(This is very personal, and somewhat hard for me to put out there, but I don’t hold back on anything else, so the same should apply to this subject…)
A few days ago I was having a conversation with a fellow blogger about a conference she was headed to. I’m always in awe of all the traveling my friends get to do, and this was no exception. She was flying from Pennsylvania out to California for the Fresh Summit Expo, a definite destination spot for a food blogger. I wistfully watched her tweets during the amazing event. And then, I felt like a loser.
I have to say, I adore this friend for being a straight-shooter, but when she told me, “you’re never going to be successful if you don’t leave the house,” well, that stung. The truth hurts sometimes.
I don’t really have any grand excuses why I haven’t gone to any blog conferences in the last number of years. They look amazing. I would love to connect face to face with so many of the wonderful talented women (and ok, some men) that I’ve met online. I just… I can’t. The mere thought of walking into an event where I don’t know another soul is enough to make me reach for the Xanax bottle and start my deep breathing exercises.
I’ve tried, well, kind of. Two years ago I unrelentingly pursued a specific niche company for a sponsorship to the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta, GA. I was confident in my communications with them, and they came back with a “sure, set it up” response. All I had wanted had come true - I was covered for an event I really wanted to attend. I was going to see a state I had never been to! I was going to fly!
Insert record scratching sound here.
It didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. The prospect of flying (I have never flown) was both exciting and terrifying, and ultimately the terror won out.
See? I’m such a dork.
Last year I was super excited because iRetreat was going to be held in Hershey, PA, which is only about an hour or so from me. I was STOKED. This was my home turf! No flying required. I confidently purchased the early bird tickets and excitedly waited for the summer to arrive.
And then I stayed home.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a number of really great friends who truly GET me. They understand the way anxiety works, that it’s not made up, and that there are some occasions that I just can’t push through. Unfortunately that’s not the case with everyone. I often hear “anxiety? You don’t have anxiety! You’re one of the most outgoing people I know!” Yeah, I do have anxiety, and it messes up my life. Just because I’m generally a cheerful, optimistic person, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with doing even the simplest things like calling the dentist.
So, I’ve set a goal for myself for the next season of blog conferences. I am going to attend one, for real. I am going to surround myself with a support system who understands that maybe it IS hard for me, but they love me anyway. I’m going to forge new friendships, and connect with brands, and fulfill my potential.
One baby step at a time.