Last year, my experience was not fabulous. Part of it was definitely on me, as I found it really hard to put myself out there. I was uncomfortable, I felt rushed, and I almost came home halfway through the day.
This year was not like last year at all.
First of all, I took my own advice from last year's conference. I wore comfortable clothes, and brought a number of options. I
As I said, I stayed at the hotel, and I think that was the best decision I could have possibly made. I had a couple of awesome roommates in Katie and Elan. I was able to go to the parties with the backup plan of hanging out in my room reading if it was too much. Just having that option made me so much more comfortable; I only ended up hiding out by myself for about 15 minutes the whole weekend. (Also, the room was LOVELY and I had somewhere to keep all my extra pants.)
There were people that I was looking forward to seeing again (Christa was the very first person who talked to me last year, and kept me from running back out the door, and Tara, I met at the welcome breakfast.), as well as people I was looking forward to meeting in real life for the first time (Looking at you, Shannon!). If you're thinking of attending something like this, take to Twitter! Join a facebook group of attendees, and find yourself some people! It's much easier (for me anyway) to walk into a room knowing there's someone in there who already wants to talk to you.
Socially, I think I did much better. More comfortable in a more laid back environment, with a place to hide if need be, I found it much easier to say yes.
When Kyla dragged me into a lineup, I said yes. When Julie offered me some wine, I said yes. When Lesley urged me to try on a dress from Rent Frock Repeat, I said yes (although that might've had a little to do with the wine). When Sunshine sat down beside me and started a conversation, I put my phone down and got to know her. I enjoyed the wine, and the dress, and - lord knows - the conversation. I'm happy to say that I met some pretty interesting new people, who I'm already looking forward to seeing again next year (if not sooner!).
The conference itself was also better. Spreading it out over two days the way they did made everything more relaxed. We didn't have to storm through a crowded room between too close tables to try and make it to the sessions we wanted. There was time (and space) between them. The sponsors (who were awesome) were also more spread out, allowing people to actually enter their space and talk to them, rather than trying to be heard over the teeming crowd behind them.
Basically, I had fun.
|Blurry and fun... pretty much sums it up.|
I'm really glad that I took notes though, because I'm realising that I don't remember much other than that. Now I just need to go sort through them, and put some of the great ideas I picked up into use.
*A Special thanks to anyone who's putting up links to their talks and sessions!