Here I go again, writing about blogging. I swear I’m done after this. I actually, wasn’t even going to write this post-you know the cliche ‘after BlogHer recap” because, quite frankly, I find it difficult to sum up the weekend. I’ve had numerous people ask me about it and I’m always tongue tied in my replies. Usually I manage a smile and a “great” or “refreshing” or “busy”. My words are inadequate to describe my experiences and honestly, part of what makes the weekend valuable to me is that it’s mine and I don’t necessarily want to share.
But I’ve been compelled to speak this time because I’m so struck by the wildly different opinions that people have on the weekend. Everyone is entitled to theirs by the way, I’m not suggesting otherwise. I’m just fascinated by the ones that are so negative.
Here’s the thing, I saw all the same things everyone else saw. I left a few sessions because they were far too crowded and skipped lunch all together one day because the line was like nothing I’d ever seen. I waited way too long for elevators and Starbucks. I got bumped into and no one said, “I’m sorry”. I raced around in the city heat from venue to venue in an effort to forge actual relationships. I saw people shill for swag and I interacted with some inane PR Girls with empty eyes. I saw all of it and totally get why people had moments where they were annoyed.
What I don’t get is the people who choose only that to focus on and even more so the ones that complain about it year after year. Why do you keep coming? I know I wasn’t around in 2000 whatever when it started and was a quaint little party of cool girls. But for the past four or five years, when I have been around (either there or reading about it), BlogHer is always packed. BlogHer always has sessions that skew more toward beginners. BlogHer is always chaotic and loud and sometimes full of annoying people and too much stuff. Why are people always surprised and why are they still complaining about it?
I just don’t get it. Because what I see are hallways full of women I love that I’m certain I would never see in real life if it weren’t for this one weekend in August. What I see are small, less popular sessions where I learn so much about social good, photography or politics that I’m certain I wouldn’t learn otherwise. After all, I’m always a beginner at something. What I see are opportunities to interact with powerful people I know I’d never be exposed to at a smaller conference or in my regular life.
To me, BlogHer is unique in that it provides me with something new every year and exactly more of the same every year. The new stuff comes from sessions I purposely attend or parties with brands I choose to interact with or expo-hall booths I seek out. The new is always surprising and never dull. (Though I’m not sure how they’ll top Katie or The President in years to come!)
The same is the sense of comfort and renewal I feel when spending time with my tribe. The women who make me laugh so hard I think I’ll vomit during VOTY. The women who stay up too late eating cupcakes and solving the problems of the world with me in our jammies. The women who just want to dance or observe the dancing (babies?) with cocktails. The women who I chase around the city trying to just find one minute of conversation. The women who surprise me with their moxie. The women that always impress me, again and again and again. The one I owe it all to. The women who introduce themselves in the hotel bar and pull me into their conversation or the woman who at that very same bar has a great chat with me about home.
To me, BlogHer is about the HER and no matter how big or chaotic or crazy it gets, I will choose to focus on the good.
The first year I went I was overwhelmed and thought I’d never go back because all I could see was that overwhelm. Then I gave it some time and realized there was way more to see than my initial limited vision allowed and probably, I’d never miss it again.
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