I attended Blissdom 2012 last weekend, a social media conference targeted at women. There were approximately 500 women and 5-10 men in attendance, a ratio I was comfortable with initially (bawdy mental high fives and all), but in practicality it was a bit overwhelming.
This conference does wonders for connecting women across Canada and establishing and growing a community of like minded individuals. These are bloggers, mad tweeters, entrepreneurs, professional writers of all topics and, according to a fascinating presentation from Susan Cain, the majority of them are introverts. Including me.
Unlike some of the other male bloggers at the conference, I hung around the edges. I was initially reluctant to attend because of my general anxiety about large groups of people and because somewhere deep within the confines of my tortured high school soul, I felt like I was crashing a party. Or at least succumbing to the ironic “Oh I guess you can come” kind of invite.
Now this is all in my head, because both the reason for me being there, thank you Jen and UrbanMoms, and the small group of long time writers that I have met in various incarnations were perfectly delightful with their bear hugs and reluctant cheek kisses.
And it’s not like I hid behind a theatre curtain, white sneaker toes peaking out, trying to eavesdrop on all the earthy conversations. I participated in the micro sessions, offering a candid view through my own blogging lens. I smiled at the oncoming traffic, said hello in breakfast lines, offered pens when no pens were found, eye smiled and giggled as Jian Ghomeshi spoke, metaphorically removing panties with his creamy voice and completely self deprecating charm. I joked with the lentil sponsors, watched a Starbucks demonstration, ate 70′s style Kraft foods, chugged free wine, blindly reached out to pointy faced women with great laughs, hoop earrings and solid marketing ideas. And I tweeted my location and highlights from the wonderful speakers. So, I was there, big boy pants and all.
But for whatever reason, my meekness, my maleness, my unintended malevolence, I did not feel connected to this crowd. The edges encompassed me and I hung there, cradled in the comfort of my own self. Except the two times I snuck downstairs to have a bowl of soup and a Guinness at the hotel local and chatted with, get this, tourists.
I do not underestimate the value of this conference. After reading the post Blissdom posts from all the women across the country, I was blown away by the impact this weekend has, and how many great writers there are out there.
Perhaps its envy, I don’t know.
I do know that I met a few really nice people, saw people I liked in the past and will continue to like in the future and hung out with my UrbanMoms crew, one I had not seen in a long time and others I met for the first time. All meetings were almost worth the pangs of isolation I felt along the way.
So what did I learn?
I learned that I need to blog more about me and not worry about the audience so much. If I offend, I apologize. But my writing has been a bit milquetoast lately and I want to change that. If it gets too much, I will move it back over here.
I learned I need to write more and more and more and more.
I learned that publishing a book can be easy, but it can be really difficult to sell it.
I learned that trying to fake being an extrovert may not be too good for soul.
I learned that Michael Smith is one tall drink of water.
And I learned that an old friend’s wife, Ami Mckay, is one great story teller.
And maybe, just maybe my time to write is now.
Jen setting up the SheBlogs table on the Friday night.