Rays of sun broke through grey clouds as the plane’s wings tipped upon our decent into Toronto, and my heart skipped a beat. After years of reading about conferences and then months of planning my trips to Blissdom Canada, this time it was really happening.
Back in 2010 I was invited to my first blogging and social media conference as a speaker. For me it was shocking, really. I had never expected that my venture into social media would be the introduction to a community of people across the country. At first, I was terrified. What if nobody spoke to me? What if I found myself alone in a corner? It’s easy to be yourself online, in words rather than face to face - you can shut the computer off, you can think and re-word responses, you can carefully calculate what you are going to say. Real life is completely different, and suddenly all these people I had talked to were going to be right there in front of me.
I had gone to Blissdom Canada with no expectations, and there I was, hyperventilating in my hotel room, terrified that I was going to mess up before I took a deep breath and dove in, feet first.
What I found was inspiration from fellow writers, friendships, and a community that I am proud to be part of. Blissdom allows bloggers to teach each other how to hone our craft, support each other, and spend time with each other offline. I can’t even begin to say how valuable it is; there’s something about having met someone personally that solidifies a working relationship with them. There’s also something incredibly inspiring to be with people who actually understand you. They know what it’s like to try to flesh out an article at 1 am, or get your Twitter jokes. You know who you can chat with when you’ve had a bad day, who will encourage you to keep going, and that if you need help, will be there for you. We are all in this together, after all.
his year, I went back to Blissdom Canada with a wonderful sponsorship from Chicken Farmers of Canada and instead of being terrified, it felt like I was going home to see friends. While I didn’t speak, having the chance to mentor and talk to new bloggers as a Food blogging Tribe leader was an amazing opportunity to give back to the community for the inspiration and support I have received over and over again.
Conferences may be once a year, but the memories and the connections stay with you far beyond the two days you are there. I find that the inspiration and friendships carry me through even the tough times throughout the year when I begin to stumble. Last week, I wandered through a store looking for a gift for a dear friend who is sick, my eyes filling with tears. What do you buy a friend who has cancer? The strains of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” from Blissdom’s video began to play, and it was as though the universe was reminding me that things would be okay.
Keep calm, and carry on. We’ve got your back.