I arrived alone, and I left alone. In between I built on past relationships and set the foundation for new ones, but ultimately it was me. Alone. Like I am all day, every day. Just me.

mevoty

Instead of sharing a hotel room with another blogger like last year, I stayed with family members who happened to live five minutes away from the convention center. It was the only way I could afford to attend this year’s BlogHer, cutting corners and accepting hospitality. Ultimately, this fostered relationships with relatives I only get to see infrequently, so I didn’t mind in the slightest that I was away from the hub of excitement. I probably slept more than I did last year. Hell, Ariana Huffington cheekily told us to “sleep our way to the top.” You could say I was just following orders.

me+poster

When I showed up to meals by myself, I’d search the room for familiar faces. As I am chronically early for events, I’d sit by myself and wait for people to join me, or I’d approach a table and ask to join them even if I knew no one there. I’d munch my chocolate croissant and guzzle coffee without intimidation. I write. I blog. I belong here. My greatest takeaway from this year’s BlogHer is that people don’t have to like me for me to like myself. If no one appreciates me I can move to another table. There’s always a table where I will be appreciated; I just have to find it, or let it find me.

me+katia

If I saw a familiar face, I approached it and introduced myself. I’m a fan of your work, I’d say. Or I’d just strike up a conversation in line for the bathroom, and meet like-minded souls that way. There were people who did not care to meet me, so I set them aside and moved on rather than fawn over them and try to win them over. I’m done with the acrobatics of trying to make everyone like me. BlogHer has encouraged that in me, too.

me+ladies

It’s not like me, this confidence. Where did it come from? Sure I had it when I was a girl, but years of bullying and people trying to force me into their boxy idea of who I should be made me doubt myself. Lately, I give no fucks about who people think I should be. I love it. I write. I blog. I belong here.

me+lefties

I went to the seminars I wanted to go to, left the ones that didn’t fit what I needed. I absorbed. I listened to people’s stories. People’s stories mesmerize me, transform me. Like A’Driane Nieves‘ story. And Janelle Hanchett‘s story. And Ashley Garrett‘s story. I will tell you now without an ounce of shame that I cried during their VOTY readings. Stories are how I connect with the world around me, how I can feel what you’re feeling and laugh with you and cry with you and rage with you. I seek out these stories because I want to connect. I don’t want to always be alone.

me+sarah

But I am alone. Yes I spent time with women bloggers and writers whom I love. You know who you are, ladies, and you encourage me to be my confident self, my best version of myself.

me+julie

Still, I am alone. I came home from BlogHer full of stories, and now it’s just me and my laptop. We all retreated back from whence we came, behind our screens, reaching out to one another through the void.

me+steph

This is why I tell my stories. After a month-long blogging hiatus, a painful separation from my writing, I was beginning to wonder why I do it. Am I adding to the noise? It feels like my stories don’t matter sometimes, like I don’t matter. The world doesn’t need another itinerate alcoholic writer performing what amounts to public emotional masturbation, does it?

voty

I don’t care if it does anymore. I need to tell my story. I need you to tell your story. This is how we connect.

Also, this happened.

Also, this happened.


Comments

The Un-Recap BlogHer Recap — 59 Comments

  1. Kudos for going to BlogHer ’14 + having such strength in your voice. We all have a story that should be told + shared… who knows what our tales can do for someone else. They can offer comfort, a laugh, a way to relate. I really respect your approach to blogging + the competitive blog world. We all have “our place” in blogging, it’s just a matter of finding out where that is 🙂
    Caitlin | belong with wildflowers recently posted…{July} Month in Review.My Profile

  2. You look amazing and I’m so happy you were able to go. And what a treat, to see some family you don’t usually get to visit! Congrats again on VOTY. You earned that, and it fills me with a sense of rightness in the world that you are being recognized for your talents. I love keeping up with you through your writing, and I hope that you continue blogging no matter what kind of success comes your way. You definitely belog. For sure.
    celeste recently posted…Nanakuli SideMy Profile

  3. No, I really need stories too.

    I can see where it could seem like public emotional masturbation, but I love to masturbate as much as I love to write. As much as I love to read. Sex, storytelling, fun. It’s okay to have fun and feel good. I’ve been reading a lot of people come back from BlogHer disappointed, feeling like blogging isn’t writing. If it’s not writing, what am I reading?

    It is writing, it is stories, I need those stories. Sometimes it is to escape, sometimes to inspire, and sometimes it is to laugh about poop jokes and I need all of it.
    Jenny recently posted…Doppelgangers: The Ultimate Throwback Thursday EditionMy Profile

  4. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

    I’ve enjoyed reading the other’ recaps but I think yours is by far my favorite. Why? Because I, too, am often alone and I often wonder why I do this writing/blogging thing. It’s challenging and frightening and annoying and yet so rewarding all at once. It’s enough to drive so many of us absolutely batshit crazy.

    And the alcoholic writer? I get it. Big time.

    Keep writing my friend. We need people like you out in this crazy blogging world.
    Kim recently posted…Adios, July. It’s Been Real…Fun. Crazy. Whatev.My Profile

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. It can really drive us crazy when we let it, but I find that the more I let go, the more enjoyment I get from it. That’s not to say I don’t go crazy from time to time, lol.

  5. I wish I had met you. I am reading all these recaps and thinking, “Darn it!” I tell my story. I tell it for myself and to get the thoughts out of my head. Generally, if someone reads it, all the better 🙂 As a lady with two cats, I will have to add you to my feedly 🙂
    Jen recently posted…A Blogher 2014 Re-CapMy Profile

  6. Comparing your re-cap this year with last year, you sound much more confident and at ease. Even if this past year has been a doozy on other fronts, I like the peace you have found with your writing and it looks great on you!
    Ellen recently posted…All Together NowMy Profile

  7. Keep doing what you love to do they way you like to do it. Way too many people spend time doing things that make them miserable – you can’t put a price on joy & happiness. Ps. The weekend off still stands if you & Mike need an inexpensive getaway 🙂

  8. Hi Natalie, I loved your inner monologue here. It can be daunting being at these kinds of events but it sounds like you took lots away, even on the observational aspect! Sometimes I quite enjoy being on my own at big events as I find having the ability to be incognito is quite liberating. Interesting also to hear a little about what a blogging conference culture is like.
    Glasgowdragonfly recently posted…Interview with Glasgow born author, Linda HuberMy Profile

  9. I appreciate being able to learn about BlogHer second-hand from you. It’s a world I want to know more about, a world that I wonder is if I imagine (are they ever?). It’s comforting to read something obviously real about your experience. I relate to those nagging questions you ask yourself…
    Lauren Kells recently posted…Curb your entitlementMy Profile

  10. This is exactly how I feel…sometimes like I don’t matter, and I’m just another voice in thousands. But you are so right. I need your story, and you need mine. And the world is better that we are all out there telling our stories to each other. I loved your VOTY piece, so keep those stories coming. I’ll be reading 🙂
    Mamarific recently posted…The Words I Should Have SaidMy Profile

  11. I like you! 🙂

    Also, I cried buckets at VOTY. I needed to replenish. I loved the same ones you mentioned – loved all of them, really – but these ones were really touching.

  12. That’s how it was for me at my first BlogHer. I was 5 months into blogging and didn’t know what was going on, but decided to check it out since it was happening in New York and I was able to stay with friends in the city.
    I met a few people that I was just getting to know online and the rest was just flitting around, finding my own way and saying hello to everybody. (A lot of times being a real bozo “I LOVE your blog!”) It’s wonderful how it’s evolved; how, like you, I have met and befriended people and continue to meet new friends. But I know exactly what you mean about that feeling of wanting to be liked. I wish I were at the point you are of feeling secure and not giving a you-know-what. It still kind of dogs me. And I know I’ve rubbed people the wrong way and that dogs me too, as much as I’ve tried to turn that around. I’ve been to 5 conferences so far and quite honestly, they scare the bejezuz out of me. It doesn’t matter how nice and accepting people are – it’s a scary thing going to one of these things, and we owe it to ourselves to hyper extend an arm as we pat ourselves on the back for putting ourselves out there. I loved spending time with you Nat and how cool was it that we were both VOTY’s the same year?! And thanks for passing the tissues during the VOTY readings. Dang. Such amazing words.
    Linda Roy recently posted…BlogHer’14: My Therapist Was RightMy Profile

  13. Absolutely the most profound thought about BlogHer and the blogging community I’ve read so far. xoxoxo
    “I write. I blog. I belong here. My greatest takeaway from this year’s BlogHer is that people don’t have to like me for me to like myself. If no one appreciates me I can move to another table. There’s always a table where I will be appreciated; I just have to find it, or let it find me.”
    Lucy Ball recently posted…A.D.D. By Proximity – It’s A Real ThingMy Profile

  14. I am NOT tearing up right now, but yes. The world needs for you to tell your story. It needs for me to tell mine. Ok fine whatever, the world needs it but may not hear it. We still need to tell them, though. I loved BlogHer, and since then, have not really felt inspired, but alone, because I am. We all are. And alone sucks but is also what I’m coming to believe that writers are. I mean, when I think about the asshole popular bitches on the playground of my youth and my kid’s experience? They are so the dicks. But, well, yeah. All of it. Here we are, back at our keyboards. I’m having a really hard time with the WHY. And the time and the my stories don’t matter. And then, I come here, and realize that they do. At least a tiny bit. And well, thank you, for sharing yours. Your story makes all of our stories matter more.
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…It Is With This BodyMy Profile

  15. I am a lazy, shitty blogger who is about two weeks late to this gorgeous party of yours. This is the best kind of un-recap. (I didn’t even write one this year-oops…) I’m honored to be included in yours, as you were a major part of my experience this year. It’s surreal to have been so together for those days, and now to not be. It feels like a hallucination. I’m glad you don’t give any of the fucks about the stupid things, and that no matter if you (and I, and all of us) are just adding to the noise, that you will keep writing, keep blogging. You enhance my blogging world, and my real world as well. xoxo
    Stephanie Sprenger recently posted…I Can’t Decide If I Want To Have Another BabyMy Profile

  16. Ok this has been driving me nuts lately… I do not understand how BlogHer works at all! lol Is that dumb of me? I’ve been there but I just don’t get it?

    Anyway, I think it’s awesome that you went alone and did it all by yourself. For me that would be so hard!

    I, for one, am very glad you choose to keep writing your stories. I love to read them.
    Jen Brunett recently posted…O Robin! My Robin!My Profile

  17. I haven’t yet had the courage (or the money) to go to a live blog conference, but this post will definitely be kept tucked away for when I finally do.

    Your writing reminds me a lot of Dorothy Allison, and her memoir ‘Two or Three Things I Know For Sure’– “Two or three things I know, two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living I have to tell stories, that stories are the one sure way I know to touch the heart and change the world.”

    I’d love to keep reading your story. 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…Not Dead, I PromiseMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: