Over the past month or so I’d given myself the same morale-boosting pep talk dozens of times: “I know it’s scary, but you can Do This! You can learn from experts! You can talk to people who are passionate about the same things you are! You can FIND YOUR TRIBE!” I was preparing myself mentally and emotionally for my first Blog Conference.
I was about to step out as a Blogger, to begin this new chapter in my life as something more than just Mommy. It was my debutante ball of sorts, but with less High Society and more Middle School Awkward. I was scared to death. Besides the worry over the talking and the listening and the learning and the networking keeping me up at night, I was also nervous to leave my babies. I’d never spent two nights away from my kids. I knew they’d be fine without me. I’d miss them more than they’d miss me, but still: It was going to be hard. Then, after weeks of worry and nervous anticipation, it was the first weekend in June and I was there on a small, beautiful campus in Baltimore, ready to Get Schooled, ready to Take My Blog Beyond, ready to find my Tribe. Ready…or not.
I started the first afternoon by attending an informative and helpful workshop on Writing and Editing. Taught by experienced bloggers, writers, and editors, it was a crash course on when you may need to hire the services of a professional editor and what you can expect the process to be like. I headed from there over to a class called Mastering Pinterest. It was exactly what it promised to be: A How-To course on the secrets and tricks to conquering the Pinterest algorithm to drive traffic to your site. Taught by the Queen of Pinterest herself (she must be, she’s a Pinterest genius), the course provided real-life tips on making your posts pinnable and your pins searchable. It was great ready-to-apply information that could make a difference in your blog traffic immediately…if you’re ready to Master Pinterest, that is. I have an account. I think I’ve pinned five things and they’re all my own articles. I know that’s not how you Do Pinterest, but I don’t get Pinterest. I don’t want to get it, yet I furiously scribbled notes during the class, believing that to be the Blogger I want to be, I’d better figure out the Pinterest Beast, and fast. I left the session feeling completely overwhelmed. Add to that the fact that I still wasn’t sure how, exactly, one goes about “finding her tribe,” and the fact that I stayed up way too late listening to brilliant writers read the best of their best, and the fact that I woke up way too early for not having a 3-year old in my bed and two bigger boys whispering in my ear that “It’s morning! Let’s go downstairs, please, Mommy! Now, Mommy!” and I just lost my shit.
It was 5am on Saturday morning, with most of the weekend still stretched out before me, and I sat on my bed and cried. I called my husband: “I don’t belong here! I don’t want to Master Pinterest! I don’t wanna find my tribe! I already have one and I miss you guys…I want to come home!” Sam reassured me that he and the kids were, somehow, managing to survive in my absence and that I should NOT come home. “You’ll be glad you stayed once it’s over,” he said. “Just stick it out and don’t try to be something you’re not. If you don’t want to Master Pinterest, you don’t have to. Just try to have fun.” So I put my brave face back on and went to breakfast.
On Saturday, I learned a few things: I don’t have to Master Pinterest. I don’t have to build a Facebook community or have a Fans of my Blog Page. I don’t have to become a brand….but if and when I choose to, I’ll know what to do and how to do it. All I have to be is authentic. That’s it. That’s enough. The women who organized the conference and who taught us what they’ve learned about Blogging as a Business, Making Money as a Writer, using Instagram, and Building Your Book from an idea to a hard copy you can hold in your hands, know exactly what they’re talking about. These women are smart, driven, hard-working, and highly accomplished. They’re inspirational and supportive. They’re also funny as hell. I learned that I don’t need a huge tribe to feel supported. I need a small circle of real friends. (I found some!) I don’t need a million page views a month or for an article to “go viral” to accomplish my goal. My goal is simply to write. I learned that, if I want to write for an audience, I need to write and write and write and to submit and submit and submit. I can do that. I want to do that. I don’t have to do more than that…I don’t have to BE more than that. But I’m keeping my notes on Pinterest…just in case I change my mind. That shit was gold.
Lesson Learned: I did it. I saw the boundaries of my comfort zone and I stepped over the line into uncharted territory. I defined my goals: I want to write. It’s as simple as that. One of my favorite lines of the weekend came not from a session but from the lunch table: My friend Jen said (and I’m paraphrasing here because I had put my notebook away), “If you’re going to be a writer, you’re going to have to hustle. Might as well hustle for something you’re passionate about.” I’m not passionate about becoming a brand. But I’m ready to hustle for my writing. I’m glad I went. I’m glad I stayed. I’m glad Nickelodeon hosted the Saturday night party because, damn: I haven’t danced to Sir Mix a Lot or The Bangles in way too long.
*This WIRL was originally published on Live Laugh and Learn
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About the Author…
Sarah Harris is a mom, a writer, and a filterer of photos. She is constantly seeking Peace & Quiet and Additional Storage on her phone. You can find her at Live, Laugh, and Learn, on Twitter (@skh4102), and on Instagram (@sarah.livelaughlearn). Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, The Mid, BonBon Break, and Mamalode, which almost makes up for the fact that she hasn’t been able to drink a cup of hot coffee without reheating it in eight years.
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