As I mentioned in my previous post, I left the first day of BlogHer '13 feeling both exhausted and energized, and ready to see what day two would bring.
I was particularly excited to start the day by hearing Sheryl Sandberg speak, as I had just finished reading Lean In the week prior and loved it. I won't get into too much of what she said right now because I have so many thoughts about the book and her interview at BlogHer that I am going to leave it for another post. I will say for now that it was awesome hearing her speak!
But before all that, not seeing anyone I knew and wanting to try to make a few new connections, I continued my streak of bravery and sat down with another table of strangers (go me!). I continued to be amazed by the friendliness of everyone with whom I interacted. And can I just say what a small world it is? Thousands of woman at this conference, and I managed to sit at a table with a woman who also lives in Cambridge and with someone who works with my sister at Birchbox.
After breakfast and Sheryl Sandberg's interview, I was all set to hit up a seminar on SEO (which, in case you don't know, stands for Search Engine Optimization....yes, it's about as exciting as it sounds, but essential for blogging and Etsy). We were given the option to stay and participate in Lean In Circles, which are groups of peers who meet to talk and learn from one another.
For a few minutes I had an internal debate: a chance to hone in on a really important skill that I would definitely use, or the opportunity for deeper human connection? Ultimately, more interaction with my fellow attendees won out. I decided while I was BlogHer to learn, I was first and foremost there to connect with my fellow bloggers. I figured I could also read the transcript from the seminar later.
Let me tell you, this was the best decision I could have made, and probably my favorite part about BlogHer.
I ended up sitting at a table with five incredible women from around the country, each with a very different type of blog. We were an energetic group, eager to talk and get to know one another. We went through the group exercises, introducing each other to the group, and then going through a deck of cards with questions about feelings of power, proud (and not-so-proud) moments, and regrets.
Though most of us had only met each other that morning, we shared a great deal about ourselves and really bonded in only a short period of time. This is exactly why I had come to BlogHer and was exactly what I was looking for: to really connect with my fellow bloggers, and to feel part of a larger, truly incredible and inspiring community.
I was kinda bummed when it ended, but I enjoyed continuing to hang out with two of them at lunch and as a group we tweeted with each other throughout the rest of the day. (Side note: I have never used Twitter so much as I did during the time I was a BlogHer. In fact, I'm just about the only one of my friends who uses Twitter. Apparently just about everyone who blogs also Tweets. Just an an observation.)
And oh man, then it was lunch. They really packed in the presentations at the meals, but they were well worth it! I was particularly entranced by the performance by Lourds Lane, a rockin' badass violinist and the creator of Chix 6. Her energy was incredible, and she gave a very memorable performance, sharing her story through talking, singing, and playing the violin. (If you find yourself in New York City, you might want to check out her play which is bound for Broadway.)
That afternoon I went to my final session before heading to the BlogHer Fashion show and parties that followed. Again, I was blown away by the bloggers who totally worked it on stage and the response from the crowd. I loved that these were real women up there, all beautiful and amazing and owning their presence on stage despite the fact that I'm sure none of them had been on a catwalk before. And like the night before at the Voices of the Year, the response from the audience, their peers, was electric.
To say I was awestruck by the whole experience would be an understatement. Even as I sit down and process my experience, I don't feel that I can fully give it justice. It was just truly incredible to be surrounded by so many passionate woman who were connected really by one thing.
And for the first time, I felt like a blogger. When I was asked, both by my fellow attendees and the sponsors, "Are you a blogger?" I was able to respond with a confident "Yes!" Being surrounded by people who were connected by blogging made me feel surprisingly in my element.
Initially when I purchased my tickets to BlogHer back in November, and again as I came closer to the date, I felt like a bit of an impostor, like I had no right being at a blogging conference (especially one of this magnitude). Amazingly, being at such a large event, surrounded by people who had such a passion for blogging, had the complete opposite effect. I felt like I belonged, and ultimately I new I made the right decision to come.
I may not be a big wig in the blogging world, I may not have been invited to any of the outside sponsor parties (which, talking to some people who were, didn't sound like they were worth it anyway), I may not have that many readers, but being there helped me to come to a conclusion. I'm a blogger, and damn proud of it.
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