I'm on my way to Allume right now. My first ever blogging conference.
I'm both incredibly excited and a tad anxious about going to Allume. I love new experiences but they also make me nervous simply because I don't know what to expect. And I have no grid whatsoever for something like this.
This is the S part of my personality. Unless I have hands-on experience with something I am nervous about how it's all going to work. At the same time I get excited about having a new adventure, and I can't wait to be fully engaged in what will be going on, the E part of my personality.
I've been reading "what to expect at your first blog conference" type posts and joining conference newbie facebook groups and the like.
I've never been to a "women" conference before. And, other than Outdoor Retailer, I haven't been to any conferences (OR is a convention actually, you don't attend talks and sessions you meet vendors and check out products), except a one day homeschool deal in Maine years ago.
I'm not really a "hang out with a bunch of other women" woman. Women make me nervous. Christian women make me especially nervous. (Allume is a Christian blogging conference.)
Just for the record, I haven't had any bad experiences that I can remember with women, Christian or otherwise. I have loving grandmas and aunties, a wonderful mom, and I don't remember being especially hurt by girlfriends.
I am a strong personality and my usual approach growing up was - this is me, you can take it or leave it. I haven't had a history of seeking the approval of other females. Until recently - but that's a whole 'nother story.
I don't know why it is, but being with a bunch of other women has always made me a little edgy. Or rather, makes me worry more about my edge. Where other women are intuitive, I'm totally clueless. I could say something to hurt your feelings and unless you say to me "Renee, that hurt", I might never know. I'm getting better at this but it's not my strong suit. And when you do tell me I've hurt your feelings I will be crushed and apologize from the bottom of my heart because I never mean to hurt people but oh, my lack of tact, it bites me in the bum.
While we're talking about personality I'm also a stronger Thinker than Feeler. This explains why I may inadvertently hurt your feelings while I state the facts of a situation. (And we haven't even talked about my J, which combined with my E & S and T makes me outspoken and obnoxious if I'm not careful.)
I've spent my adulthood learning how to tame my tongue, how to tone down and be less open with people I don't know well. I try to guard my words, lest I do harm. I still manage to do harm now and then anyway, but with much less frequency I hope.
This feels a tad constraining to me but is better than always sticking my neck out there or sticking my foot in my mouth. This must be why I love writing so much. I can share what I think but I can also preview and edit what I say before hitting publish.
The parts of me that are really "me" just don't seem to jive all that well with nurturing, intuitive, touchy-feeling women. I feel all angular next to their roundness. And yet, I love these women - their intuition, kind words and caring hearts, even though they make me a little twitchy. Twitchy because if they knew what I really thought maybe they wouldn't be so kind and caring?
In case you're worried that I'm a cold hearted mama - I assure you, I'm not. My children changed me. I wrote about that here. And I am as emotional as the next woman, especially at certain times of the month.
Neither am I a cold hearted friend. I'm helpful, responsible and loyal. I will stand by you and you can count on me. I'm a guardian. Which is so ironic considering many of our life philosophies. The intersection of my personality with our non-conformist choices and beliefs is where I experience most of my personal struggle and growth.
Let's leave personality aside for a moment and discuss clothing. Since women are into clothes, or so I hear.
Clothes. I don't own many. I dress mostly in functional clothing that does double duty for active living and the outdoors. I wear a lot of black tights. I don't have "going to a women's conference" clothes. I have a black linen skirt and my minimalist "dress" shoes. These will have to do. I'll just have to confiscate them back from Céline who also likes to wear them.
I laughed this weekend while reading a clothing thread on the Allume newbie facebook group. The conversation started something like this "for those of us doing last minute packing..." Meaning that those of us who packed the day before we left are last minute packers. I don't own enough clothes to pack any other way! PS. I don't own any make-up either and I don't plan to borrow my nine year old's blush, so you get me as-is.
I'm taking this all in good stride and doing my best to not be insecure about who I am. I like who I am and I like who other women are. In fact some of the women I connect with best are very different from me (I think that's because two ESTJ's is two too many).
So, yes I'm nervous about being around a bunch of women but I'm also very excited because I like women - I really do. And these aren't just women, they are women bloggers. Do you know how many women bloggers I know in my real life? About four. And none of them live near enough to meet for coffee.
I get to spend the next three days with a wonderful group of women who get that I am a mother, a wife, a homeschooler (many of these women homeschool as well) and a blogger. They get that I track google analytics, that I want to learn how to use Twitter more effectively, that I earn money from online sources, that I want to influence people with my writing, that I want to tell a good story.
They understand getting up early to write, the thrill of comments on a post, and can relate to milestones like your first affiliate sale.
These women, women who take more care with their clothes, who are are packing their cute leather boots as I write, who do their hair and even wear make-up, who feel soft and squishy against my edges, they understand and "get me" on a level that many people in my world do not. Being with them validates my desires to write and to blog, to share my story, to create products and service that help support our family.
And you know what, I intend to make new friends with some of these women. To get to know their names, to hear their vision for blogging,
to laugh (loudly and earnestly) at their stories of how they had trouble packing all their clothes into their luggage. And they'll laugh at me for forgetting my underwear. Turns out we laughed, loudly, about many things, but not clothes.
I will admire their courage for making the effort, just as I am making a huge effort, to come and learn, to connect and grow. I will visit their blogs and oh and ah at their pretty business cards.
I'll come home energized (well, after I crash that is) and better connected to other women like myself. Christian women who blog.
Let the fun begin.