Losing out

I’m back. Back from a week of holidays from both my job and from this blog. I needed a rest and to feel unencumbered for a while. I wanted to be spontaneous with my days and in the evenings. I read very few blogs and enjoyed long stretches of time with Jay. I needed it. To be honest I still do. I can’t say I am rested and ready to pick up where I left off.  I had a frenetic week full of preparations for my trip to New York. I feel more tired now than I did a week ago. Tomorrow I go back to work. Though thankfully just for a few days.

Today I need to do little writing. To explore my feelings and emotions in the aftermath of BlogHer ’10. While I’d love to write about my enthusiasm for the conference, I can’t. In fact, I still don’t know exactly how I feel. I’m still processing.

Going in I was worried that I had too much emotion invested in this event. I wasn’t nervous. Not at all. Just anxious that it wouldn’t be what I hoped for and had come to believe it was. That should have been my first warning. It wasn’t possible for it to measure up to my expectations.

My first mistake was attending with two dramatically different goals. I was there for the sake of my own blog, to meet the people I have connected with because of it and to be inspired to keep it moving forward. But I also expected learning that would be relevant to what I do professionally. This was misguided. Though the session descriptions led me to believe differently, they were of no use to me professionally. The content, in my opinion, was weak and much too informal. I was disappointed and surprised. In fairness, had I attended sessions that were of interest to me personally, I may have felt differently.

But my disappointment comes from more than just the sessions. It was an overall feeling of  inadequacy and not belonging. I met some fantastic bloggers, some who I consider to be close friends.  And though not everyone was who I believed them to be, most were that and more. But because I was so eager for opportunities to learn, I wasn’t as focused  on the socializing and parties for which BlogHer is famous. That was perhaps my biggest mistake. I assumed it wouldn’t matter. But it did and I never found my groove. I felt uncomfortable, disappointed and pulled in too many directions. I went looking for good content, and when I realized I wouldn’t be getting it, it was too late to regroup.

Of course, I’m only one blogger. One who went with expectations that were too high and who hoped for too many things. I was also intensely disappointed by a few people who I thought would be so much different. And I let it all colour my experience. I let it take over and I lost out.

And so this post isn’t meant to be a judgment of the event as a whole, particularly since I write this when I am so tired and perhaps not my most objective. It’s meant to remind me not to place too much stock in hype. Or if I do, to at least better understand what the hype is really all about. Then there won’t be any surprises.


48 thoughts on “Losing out

  1. Lindsey says:

    I felt the same way – uncomfortable and like I never found my groove with many of the people I wanted to meet (you included! :)). I left with a strong feeling of not belonging which was disappointing and kind of sad. Not sure there are other BlogHers in my future! 😦

  2. Lara says:

    I'm sorry you came away from the event feeling that way :(Overall my experience was fabulous, but I too had some disappointments both from people and from the conference itself. It's hard! I'm definitely keen on going to another one if I can though.

  3. Capital Mom says:

    I'm really sorry to hear that your experience wasn't what you were expecting. It must have been hard to have two differnt types of objectives (personal and professional). I found the sessions I went to very helpful and inspiring. But maybe I lucked out on those sessions. If you are interested in listening to those podcasts I will past the info along.

  4. TKW says:

    BRAINFLASH! Not only does BlogHer need a Serenity Suite, they need an Insecurity Suite. For all of us, who just like you, felt untethered and lost in a sea of faces. ((you)) Totally understand.

  5. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh Christine, I'm so sorry that it wasn't everything you has hoped it would be. I know how much you were looking forward to it. Was there at least one highlight to the journey?

  6. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh Christine, I'm so sorry that it wasn't everything you has hoped it would be. I know how much you were looking forward to it. Was there at least one highlight to the journey?

  7. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh Christine, I'm so sorry that it wasn't everything you has hoped it would be. I know how much you were looking forward to it. Was there at least one highlight to the journey?

  8. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh Christine, I'm so sorry that it wasn't everything you has hoped it would be. I know how much you were looking forward to it. Was there at least one highlight to the journey?

  9. Alita- Da Mainiacs says:

    I have high expectations as well. I didn't attend the blogher conference, but I haven't been blogging an entire year yet either. I am positive that I would have had the same feelings as you. It is too bad that you spent the time, money, energy, and brain power for a event that you didn't get anything out of. I hope that once you ponder it some more you will get something out of it. Or maybe another perspective. Here is to the rest of your summer and a shorter work week, too. That is positive! 🙂

  10. ShannonL says:

    So sorry to hear, my friend. I had hoped it would be everything you wanted it to be and more – both personally AND professionally. Sounds like it fell flat on both ends for you. When we build anticipation for something and have high expectations (or too many expectations), it can often lead to disapointment. A smaller scale example of this is a movie. When you hear about how great a movie is and everyone talks about it and you feel like you're the only one who hasn't seen it, and then you finally go see it… and you don't like it. Because it just doesn't seem NEARLY as good as everyone had said. The expectations were too high. Don't be too disapointed. It was a lot to digest in a very small amount of time. But I'm really sorry that it wasn't everything you were hoping for. xoxo

  11. Dawn says:

    That's too bad ~ I think your expectations should be high because of the investment. I've only recently heard of this conference and am interested in it for next year. But I know my expectations would be high too. I attended Story Circle Network Conference in Austin this past February & it was the first time I ever felt like I really did fit ~ that's so important!

  12. Cathy says:

    Managing expectations is so hard! You helped me realize why it is so hard for me to hope, to wish, to want. I am mostly let down whenever I do. My most recent example is my 40th birthday weekend. Oh the expectations and oh, sigh, the disappointment. It was just another weekend.

  13. This Heavenly Life says:

    Ugh. There's nothing more disappointing than dashed expectations 😦 So sorry the conference wasn't more in line with what you'd needed and wanted from it!But I'm glad you're back 🙂

  14. Sarah says:

    oh sweet woman. you have to know how absolutely amazing it was for me to spend time with you this weekend. and that i understand every word of what you wrote. and that if i had to do it over again i still would. and i don't even know what i'd change. but i wouldn't choose not to go because i wouldn't have met you in person. sweet, genuine, amazing you. xo

  15. Alex@LateEnough says:

    Okay, so I'm unbelievable glad you were there even though it was hard for you. Could I be more selfish? But I'm just so glad to know you on another level.

  16. Corinne says:

    I'm sorry there were such mixed emotions Christine. I think most of us left a little overwhelmed and in need of a bit of perspective. I really enjoyed the (albeit… two…) sessions I attended, and am sorry the rest didn't live up to expectations. Maybe after you've had some time away from it all you'll have other thoughts on it? I know I'm still processing!

  17. Kate says:

    Big events always leave me flat. They expectation of excellence, of fun, of connections. I never live up to my dream of the event. I'm sorry your weekend wasn't better!

  18. Amy Whitley says:

    I've never been, so I read your feelings on it with interest. I can imagine how it would happen this way (and probably would for me, too!). Blogging is a weird mixture of belonging and friendship contrasted with competition and exclusivity, and I imagine a conference in person would be all that and more. Wish you'd had a better experience. I'm attending my first travel blogging conference (for my travel site) next summer, and my expectations are already high. Eeeep.

  19. Melissa says:

    Expectations are so hard. You can't very well avoid them entirely, but the real thing compared the thing we imagine… it takes so much energy to reconcile the two sometimes. Sigh. I hope this week is restful and restorative for you!

  20. Amber says:

    I'm sorry that you came away disappointed. That's … disappointing. (I am clearly not at my most eloquent.)What you're writing here is actually useful to me, since I am planning on attending next year. I guess that I need to be very clear with what I'm expecting, and what the event is, before I go. I appreciate that you shared that experience, for people like me.

  21. Ellen says:

    Hey. I am sitting here writing up my own Blog Her post, and thought of you! I also felt overwhelmed, though I was very glad to have sat and talked with you for a decent length of time.

  22. Leslie says:

    Welcome home! I don't know that BlogHer is in my future (though I wish I had the chance to meet you!), but I'm interested in your insights and glad you're home for some post-vacation decompression. Enjoy easing back in to work and home and the everyday.

  23. Stacia says:

    I always do that. Build up my expectations so that nothing can ever meet them. I hope some rest and reflection and return to routine gives you more insight, as you mentioned. Sending hugs and sweeter dreams.

  24. Charlotte says:

    That stinks. I was a little content disappointed by the conference I went to, too, but I kept reminding myself I came to meet the people I "know." Maybe I was more successful because the conference I attended was so much smaller? I was hoping to attend Blogher someday for more intensive content, but maybe I will hold off and stick with smaller conferences.

  25. Krista says:

    Honestly, this has been one of my fears with the conferences. Probably one of the main reasons I haven't attended yet. I really want to go and learn so much, yet it seems like everyone else is going for the free swag and the parties. So I wonder if the panels are just an after thought – how much knowledge will I really take away? I really want to try and go to Blissdom Canada. That will be my first conference and maybe because it's smaller the panels will be better? I'm just sorry that it didn't live up to your expectations. Hopefully it won't take you long to come to a point of acceptance and peace with it.

  26. Jana @ An Attitude Adjustment says:

    Here you are, back to doing what you do so well in your blog–honesty. I didn't really have any expectations, so while the first day was tiring, the weekend as a whole for me was great. I got some alone time, met some amazing people (like you, Sarah, Alex, Becca, and more), and learned a bit about how powerful this blogging world is. I think the conference gave me a bit more confidence about what it is I'm doing here.

  27. Danielle says:

    Awww. I'm so sorry you didn't have the blast you were hoping for. I went with a few 'real life' friends and we often commented on how scared we would be to do things solo if we hadn't come with each other so we often tried to welcome other people to our tables and meals and conversations. Some of the sessions were awesome and some put me to sleep…. to be fair my lack of sleep did NOT help the sleepiness but I felt uncomfortable just getting up and leaving sometimes so my own nervousness impeded my own growth. (wah!).I think if I were to do it over, I'd force myself out of the comfort zone of my friends and reach to meet more new people,,, and ya know.. force them to be my friend!:)

  28. Kameron says:

    Aww. I'm sorry it wasn't all you had hoped and more. I can say that I really enjoyed meeting you and talking over Chinese food! The conversation we had about the angels got me really thinking. So if you weren't inspired just know, at the very least, you inspired someone else. :o)

  29. LZ says:

    I had the best time hanging out with you, and am so glad you were there! I was really hoping to get more blogging info and inspiration, but it seems the focus was elsewhere this year. Too much focus on parties, swag, etc. when some of us were just looking to talk about blogging, to get better at it, and make/deepen friendships. I understand your frustration! Next stop, CanadHer!!!

  30. confused homemaker says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think conferences (any) are hard, but it seems like Blogher has a great emphasis on the social. Maybe that makes it more challenging for people to find their comfort zone & to organize the content for presentations.

  31. Ronnica says:

    Sorry to hear this. I think it's always hard when we've built up an event to be something…often something that it is not.

  32. DaniGirl says:

    This was so interesting to read, Christine. The main reason I have avoided BlogHer for all these years is fearing exactly what you found, that it wuold be all about the swag and the commercialization and that I'd feel lost and inadequate, on the outside looking in even at the centre of the party, yanno?I'm really sorry you didn't have a more positive experience, but really grateful for your forthright opinion. And I'm still no closer to knowing whether these conferences would be right for me or not…

  33. Scary Mommy says:

    This made me so sad to read- I wish I had met you! But, I felt so similar last year and this year was entirely different. It's so hard to know what to expect. I hope you'll give it another try!!

  34. Theta Mom says:

    I have to tell you that I read a lot of pre-BlogHer posts, I mean a lot – and I think this put me in the right mindset even before I stepped foot into the conference. I went in without ANY expecations – except that I knew it was going to be insane.There were many posts about not to feel slighted if you don't attend parties and to make the most of your time with the peeps you DO connect with. I went to one session and was disappointed so I can't compare it to others as I didn't attned those – sorry to hear your disappointment, but I return to your blog because I adore you and your writing – and no conference good or bad, would ever change that,xo

  35. CaraBee says:

    This was my second Blogher and while my first was definitely enjoyable and I LOVED meeting my friends there, I was let down by the conference itself. This year, I skipped most of the sessions and made it more about the socializing. I didn't try to meet EVERYONE. I made a point of meeting up with the people who were important to me and let the rest happen naturally. I had a much better time. Don't let this deter you from future conferences, you might find, like I did, that it's all about expectations.

  36. BigLittleWolf says:

    Really interesting feedback, though disappointing. I was one who was unable to attend, but my goal would've been largely to meet those I've communicated with in this fashion.Were the sessions organized and run by women who may be great at blogging, but less than great as marketers, networkers, social media experts, or presenters?I imagine that if you're used to professional level communicators, it might be a let-down.

  37. Meagan Francis says:

    I frankly have never find panels to be what I hope for, professionally, at ANY conference I've been to…so I tend to avoid them (or just not invest much in them) and focus on the networking, which means I miss out in a way but also don't overwhelm myself with too many divergent goals. That said, there is no way to get out of something as huge as BlogHer without feeling like you missed out in at least some way. I'm so bummed I didn't get to spend more time with people like you and Jana, who I think I maybe said three words to. And most everyone was probably feeling torn in a million different directions, which may have meant that somebody wasn't what you expected just because they weren't quite themselves, yk?I'm sorry you had a disappointing time. 😦 I totally hear you.

  38. becca says:

    You know how much I adored spending time with you. Loved every second with you. I also saw many sides of the conference that disappointed me but I tried to focus on what kept me happy. Which was the time with you and the others I felt a bond with even before we got there. And the people who disappointed me? I tried to let it role off of me (and I bitched about it with people like you). Was it everything I hoped it would be? On the friend front, yes. yes it was. Because the ones that I crossed my fingers to love – I did. will I go back to BlogHer next year? No. I'd rather spend time with my peeps and KNOW that no one will be looking over my shoulder for someone better as they talk to little old me! xo

  39. Heather of the EO says:

    I'm with you. Still processing. But you know this…So glad to have met you and experienced your grace in person. Thank you (again) 🙂

  40. Rudri says:

    Christine, I was so disappointed that I couldn't make it this year, but after reading your post, I question my own hype about this conference. I am sorry it wasn't what you expected. Maybe after some reflection you might be able to focus on something that uplifted during your time at the conference.

  41. Kelly says:

    Though I've not attended one of those super-fab conferences, I understand that bittersweet swirl of emotion. I hope you are able to process and sort the amazingly good from the disastrously disappointing. (Also, there's still time for Conalom!)

  42. ck says:

    I'm so glad I got to meet you, Christine. You are so REAL. I wish we could've spent more time talking, but maybe we'll be able to meet up again some day. Without a conference. 🙂

  43. Aidan Donnelley Rowley says:

    I am so glad that you wrote this post. I too came away from BlogHer with a bit of an empty feeling. Not sure why. My expectations were not super high to begin with, but they were there and I was sad when the weekend passed and I felt that I had not genuinely connected with too many people. Am realizing that this was perhaps a function of an overwhelming conference as well as a function of my approach. I know we didn't talk much, not nearly enough, but it was a treat to see you in person. As always, I applaud your honesty and bravery here. Just know that there were so many who came away from this anticipated weekend extravaganza shrouded by more than a bit of disappointment.

  44. theycallmejane says:

    I'm so sorry to hear about your disappointment but secretly (or not so secretly now) I'm sooooo glad to read this. I was feeling so left out because I decided not to go. After reading all the glowing "I had so much fun" Blogher posts (that frankly, didn't carry much substance – just how much partying was done) I was REALLY feeling left out. But I would have gone with the same expectations are you. And I would have expected to get so much practical information/advice/etc. out of it. And I'm not much of a partier and I'm a tad shy. Since I don't know any bloggers in real life, I feel like I would have felt dreadfully alone. Maybe you and I should go together next year! Then we can be alone together!

  45. The Absence of Alternatives says:

    What CaraBee said! Only that this was my first time there. Since I did not go with any expectation for the content (Sessions? What? Do I have to go?), I was not really let down. I was there for the boozing. eh, I mean hanging out with a handful of ladies. I am shy (yes, I am. Shut up people who kind of know me) so it was overwhelming when I first walked into the hotel, not knowing anybody there. I thought about hiding in my room and tweeting… I hope you give it another chance since it seems that you are amongst friends who like you and know you (thru your blog), as you said, with a different "objective", I am sure you'll have a blast! The practical tip I learned? It's a huge crowd. It is VERY important to get people's cellphone number in advance and program them into your phone. Then you connect mainly by SMSs.

  46. Stepping On Cheerios says:

    What a bummer. I dodn't attend and don't really bog for that purpose any how but generally feel that my expectations are always too high. My mother always told me…."Hope for the best but expect the worse." Words I still live by to this day.I LOVE your blog by the way and think your writing is absolutely fantastic. Your thoughts are well organized and your vocabulary use is terrific. Keep writing:)

  47. rebecca @ altared spaces says:

    I am sorry you did not find that for which you sought.I hate that feeling, especially when it's something for which I hoped so hard and looked forward so much. Your blog is so personal. How could you not have more at stake than you realized?I hope there will be something gentle that will come from this sadness. Disappointment sometimes leads me in interesting new directions…and I see that you are readying for that… So I will send you breath that yours might be lighter.

  48. neeroc says:

    Thanks for your honest opinion and description of your experiences. Two questions – would you give it another try? and would you try another conference?

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