies, Mae from Parenting in Progress, Heir to Blair, the Unlikely Mama, Mrs. Jenna from Blogged Bliss, and Elly from BugginWord.
Highlights? Pedicab and dinner with Fitarella – best night ever. Jenny the Bloggess smelling my hair, proclaiming it to be the BEST smelling hair in the world, and forcing everyone else (in the bathroom – where else) to smell it too. Hanging at the bar with Mandy. SPARKLECORN and CheeseburgHer (I mean, come on! Cheeseburgers? At midnight – dream come true). Chatting with Katja on the train home. Receiving a fancy We-Vibe from Sandra of Toy with Me.
All in all – so very grateful that I went, even if only to realize how many demons I still have lurking deep down, and the reminder that I need to love myself just a little bit more than I realized when I’m feeling vulnerable and terrified.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you find the confidence and strength? Tips? Tricks?