Is it exciting or as it gets closer, are nerves setting in?
I first considered going to the blogging conference organised by BritMums two years ago. At that time, I had pretty much lost any sense of my own identity and rarely ventured out alone even to the local town. Life events such as post-natal depression, bereavement and relocation had taken their toll and I had lost my confidence (which was never that great at the best of times!) My blog was my sanctuary and something to hide behind.
Have you guessed yet? Yes, I bottled the whole thing and pretended I really could not afford to go.
The trouble was that I then saw all the posts and tweets and realised that I wanted to be there after all.
In 2012, I was asked if I would like to speak at the event and said yes as I felt that was the only way that I would end up going if I had actually committed to doing something. I also thought the organisers were rather foolish to take a gamble on me and would probably end up regretting it.
As the weekend of the conference got nearer, I told my husband that I could not face going alone and could he come with me to London just in case I could not cope and needed a quick and friendly escape route.
I arrived at the Brewery and the foyer was packed with people who looked like they knew what they were doing. I found my name badge and looked around at a loss as to who to speak to and wondering whether they would answer me if I summoned up the courage to do so. I could not do my usual and hide in the loos as I had disclosed on my blog for weeks that was what I was most likely to do.
I met the Butterflies who are the lovely bloggers that BritMums choose to ensure everyone is feeling comfy in a new environment. People started to approach me and say how they liked my blog or how we had tweeted together. It was a weird feeling – people actually seemed to think that I was OK. It was also thrilling to meet my favourite bloggers in the flesh.
When I had wobbly moments, I just went and got a cuppa or approached somebody that I knew would talk to me. I also noticed that some people were clearly very nervous and made the effort to start a conversation with them.
On the Friday night, I found myself with a lovely group of women one of whom somehow became my best friend in minutes. Later, she told me that I had appeared standoffish at first, so here’s to the power of Prosecco!
I laughed. I learned. I cried, but in a good way, empathising with parents who have overcome challenges with strength and humour. I can’t wait for June 2013 to come around, knowing I will feel that much more confident and will meet with friends and might just make some new ones too.
Here are my tips if you find the whole idea of BritMums Live a bit daunting
1. Remember you are not alone. Events are scary for many people and those who look the most confident are often quaking inside.
2. Use the weeks before BritMums Live to tweet with people who are going and perhaps to arrange to meet so you have a ready-made friend or two when you arrive.
3. Admit you are nervous. Showing vulnerability is strong and people will love you for it.
4. Small talk can be challenging so ask people questions to open up conversations. You can assume that anyone attending this event will be interested in blogging so ask them about that.
5. Don’t be surprised if a celebrity or someone you really admire speaks to you. They are human too.
6. Act as if the person you are with is really shy and try to make them feel at ease. That neatly takes the focus of your own wobbly feelings.
7. If someone scurries away from you, it is probably that they have their own issues and it does not mean that they don’t like you.
8. Remember that nobody starts off as an experienced blogger but all experienced bloggers know what it feels like to be a newbie in terms of blogging or blogging events.
9. Lots of people at this event will be there for the first time too.
10. Some people who would love to be at this event cannot be for all sorts of reasons including sad and tragic ones. Seize the day and come and have the most amazing time!
If all else fails, come and find me. You’ll find me in the loos!