Cupcake '10 was small and even cozy. It was at times over-stimulating and other times completely peaceful and intimate and raw and real. It was beautiful, really. (We're sharing much more about it (including photos) over on the Cupcake blog.) All drama (of the weather and traveling variety) aside, we had an absolutely lovely time together.
There were less than 30 women at Cupcake, and yet I found myself thinking about how I was having many of the same feelings and experiences that I've had at bigger events. Then I started to think about blogging events in general and will now share with you my very scientifically studied top ten things to be prepared for when attending any blogging event...
(OK fine, they aren't studied. They are more like something a person thinks about on a seven hour trip home while trying to stay awake. So they may be a bit tinged with delirium. Just so you know.)
1. No matter how comfortable you are in your own skin. No matter how confident you are about yourself or even your blog, you will experience anxiety. This anxiety will most likely hit you the hardest as you enter the event and scan all the faces, most of them either foreign to you or only vaguely familiar, as if you were seeing them through a computer screen. You will look for wine or mutter prayers to yourself while you force yourself to keep walking. All the while, through your nerves, you will be grinning from ear to ear without really knowing why. Then most certainly you will be approached with BIG HUGS while you take a deep breath and say (hopefully INSIDE your head) "I can DO this."
2. Almost no one looks anything at all like their avatar or profile picture. So you will second-guess yourself upon warmly greeting someone. And even might get mixed up at some point and say, "Oh HI (fill in the blank with wrong name). I LOVE your blog." Then you will feel more anxiety as you realize from "fill in the blank's" confused look that you are dead wrong. Then you will get to dig a deeper hole while you try to explain that so and so looks like such and such "but I do really know who you are."
3. It's hard to sneak glances at someone's name/blog name on their name tag to double-check if you're remembering them correctly. Especially if you've been introduced once already in the last 24 hours or you feel as if you know them. This is especially difficult if their name tag is dangling from a lanyard because then you have to look down at their belly button for your quick re-check glance. All of this might get you thinking about how strange it is to feel like you know someone when you don't know some very important bits of information about them. Then you will be glad you're there, to learn these bits in person.
4. Prepare to be up to the wee hours of the morning talking until your voice is rough and your throat is raw. There really is no end to the exceptionally witty, talented and friendly people to chat it up with at a blogging event.
5. Even if your life is full to the brim with good friends and family, be prepared for the inevitable stretching of your heart to make room for more. Because even if you feel a bit leery about whether or not you actually KNOW these people, if you feel a kinship with a blog friend on-line, it is likely you will look at them and talk to them in person and know for certain you've found yet another very good friend to love.
6. Sometimes you will know exactly what people are talking about because hey, you're with fellow bloggers. And other times you will have NO idea what social media language people are speaking. It's best not to ask though, because if you do, everyone will start explaining at once and you'll get all overwhelmed and possibly even anxious again. You can always just jot a note before you head to bed (around 3 a.m.) as a reminder to yourself to ask Google later. Google is a lot quieter even if he is sometimes just as overwhelming.
7. You will most certainly meet a large number of bloggers who are new to you that you will be SO glad to have found.
8. You will most likely cry. Several times. Because blogging is all about stories and people and when they're shared in person they are inspiring and moving and sometimes sad and you just totally get it.
9. Expect the unexpected. No matter what your preconceived notions are about what an event will be like, most likely you will be wrong about at least some of your assumptions. There will be parts of the event that are exactly what you hoped (or didn't hope) for, and then other things will completely surprise you. You will leave and after you've had some time decompress, you will almost always end up saying to yourself (and anyone else who will pretend to listen), "that was amazing." Because bloggers are a diverse, intense and perspective-giving group of people. And people are always so much more than you imagined them to be. This makes me want to do a play on "can't judge a book by it's cover" cause there's so much more inside with something like "can't judge a blogger by their header" or something, but I won't.
10. You will miss everyone after you leave.
P.S. Although many blogging events bring on the same feelings and experiences, I must add that Cupcake had a completely different vibe to it overall. More on that to come...