Just in case you were wondering?
There are days when I am amazing.
The birds sing when I wake up. My lipstick stays on through my morning cereal and two power bars. My hair straightens itself. I eat broccoli and it doesn’t stick to my teeth. My children remember to call me and Buddy follows me wherever I go and sunlight dances off the wood floor and the living room looks like it stepped out of a blue and white magazine.
There are days when all that amazing leaves the building.
Have you ever had a day like that? A day full of awkward?
A moment where you wish you could push the reset button?
A moment when you felt like the world was looking at you in unison with a giant raised eyebrow?
I’ve lived a lifetime of moments just like that.
Two steps forward and one step back….
…wiping a little egg off my face along the way.
A day just like this.
Last week I attended the Haven conference.
It’s a conference for bloggers and influencers and creative people who like to make money online.
I was a speaker and a panelist and there was a booth for the new book with this picture blown up larger than life on a banner.
It was an amazing experience. I learned so much and met new friends and drank coffee and discussed how incredible it is to get to do what we do.
And it made me think of the very first Haven conference I ever attended.
I had just started blogging and I wanted to know everything.
I wanted to learn all about mysterious things like SEO and alt tags and social media and DFP and how to take pictures of eggs that looked like art. I heard about a conference called Haven where you could learn so much more about being a blogger. I couldn’t wait. I was so EXCITED about the conference and I bought my ticket and booked my room and got my hair highlighted and stocked up on red lipstick and took off for places unknown.
All by myself without any peeps.
(total aside: if you ever plan on attending a blogging conference, do as I say, not as I did…peeps make everything so much better)
The first night of the conference started with a cocktail party for all the attendees.
I was ready.
I put on my new outfit, teased my highlighted hair to the sky, slipped on a new pair of oversized sparkly earrings that danced when I laughed and walked into a dark room filled with people I had never met before in my entire life. In my hands, I clutched a stack of brand-new business cards that I had printed on sheets I bought at Walmart that you ripped apart (still leaving the perforated edges) and desperately clung to them for reassurance.
Like they were the golden ticket.
Nervously, I walked up to the first table of bloggers I saw and introduced myself.
The bloggers looked me up and looked me down and asked me what the name of my blog was. Excitedly, I peeled a business card out of my sweaty palms and pointed to the website for Thistlewood Farms. I couldn’t believe it.
These were bloggers. Real, in-life bloggers. Just like me.
I knew this was going to be the beginning of something wonderful. I knew this was the part in the script where we were all going to hug and talk blogging and give each other tips and ideas and hold hands and become best friends forever.
Except it didn’t happen exactly like that.
The bloggers looked at my wilted, crumpled business card and shrugged and exchanged a look that spoke volumes. Then, with a half-hearted smile, they gave me one more cursory glance and looked over my head to see if someone more popular was around.
And right then and there in the middle of that room standing all alone with laughter and conversation swirling all around me…
….I shrunk a little inside.
I paused, and stood there awkwardly for another moment as my hair and my outstretched business cards wilted just a little.
You got this, I told myself.
Don’t let them see you sweat.
I shook my head, braced my shoulders, clutched my hands….
and soldiered on.
I approached another group of beautiful people in beautiful outfits, laughing and talking and becoming instant best friends…
…and the same thing happened again.
And again. And again. And again.
Until my confidence was shattered.
Until my heart hurt.
Until I had blurred my laser-printed business cards with the sweat from my palms.
Until I wanted to take my earrings and my highlights…
…and run all the way home.
Instead, I gathered my tattered pride and my bedraggled hair and left the party with my head held high.
I finally made it to my hotel room, flung myself onto the bed and burst into tears.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This wasn’t what I envisioned. This wasn’t how I imagined my first foray into the world of blogging to end up.
Not even close.
Tears, streaming down my face, I dug in my purse for tissues and saw the message on my phone.
It was my family. They were calling to wish me luck and check on me and ask me about all my new friends and all the fun I was having.
The message made me cry harder. It made me wish I had ordered my business cards from a fancy online store. It made me wish my blog was funnier and brighter and different and more creative and…and…and….
Suddenly, I stopped mid pity party.
Why? Why was I worried about what they thought? Why was I worried about my blog being better or more creative or funnier or more than it was…..
….because I was there.
I was in the house.
I was at the conference with my stories and my waving hands and my giggle and my joy.
And me, myself and I were better than any blog post could ever hope to be.
So I dried my tears and washed my face and went to bed. The next day I marched myself downstairs with a sparkling set of flip flops and a new attitude….
….and then I laughed and danced and listened and storied my way through the conference.
Maybe it was the flip flops.
Maybe it was the new perspective.
Maybe it was the joy bubbling out of me for the next 48 hours.
Whatever the reason, on the last day of the conference, I sat on the front row and appointed myself to approach the sponsors and thank them for hosting the conference.
Like I was on the greeting committee.
Like I was someone important. Someone with worth. Someone with a voice to be heard and a story to tell….
….like I was me.
But the story doesn’t end there.
The next year I went back and appointed myself head of the greeting committee and stood at the hotel reception desk and welcomed everyone. I didn’t ever want anyone to feel the way I felt. I wanted to encourage everyone at that conference. I wanted to uplift. I wanted everyone at Haven to understand that they had a story to tell.
And I was here to listen.
Year after year I showed up.
Year after year I tried so hard to make sure everyone was included.
In a full-circle conference moment?
The girl that once upon a time felt so small?
Was handed this award on a stage in front of 400 people.
The Haven Inspiration Award.
I burst into tears. I couldn’t help myself. It was incredible. It was overwhelming.
I wish I could go back. I wish I could have dried the tears of that girl sitting on the bed sobbing because she didn’t feel like she fit in and tell her she was ENOUGH.
And tell her that incredible, awesome, special, not-to-be-believed things were just around the corner.
The moral of this blogging tale?
Remember that everyone has worth. Don’t ever let others try to tell you differently.
There is only one you.
And that you is amazing.
And creative and wonderful and incredible with a unique voice and a story to tell.
And if you ever attend a blogging conference…
….I’ll save you a seat right next to me. 🙂