I think it's because the "what am I going to wear"/"I need to lose 100 pounds by August" chatter started what feels like a decade ago, but if I close my eyes, I feel like I've already been to New York and back.
I mean, my badge is right here on my desk. I'm still using the brown sponges I got in a swag bag last year. I keep seeing photos of BlogHers past on my Twitter stream. Wasn't I just there?
Weren't we just swilling martinis in the hotel bar?
Weren't we just kicking ourselves for paying for room service egg white scrambles and pots of tea because we missed the free breakfast?
Weren't we just staring at a suitcase full of freshly-dry-cleaned, The Hills-inspired ensembles that we never even wore because our aching feet just couldn't abide the on-trend, strappy platform sandals that went with them? The sandals that were supposed to fill people's flickr streams with cuteness?
My feet kinda hurt and I am tired. (I'm always tired.)
My point is, isn't it time for everyone to take a deep breath and relax? Say a few "oms" and turn on some Jason Mraz and stare at pictures of Matteo or something? Just so we can calm down?
There is a lot of stress that can accompany conferences, especially BlogHer, maybe because it's the Biggest One Ever. There are more people, more sponsors, more parties, more private events, more, more, more! It's hard not to get caught up in the madness. But with about two weeks left before everyone descends on the Hilton, let's take a moment to chill and keep things in perspective.
ADDRESSING THE CLOTHES AND SHOES THING
I've been scouting for new clothes and comfortable shoes, too, but I also know it's going to be 6,497 degrees and humid as fuck in New York and my number one priority is "not dying" followed closely by "not killing anyone" because of the heat.
I promise I will not even notice what you are wearing but I sure as hell will notice (and will be supremely jealous) if you're shoes are more comfortable than mine.
The takeaway: Be comfortable. When you are comfortable, you're confident, and that's what people will remember.
ADDRESSING THE SOCIALIZING THING
I'm not going to generalize and say that bloggers are most comfortable hiding behind their laptops and have no social skills because in my experience, it's just not true. Just like in life, BlogHer attendees run the gamut from naturally outgoing to naturally shy. My personal experience at conferences is that I have exactly one day of sparkle in me and then I slowly fizzle out the rest of the days. I suspect this might be true of others as well. It's especially hard for me because the cornerstone of my business is meeting bloggers.
Thursday night will be full of squeals and big hugs and even bigger smiles. Friday will be full of hugs and smiles but maybe not as many squeals. Saturday will be spent wondering why your third Diet Coke+chocolate chip cookie combo isn't working it's usual magic.
I'm not even going to talk about the "bloggers are clique-y" thing because that's just silly. People have been associating in tribes for a jillion years. Think about the tribes you naturally form in your life. Your old friends, your mom group friends, your work friends, your church friends, your gym buddies, etc. It's the same with bloggers, many of whom have cultivated close relationships over the years. (Thank you, internet.) No one at BlogHer will attempt to eat you or shrink your head for approaching her tribe. Think about it—the beauty of approaching a group to say "hello" is that you've just met a bunch of people at one time! And, more importantly, they've met YOU. (Dammit, I just addressed it, didn't I. Okay, so it's not silly, but still, I don't want to hear another word about how bloggers are clique-y.)
The takeaway: Be yourself. Be nice. Don't take anything personally. You can't realistically attend every party and event. It's okay to pretend like something VERY IMPORTANT is happening on your phone RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Also, catch me on Thursday night, especially since I will have been in NYC since Tuesday night, working.
ADDRESSING THE SWAG THING
Ugh. I could care less about swag. I don't need any more crap in my house and it breaks my heart to see how much swag is wasted, left behind in hotel rooms, or carelessly tossed aside at conferences. (Even the ones with recycle rooms.) I don't need another bag, travel mug, or water bottle, really I don't, especially because I am extremely picky about my bags, travel mugs, and water bottles not being made out of questionable materials (like cheap, Oriental Trading Company, plastic).
Here's an analogy. You what I hate most about throwing kid birthday parties? Goody bags. They are supposed to be a "thank you" for coming, but isn't coming to play with your friends and shoveling cake and ice cream into your gullet thank you enough? My kid will send you a thank you note, mos def, so why do I need to spend an extra $50 on goody bags full of stuff no parent really wants to have to deal with? That's what swag feels like to me. Empty thanks.
I declined an attendee bag at BlogHer last year. I walked through the expo hall and didn't fill my tote with lotion samples or piles of coupons or yet another t-shirt. I spent my time talking to people not gathering things. When I did choose to receive a freebie, I was extremely selective. Green sponges and cleaning cloths? Yes. A coupon for a free pair of Gap jeans? Sure! Hair product from a line I actually use? You betcha. Everything else? No, thank you. I don't need it.
If filling your suitcases with freebies is a top reason why you are attending BlogHer, more power to you, I guess. I just ask you to please be thoughtful about what you are accepting. And please, no shoving or cutting in line to see the many celebrities who will be present. Some of us line up early for a reason. Ahem.
The takeaway: Don't be a swaghole. And, okay, yes, bring an extra bag or plan to take advantage of on-site shipping if you think you'll be bring home lots of extra crap. If you bring home an extra bag, account for it online when you do your pre-flight check-in/advance printing of your boarding pass. It's much cheaper than checking your bags at the airport.
For many of us, Blogher weekend is a much needed respite from our daily routine. It might be the only time we will have a much-needed break from our families all year. Some of us (myself included) will be working hard on behalf of our companies and/or clients. For some of us, this will be a much-anticipated girls' weekend. Others will be including partners and families and making it a vacation.
Here's a quote I read recently that, I think, applies to the BlogHer experience:
Goals help you channel your energy into action. - Les Brown
Whatever your reason for attending, whatever goals you have for the weekend, let's make sure having fun is somewhere near the top of the list. Make it what YOU want it to be, and don't settle for anything less.
See you in New York City!