A month ago today, I was on my way to attend the Texas Style Council CAMP--a small, life-changing blogging and small business conference focused on creating a meaningful online presence. (Check out my recap if you're interested in reading the breakdown of my experience.) Since that weekend, I've been reflecting on what I learned about myself and the blogging community. I wanted to share some of my lingering thoughts instead of keeping them bottled inside. I hope you're prepared for a bit of a brain dump... :)
I'm not as outgoing as I thought I was. When I first got to TxSC, I found myself not really talking to anyone unless someone approached me first. During the mixer the first night, I was so overwhelmed at the number of new faces that I made a beeline for the drinks and ended up meeting a few people that way. I did introduce myself to Tieka of Selective Potential because I've been following her blog since before I started mine and I caught her when she wasn't talking to anyone. During the "khaki cool" jamboree, I talked to Caroline of Unfancy when she was alone by the fire (it was rare to see her alone!). I rarely approached someone if they were in conversation with someone else because I did not want to come across as rude. However, I noticed plenty of other people joining in conversations and it never seemed rude...maybe it was because they knew each other? I'm not sure, but I was hyperaware of how I may come across to people. I felt like such an awkward turtle. I hung out mostly with my cabin mates because, as you might expect, we got to know each other the best since we were together every night, sharing sink space and chatting until our eyelids grew heavy. Also, I was not brave enough to just give people my business card after meeting them. I wish I had been, especially because now I have over 100 business cards and no one to give them to.
It was harder to talk about blogging than I thought it would be. As a grad student, I meet with people in my field fairly often and am always discussing "business matters" (i.e. current and future research projects). When I'm with family, everyone asks about school and what I'm doing. I'm used to answering questions about my research even though I dislike them because I can't explain what I do very well. I was nervous that people at TxSC would ask about my research, but not one person did (woo!). Instead, we talked about what we had in common, of course--our online presence, which generally meant blogging. It was exciting to be at a conference and talk about something other than science! With that came a whole new set of challenges, though. Blogging is not something I bring up to people in my everyday life unless it's my boyfriend and I'm bouncing ideas off of him or someone asks me about it. I feel like it's still this thing that no one really takes seriously even though it's such a fun hobby (or even a business) for so many people, me included. Even though I was with all these women who also blogged about their personal style, I still found it hard to talk about it. It sounded silly to me when I mentioned that I blog my style and my cats. No one ever laughed, and I never felt judged (even when I was wearing thrown-together outfits to combat the cold and a ginormous poncho to avoid the rain), but talking about blogging is still new to me. I can say this, though... Because of TxSC, I'm more proud of my blog now than I was just a month ago.
The blogging world needs more friends, mentors, friendtors, and champions. Blogging does not need to be a rat race of who can make it to the top fastest and stay at the top longest. We do not need to feed into the idea that the bigger the following, the better. We do not need to get sucked into having the latest trends and wearing only new pieces in every outfit post. What we do need is more people--fellow bloggers--willing to be friends, mentors, friendtors (friends and mentors), and champions (those who have your back always). We need more people leaving thoughtful comments and fewer people commenting just for the sake of leaving a link back to their blog. We need passionate bloggers who are willing to share their stories. We need more people lifting others up than tearing others down. I want to make connections with bloggers who are on the same level as me--newcomers with meaningful content even if their numbers aren't at the top. I love so much the bloggers I chat with regularly online, and meeting bloggers in real life at TxSC was huge for me. I appreciate the "bigger" bloggers who are still interested in connecting with others. We are all just people trying to get through life and blogging about it on the way, right? Let's continue to cultivate a positive environment for each other and for whoever decides to join the blogging world in the future. :)
Photos by Chelsea Laine Francis