18 Oct, 2011
Some post-Blissdom mulling
There are a lot of posts floating around the blogosphere about the Blissdom Canada conference I attended this past weekend. I’m suffering from a bit of conference hangover, and worse, it’s mixed in with a sore throat and what I’m guessing is a pending cold. I am feeling like a ratty old wrung-out sponge at the moment. I’ve had so much on the go that I’m letting myself get run down, and I don’t want to do that. So I’m lying here on the couch trying to mend. And while I’m mending I’m doing a lot of thinking about the people I met this weekend and the things that I learned at Blissdom.
What I’m about to say is not exactly a new discovery, but it’s something that I need to keep in mind. These past few days have served as a reminder of what things are important for me, and here’s one:
I cannot let my decisions be made in fear. Because this would be stupid.
A life well-lived has to include some risks, because risks have the potential to result in interesting outcomes. But risks are scary. And I should know… I’m a closet introvert who pretends she’s otherwise.
The word “courage” has a rather interesting etymology. “Cor,” in Latin, refers to the heart. In the Middle Ages (circa 1300) it was believed that the heart was where all of our inner feelings and strength came from. It wasn’t until much later the definition of courage was narrowed down to something akin to bravery. But that heart is still in there, isn’t it? (Coeur in French means heart too!) To be brave means you have to have heart, and so to enter into something with all of your heart is, ultimately, to be courageous isn’t it? And that’s how I came to Blissdom.
Little known fact: I was hiding in the ladies room ten minutes before my panel presentation. I can’t believe I’m admitting this here, but I was secretly hoping I’d pass out and get carted off on a stretcher because it’d be less humilating than the total public failure that could occur in front of 150 women I admired and respected. But, you know what, I sucked it up and did it. And I think I did okay. And no stretcher required! Phew.
Life is too short to be ruled by fear. I see fear as some kind of demented traffic cop (”Go this way little lady, it’s easier!”) but I refuse to let him dominate me and tell me where I can and cannot go. Because if I go the EASY way I’d be missing the HARD way. And there might be something very cool and interesting at the end of the hard way.
It’s scary, for some of us, to march up to someone and introduce ourselves. It’s hard to sit down at a table and eat lunch with strangers. It’s a risk. I mean, god, what if I said something stupid? Or got someone’s name wrong? What if I got a piece of parsley wedged in my teeth? (I have done all of these things MANY MANY TIMES.) But but but, if we want to get something out of a conference it has to be done. We must talk to people. We must reach out, shake hands, or sit down with a plate full of food with a table full of strangers and trust that it will end up ok. And it will be ok. Parsley or not.
Amazingly, this is partly where I got the most value out of my time at Blissdom. Those in-between moments were where the best connections were made for me. At Blissdom I often saw people in pairs, huddled together in corners. I could have been that person too. In fact, I have often been that person, the one who only surrounds themselves by people they know and takes the “safe” route, but I think if we do that we’re not taking advantage of the opportunities to meet new people, learn new things, and make new connections. It’s these NEW things, those risks, that make us into better, stronger, smarter people. Of that I am certain.
Other things that have been on my mind:
- Making money off a blog isn’t the be all and end all. It happens to work for me, but it’s not for everyone. You can make money with your blog (i.e. selling ads) or because of your blog (i.e. using your blog as a portfolio of your work). I’ve done both. I don’t know which brings the most satisfaction. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favourite child but I think I’m doing the right thing here. I’ve figured out a way to do this that works for me, and I am happy with that.
- In some circles, selling ads on a personal blog is still seen as selling out. This saddens me a little, and although I don’t care about what people think of me as much as I used to, a small part of me still hopes no one thinks that I’m a sellout. Gah.
- I feel sorry for the poor “review bloggers,” who are seemingly being slammed all over the place. I too miss “the good old days” of blogging where everything revolved around content and community. I don’t spend time visiting review blogs but I accept them for what they are. To think less of them is unfair. It’d be like an investment banker looking down her nose at stay-at-home moms who sell Tupperware, Pampered Chef, or Avon… or authors of fine literature looking down at romance novelists or comic book artists. The world we live in is made up of a whole bunch of different people and there’s room for everyone. Not everyone is meant to become an investment banker or a published writer. Not everyone wants to land a book deal either. If I don’t like a blog, I don’t read it, but people shouldn’t judge that blog (and by extension, the blogger) because their focus is not something they’re interested in.
That and MORE is running through my feverish brain. I should quit while I’m ahead, so I’m off to make a cup of tea, pop some more Ibuprofen and take a nap. If you have thoughts about any of this I would love to hear them… whether you were at Blissdom or not. :)
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