This is how I feel this morning.
I spent the past couple days in Nashville at the annual Blissdom blogging conference. Two full days of blogging and writing and social media and photography and walking and walking and walking and walking and talking and talking and talking.
I think I strained my brain.
And I’ve got some mean blisters.
Today I’m feeling that uncomfortable feeling where my brain is whirling with new thoughts and ideas and inspiration. But I’m also tired and overwhelmed I can barely put two thoughts together. Like I’m wired and exhausted all at once.
Seeing as I needed to make sense of what just happened this weekend, I wrote up this piece both before, during, and after the conference to share my thoughts:
So much anxiety. I spent the day in knots, going back and forth between sheer nerves and excitement. And then nerves and excitement at the same time.
For the first time in forever, I packed light. This is a monumental success for me, the girl who tries to bring her entire hair-doing arsenal and makeup and several different outfit choices.
When Dan and Kate dropped me off at the airport, and I made my way inside, I broke down into a teary, sobbing mess. And not the sweet looking I’ll miss you tears but full on ugly cry.
I wiped my tears before lining up at security because I didn’t want them to think I was unstable and take me in for questioning.
At the security check, I whipped out my liquids and laptop and got my shoes off like a pro. In fact, one of the TSA agents told me he hasn’t seen anyone move with such speed and agility in a long time. Thank you, TSA agent, you completely made my day.
I made my way to the gate, stopped at Cosi for a chicken TBM and a large diet Coke, checked emails, and before I knew it, boarded my flight.
We sat around for what seemed like forever. I checked Twitter and started getting antsy reading everyone’s Tweets about checking into Blissdom.
We finally took off, and I started to relax. It’s hard to leave Kate and Dan. And I guess Belle. But I keep repeating my mantra “this is good for me, this is good for me.”
After we landed, I caught a bus to the Opryland. When we pulled up and I saw the multiple entrances and the vastness of the hotel, I knew I was in trouble. Then I knew I was in deep trouble when I received a map and very specific directions to my hotel room. Directions like “turn left, walk 500 paces, turn right at the ATM, turn left at the large tree, walk 100 paces, turn around, find the waterfall, do a couple lunges, then sit down and cry because you’re lost.”
I am directionally challenged in my own town. And I am incapable of reading maps. Also, it was almost 7 p.m., and my contacts were adhered to my retinas. So, this made it difficult to discern the letter “C” from the letter “G,” which is a major deal at this hotel where the elevators are labeled “C1,” “C2,” “G1,” and “G2.”
If you guessed that all these elevators bring you to entirely separate areas of the hotel, you’d be right.
So, there I was, lugging all my stuff around and around the hotel, sweating, and cursing my astigmatism. After about 45 minutes, I finally found my room. I considered never leaving my room because I wasn’t sure how I got here, and I was certain I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. But, the first event already started, and I knew it would be a good idea to try to meet some people before the first conference day. So I freshened up as best I could, grabbed my map, and set off to find the correct set of elevators.
The evening event took place at one of the many reception areas, and it was in full swing when I got there. Since I came alone and didn’t know anyone, walking into this event cold felt just as awkward as you would think.
Eventually, I found my way back to my room that night, and I spent some time that evening making sense of the map. Friday and Saturday I walked and walked and walked, received more swag than I could pack up and take back home, and took some awesome sessions and some not-so-awesome sessions.
My emotions ran the full gamut that weekend. From this is so inspiring I could die to I can’t take this anymore and I want to go home. It was a tough go alone. I did my fair share of standing around alone, eating lunch alone, and sitting at tables alone. At first the being alone part ate me up inside. But by Saturday, I accepted the aloneness and embraced doing what I wanted, when I wanted.
On my way home, I felt I like I was underwater. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good time. But it turned out differently than I thought. I worried I wasted my time at the conference because I didn’t make as many connections as I hoped. Instead I spent most of my time gaping at the wildness of the event, soaking in all the learning I could, and getting lost. In no particular order, I almost accidently made myself part of: a Mac tool conference, two family reunions, and a wedding. I am not exaggerating this getting lost thing, no indeed.
I like to squeeze out as much as I can from any event I attend. I like to really wring it out and get my money’s worth. So when I walked away with hundreds of reusable bags and lots of inspiring thoughts but not a lot of business cards or new friends, I thought I did it wrong.
But then I realized that this is my first conference. I had no idea what to expect (nor did I know I should have been studying a map of this place for weeks in advance). So considering all the new ideas and fresh perspectives I gathered up and added to my thinking arsenal, I did pretty good. And perhaps most importantly, I took time off from my mommy and wife role to steep myself in something I love. And that time away to just be Sarah really did me good.