{Anxiety} How to Beat the Blog Conference Blues

Beat the Blog Conference Blues

As a child, I was blessed with an ability to never feel insecure in any situation. This caused my mother endless amounts of grief as I bounced around stores, loudly singing, loudly talking, and loudly asking her to buy me things. The teenage me gave her the same amount of grief, but with an awareness after social situations that I probably looked like a complete idiot during them.

As an adult, I have a keen awareness before social situations of what an idiot I will potentially make myself out to be. Not very long ago, this was such a crippling can’t-breathe-get-me-outta-here awareness that I tried not to venture into social situations unless I had no other option. I’m slowly working (and forcing) myself out of my self induced shell.

As a blogger, I often see events going on that I would so love to attend, but the anxiety is too overwhelming to consider. As I come out of my shell, such events seem slightly less terrifying. One such event is the Breathing Space Retreat in Daybreak, Utah.

This beautiful retreat has a few things that appealed to me: first, affordability, at only $75 for a weekend ticket! Second, location, as it’s within Salt Lake valley. Third, it offers fun classes like beginning knitting and photography!

Lastly, it offers the taste of a blog conference, without the sheer overwhelming numbers of a big-time blog conference: it’s excluded to 75 people! The size of the conference is perfect for me. It will get me out of my comfort zone (75 people! wow, that is a lot of people I don’t know!), without plunking me down in the middle of 500+ attendees. I can do 75 people. Right? Right??

As I work my way out of my “shell,” I’m starting to realize… I’m not the only one  ready to pee their pants in a social situation. I’ve pulled together some tips from other bloggers ready to hit their anxiety head on at a conference.

1. Be Recognizeable! Kristi, from The Daily Dribbles, posted a real-life picture of herself, admitting,

The thing is, I’m naturally a shy person. If you know me in real life, you’re probably laughing at that statement. Once you get to know me, I’m not shy at all. In fact, I’m quite outgoing. But if you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, and there are lots of people involved (like at a blog conference), I feel overwhelmed and oftentimes, just go and sit by myself and wait for someone else to come up to me. That is not me being a bitch. That is me retreating and hoping that someone will take pity on me and start a conversation with me.

2. Don’t Compare. One cool thing about the Breathing Space Retreat is that while it’s for “bloggers,” blogger is pretty loosely defined by anyone who happens to have a blog. If you’re coming, and your blog has a follower, singular, (hi, Mom!), enjoy what you’re learning from more established bloggers. Dianne, of Will Write for Food, offers this advice:

Someone is always going to have a better book deal, more readers, more speaking opportunities, more ad revenue, nicer clothes, more prestigious freelancing gigs, better writing skills, and more hangers-on. I’ll never win, playing that game.

3. Shut Up, Listen Up – Awkward with conversation? Then leave the conversation to others. Debrorah, from American Christian Fiction Writers, offers this valuable insight:

Listen five times more than you talk, and when you do talk, make at least 50% of your words QUESTIONS to others about themselves, instead of talking about yourself. I know when I’m nervous I have a tendency to talk WAY too much. I’m learning that if I make a conscious effort to shut my mouth and just LISTEN, I get far more out of any encounter or meeting.

4. Make New Friends… First – If at all possible, attend the Twitter chats, Facebook convo, and real-life meet ups before the event. Suddenly the strangers that you’re about to spend an entire weekend with won’t seem to strange! A tip from socialanxietydisorder.about.com:

If you will be attending an event where you do not know anyone, make a point of trying to get to know at least one other fellow attendee prior to going. Although it may be awkward to try and get to know someone in advance, you will be glad to see a friendly face when you arrive. Make plans to meet up for coffee or a meal during the event and you will feel less like an outsider amongst an unfriendly crowd.

Whether you suffer from blog conference anxiety or not, I hope you’ll venture out of your comfort zone to join me at the Breathing Space Retreat! If nothing else, you know you’re not the only one there who is taking deep breaths, trying not to be horribly awkward, and making a concentrated effort not to pee their pants and run.

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10 Responses to {Anxiety} How to Beat the Blog Conference Blues

  1. Kathy says:

    I love this post! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for all of the tips and advice! I am going to Snap Conference in April and it is going to be my first conference and then I will also be going to the Breathing Space retreat. I am so excited for both of these events, but I am also quite a mess! I am such a shy, introvert person and I am trying to break out of it. It is nice knowing I am not alone in being nervous!

    • Summer, good for you! You are definitely not alone. In fact, I think we need t-shirts. They will be big and bright and say “I’M SHY, COME SAY HI!” Then people will approach US, and we won’t have to worry about approaching total strangers.

  3. Stacie S-H says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I think that lately , working from home has caused me to have more anxiety when I’m out among other people. Even at church which is prob 75 ppl or less, I wont talk to anyone, I feel so nervous, out of place and self conscious. I never used to be this way! Well, probably I was somewhat but not as bad as it is now. It helps a ton to go with someone I know so if nobody talks to me I can fall back on the friend I brought to make conversation with. Thanks for the tips. Not sure if I will go to this or not as only 1-2 of the classes were interesting to me and I have no friends that I know of who have the time/can afford to go. $75 is a fantastic price but so many of my friends are living paycheck to paycheck :-/ Great article!

    • Stacie, let’s be shy-hiding-in-the-corner, please-don’t-talk-to-me, but-I-wish-someone-WOULD-talk-to-me friends!! There is a meet up beforehand (I’m not sure when exactly), we can practice our standing in the corner skills together. :D

  4. Dianne Jacob says:

    Thanks for the link. I think everyone has a hard time at these conferences, no matter what level they are. We’re all used to sitting behind a computer and it’s challenging to be on for several hours. It’s good of you to post useful tips like these.

  5. Harlene says:

    Thank you to all for your honesty. I, too, was a little hesitant to commit to attending at first. I didn’t feel like I could identify myself as a “blogger” because I havent’ blogged in over a year. Stuck in that “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” rut. I just haven’t had anything uplifting, let alone possibly interesting to say. This year I accepted that I blog as a form of personal expression, not a way to seek affirmation. SO I’m ready to start again…and hopefully this retreat will keep me on that path.

    Anxious, in the best sense of the word, to meet you all!

  6. Patricia. says:

    I will be going to this and it’s my first blog conference as well. Thanks for the tips! I come off as majorly anti-social due to my weird shyness and social boundaries.

  7. […] How to Beat the Blog Conference Blues […]

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