Well that paragraph got a little off track, didn't it?
So, anyway, part of the reason I wanted to attend the Casual Blogger Conference last week was because I'm sick of my teeny tiny comfort zone and wanted to expand it a little. What better way than to try with a group of women who I already sort of knew online? Plus, being held in Utah, if I failed spectacularly, I could always conveniently never see them again. Besides, after spending the money on tickets, flights, and hotels, I couldn't exactly change my mind.
I was able to convince myself of this when I bought the tickets, when I got on the plane, and as I drove down the freeway to the hotel. But about an hour before it started, I began to feel a little anxiety. Hyperventilating, feeling nauseated, and curling into the fetal position on a hotel bed is considered "a little anxiety", right? When I walked into the Girls' Night Out the first evening and there were no name tags and I recognized no one, I almost turned around and walked back out. What's a little money wasted in the long run anyway? My comfort zone was about 3 galaxies away from where I stood.
Hyperlinking Gone Wild Alert!
And then, someone I didn't know sat down and talked to me. (I will always be thankful Kara).
And several minutes later I heard my name called from across the room. I looked up and there they were. My friends. I had often wondered what it would feel like to meet a cyber friend for reals. Would it be awkward blind date-ish? Can I tell you, it was wonderful! More like a reunion of long time friends you hang out with all the time. We embraced, we laughed, we asked of each other's families. Suddenly, my comfort zone had decided to join me.
The rest of the time I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Didn't meet a lot of new people, but definitely had fun with the ones I already knew. That first group of friends who hailed me from across the room included Amber, Serene, and Linda. We then met Rachel, the Damsel, Inkmom, and MommyJ. The next day I met Living the Scream, Tauna, Karen, and T (who I talked to at least an hour before I realized I read her blog and "knew" her). I also got to spend time with Shannon, aka Jane, who I've wanted to meet for a long time and is just as wonderful in real life, if not even more so.
I even got to meet Amber's lovely family, our lives really are as eerily similar as I thought, and I love her even more now. The only person I really wanted to meet and didn't was Momza, who I saw once the first night, but it was before my comfort zone decided to join me and I was too afraid of introducing myself to the wrong person and after that first evening I never saw her again.
The question I didn't realize I needed answered:
What I really found was the answer to a question I didn't consciously form until afterwards. These people I've met and like online, are they really friends or is it my imagination supplying such a deep connection? Turns out they are who I thought they were. Meeting them was as natural as meeting any friend for lunch. Their online voices blended perfectly with their real life personalities. That connection is very real, and now I know these cyber-friendships are definitely worth developing.
In short, I think I need to work on this separation anxiety with my comfort zone. I can live outside its boundaries and not die of nervousness. Thank you ladies, for helping me survive the experience and enjoy it!
Proof I'm Lame at Taking Pictures:
The entire 2 days, I took one picture. Here I am at lunch with Amber, Shannon, Serene, and Linda. I am aware that I am NOT in the photo. There are other pictures of me other people took. So if you want more proof I was there, look here, here, or