I have been struggling with writing a post about my experience at Blissdom. As I reflect on what I took away from this experience I have mixed feelings. Did I find “my Bliss”? I found bits and pieces of it. I also learned how I might find other pieces of “my Bliss”. Blissdom was my first conference, and if nothing else I have learned to better manage my expectations. The journey is often more important than the destination, and this journey was definitely worthwhile.
The organisers of Blissdom clearly worked tirelessly to make it the very best it could be, not just before but throughout the conference. The speakers, workshops and micro-sessions were great, creating an environment that allowed one to think and question. I tend to be a cynic but also a thinker, maybe an over thinker. I love to "people watch" and see how they act, react and interact. I'm not really the gushing with inspiration type, although many of the speakers and attendees were very inspiring. I am the type that goes through a slow burn thought process, thinking about what this experience has taught me about myself and human nature. I'm always interested to see if what I suspect turns out to be true, and what and who surprises me, either in a positive or negative way.
So after some reflection I learned that what we can see of a person though social media is seldom the whole picture, so not surprisingly many people turned out to being different than I thought they would be. Most were some version of what I anticipated, and it was nice to think I still have some ability to read a person and their intentions. A few completely blow me away totally exceeding my expectations, while a few others did not live up to my expectations. I found this to be true for the brands attending this conference as well, but of course the brands are only as good as the people that represent them, and how genuine those people are.
The fact that I attended Blissdom was a huge deal for me and way out of my comfort zone. I had met a few attendees casually once, but other than that I really didn't know anyone there. I really tried to put myself out there, even if it was difficult, while still protecting that soft marshmallow inner part that can so easily be squished. Here are a few things I learned about attending a conference such as Blissdom. For me some of these were no easy feat:
- Don’t give up. The best might be right around the corner.
- Tomorrow really is a new day. Treat it as such, and approach each day, workshop, and encounter with a positive attitude and in a mind frame that will let you have the best experience possible.
- Set specific limits on your pity-fest, and there will be some of this for most, especially the first time attendees. You are not powerless but you can be your own worst enemy.
- Know your limits and when to take a step back and recharge.
- Just because it is not what you wanted, hoped for or anticipated doesn't mean it is not a good and useful experience – Change Your Lens (learned that from the What Do You Stand For workshop)
- Do your homework: Find out as much about attending a conference as you can and what other first timer’s experiences were like, so you can manage your expectations. I highly recommend going with a friend(s).
- After doing your homework take the time to think about what your expectations are, and how you can manage and change them throughout a conference to ensure you get the most from your conference experience.
- Tweeps and acquaintances are not friends (or the vast majority of them anyways). They are potential friends waiting to happen, and there is a difference.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone over and over again is emotionally exhausting, be prepared for that, especially if you are an introvert. This is where having a friend that understands your stressors and limits can help to link or buffer for you and vice versa.
- Apparently people cannot read your mind, or your telepathic pleas to be invited into one of the groups of happy people who know each other, so you can be part of the awesomeness too. Good news they can’t see your mind’s image of yourself with the giant L on your forehead either.
- Everyone (including you) has an agenda and has paid for this experience. They are all trying to connect and get value from the experience. Don’t take it personally. It is what a conference like this is all about.
- There are some amazing strong women (and men) out there that are impressive to watch in action. That is always cool!
- Don’t let one conference experience stop you from attending another. Learn from the first and take those lessons into the next. If nothing else you always grow in some way from putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone. Next time I feel alone in a crowd, I will find a way to not allow it to escalate to me feeling lonely in a crowd. Remember what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
I hope this doesn't sound negative because I honestly do not view my experience as such. I think some parts were great and others not so much. I think for some parts of the conference "I" was great and others not so much. Finding my personal bliss is not about everything being perfect, it is about the journey to find the best that I can be. I am not and will never be perfect, so the journey continues. To paraphrase from a film 'Change Your Lens' by Dewitt Jones shown at the What Do You Stand For Workshop: It is not about proving yourself; it is about improving yourself every day.