So Blogtacular was yesterday. I got up at 7.15am for a train to London at 7.50am, and a full twelve hours later stumbled back out of the train station carrying more bags than I started with, barely coherent, and clutching a wooden spatula bearing the command “Paint Everything”. I was swiftly scooped up by the waiting husband and posted into the car with a bag of takeaway dinner. This morning I woke up at the crack of sparrow fart with an overwhelming urge to Write All The Things.
During her opening plenary artist Lisa Congdon described a phenomenon called the ‘Vulnerability Hangover‘, and idea originally proposed by Brené Brown. That feeling of horrible uncertainty that follows a moment of vulnerability, a moment of putting ourselves out there. A feeling that is horribly familiar to most of us I expect, and one that I am painfully susceptible to. Even writing this, part of my mind is flitting back over all the little moments from the event where I probably made a fool of myself. I am experiencing the mother of all vulnerability hangovers.
I’m a pretty dedicated introvert, so the prospect of 300 people in one place gives me more than a few tummy wobbles. And the prospect of flying solo into such an event is even more terrifying. In order to get anything out of an event like this I have to do the one thing that makes me feel more vulnerable than anything else: put myself out there. Launch into conversation with all the grace of a newborn albatross (they ain’t graceful).
This hangover needs more than an ibuprofen and a big glass of water. A stonking middle finger should suffice. I hope that by writing this I will remind myself of all the good things that happen when I make myself vulnerable. Last year’s Blogtacular felt very much about ‘hows’ for me – how to kick it at Pinterest, how to be more organised at social media, how to keep my blog secure. Safe, introspective things that allowed me to practice networking without being dependent on it. This year my mission was very much ‘who’. My little introvert heart has been crying out for some creative connection lately, and I was determined to put myself out there and Meet People. Vulnerability alert working in over time here. But you know what? Some really wonderful things happened.
So here are a few stories from my trip to Blogtacular, as a reminder that I am not always the awkward little albatross that I think I am.
- When I arrive at big events I like to take a moment of alone time to centre myself. Grabbing a coffee and some breakfast is a great way to do this. Being armed with a latte and a croissant gives me a ‘reason’ (introvert logic) to walk up to a table of people and ask to join. The first table I landed on contained Rachel and Emma, both sewing and making bloggers who enthused with me over the Sewing Bee and Tilly and the Buttons (Rachel’s handmade Bettine dress was gorgeous).
- On the way into the opening presentations, I turned to the stranger walking next to me, smiled, and asked what she writes about. Even though my insides were melting with fear. The stranger in question turned out to be Jen Gale of My Make Do And Mend Life, who more than shares my passion for living and crafting sustainably, and what started as a shy gambit at conversation turned into a day long discussion (punctuated by conference goings on) about everything from sustainable fabrics and a shared horror of consumerism, to finding our creative stories online.
- During the first break I spotted a gap at the genius bar and slid into it to strike up a conservation with Elaine. We got chatting at last year’s event, and this year the conversation picked up almost exactly where we left off!
- Every introvert needs a solo moment, and I decided to take mine to wander around the Marketplace. Behind the Waterstones stand I spotted a familiar face, and a second later she recognised me – fellow knitter and UCL PhD student Michaela, whom I hadn’t seen in many years. Blogtacular clearly has a new line in reuniting long-list friends.
I think it goes without saying that I am an enormous fan of what Kat and her team have accomplished with Blogtacular. This year the energy throughout the venue was lovely, and despite my fear of people in general and speaking to them specifically, the atmosphere was inviting and encouraging rather than intimidating. Not talking to people would have felt more odd than just inserting myself into conversations! Thank you guys for making an event where even the most awkward of albatrosses can feel a bit less flappy.
Ok, now my finger is hovering over the publish button, paralysed with anguish about making these vulnerable ramblings public.
How do you take down your hangover?