Gulp. Today is Friday, July 11th. Do you know what that means?
BlogHer is in a week. It’s not “next month.” It’s not “this summer.” It’s not “in a few weeks.” It’s NEXT WEEK.
Now, I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m really, really, ridiculously shy. I know. I know I hide it well. But honest, seriously, it’s true. No matter where I am, no matter how I look, I always feel like the ugly gawky kid in a room of super popular high school cheerleaders. I constantly worry that someone’s going to notice that I’m not as funny as they thought, as smart as they imagined, or even as nice as I appear. To be honest I’m terrified that anyone might not like me.
I know. It’s dumb. But I can’t stop.
So I fake it. I force a smile on my lips and I throw my shoulders back and I bounce up to you and I chat you up. I’ll comment on your shoes, your hair, your purse, heck, even the coffee in your hands. I’ll be my wittiest, most upbeat self and inside I’ll be holding my breath. Please like me, please talk to me, please be my friend.
Back in the day I used to lure an unsuspecting friend with me to all social functions. Preferably someone equally shy who wouldn’t mind hanging around the outskirts of the party with me so I wouldn’t ever be alone. But in recent years I realized that I had to grow up and start braving social situations on my own, and so I started making myself go to things on my own.
“How bad could it be?” I asked myself. If I hated everyone I’d just leave and never go back. And if I did something horribly embarrassing no one would know me and it wouldn’t really matter in the end.
I joined a book club. I went to meetings and met really nice women. And then they started dropping out, one by one. And I tried so hard not to think that I was the cause. But well, they started leaving after I joined and even left me holding the bag, so it was hard not to feel like the pariah.
I joined a group of bloggers starting a little venture. And that worked out better than the book club. I stayed away from the first few get-togethers because I was sure someone would call me out as a fraud. Me? A writer? What a joke. Now I go to every event and I chat up as many people as possible. And when they can’t remember my blog’s name I don’t feel crushed because, let’s be honest, I rarely remember theirs.
I go to parties without my husband if he can’t come. I grab a drink and I scout the room for a friendly face. I say something nice and try hard to keep the conversation going. I crash clusters of people already in lively conversations. I beg for introductions. And sometimes I have a ton of fun and meet new people.
I’ll even go so far as to chat up strangers in stores.
I’ve faked the lack of shyness for so long that I’m even starting to believe that I’m not as shy as I used to be. Maybe I’m growing up and realizing that everyone is terrified that they won’t be liked.
And then I go and sign up for a huge event like BlogHer. 1000 bloggers under one roof. 1000 reasons to want to curl into a little ball and not come out until two weeks from now.
The whole point of the conference is to network and meet new people, to hype my blogs and gain new readers, and to soak it all in and learn as much as possible. On any given day that would be terrifying enough, but actually it’s worse.
“Worse?” You ask.
Yes worse. Worse because I actually know some of these people. In fact I know quite a few of them.
“How could that make it worse? Great! You’ll be with people you know!”
Well, it’s simple really. I “know” these people without knowing them at all. I know their kids. I know their fears. I know their favorite potty training anecdotes. I know how they feel about their inlaws. I know where they like to shop. Heck I even know some of their favorite sex toys. But I don’t know them, and for the most part I don’t even know what they look like. So odds are I’m going to chat up a lot of people and act like I know nothing about them and half way through the conversation I’ll smack my head and say something like “OH! You’re that chick! The one who…” Or worse, I’ll have no clue who the person is and she’ll know exactly who I am and I’ll feel like a shmuck for not recognizing a faithful reader.
So, ahem, do me a huge favor, if you’re at BlogHer next week and I chat you up and act like a total dufuss, forgive me will ya? I’m going to try to remember you, your blog name, and you’re first grade teacher’s hair color, but odds are I’m going to fail miserably and I promise it’s not because I don’t love you and think you ROCK. It’s just because I’ll be really busy trying to convince you that I’m not ridiculously shy and hoping against hope that you like me.