The BlogHer conference can be a large, scary, overwhelming place. There will be so many things to see and people to talk to that some bloggers just find themselves going into social anxiety overload and spend all weekend hiding under the covers with a bottle of vodka and a handful of Xanax.
Of course, others dive face-first into the ass of a unicorn.
This will be my fourth year attending the conference, and while things change every year, there are parts that always remain the same. If this will be your first year or if you missed out on the fun the last time you attended because you got overwhelmed, here is my brief but self-assuredly excellent guide to making the most out of the BlogHer conference:
- Talk to everyone. You know that thing you do where you actually draw all of your strength and force yourself to sit next to that stranger hoping that she’ll just start talking to you? She’s probably just as shy and nervous as you are, waiting for you to talk first. And don’t just hang around the periphery of a group of people talking, dive right in! Introduce yourself, talk to them about what they write, and you may find your newest best friend (or at least a new Facebook friend). Here are some icebreakers to use:
- “I love those shoes!”
- “Did you see the [weird item] in the swag bag? Who thought that was a good idea?”
- “Do you smoke weed?”
- “Did you see Katie Couric?”
- “Are you going to any of the parties?”
- “So, I don’t want to brag, but I know Avitable.”
- Stay positive. Are you annoyed that there are men just like me attending the conference? Focus on all of the amazing women who are there to celebrate each other! Does it bother you when women get together and let off some steam by getting ridiculously drunk? Go out on the town and see a show! Your attitude will be responsible for 90% of how the conference goes for you. Each time you think about complaining or making a snarky passive-aggressive tweet or just getting angry, shift your focus. There will always – ALWAYS – be something there for you that you can enjoy. And if not, go out in the city and find a homeless person and tell him why you’re upset. See how much sympathy he has for you.
- Don’t make up stories. It’s easy to imagine that people are talking about you or ignoring you or being bitchy or hateful or exclusionary. It’s important to always keep in mind that most of that will be in your head. Some of the most popular bloggers out there suffer from massive anxiety, which means that they might be overwhelmed or tired or need alone time, just like you. I have some friends whose natural state is a severe look, so they may be the sweetest person in the world, but they just look like they’ll tear you a new one if you talk to them. Before you assume anything, put yourself in her shoes. P.S. Some people are just petty little bitches, but I’m not going to tell you who.
- Remember that you’re beautiful. Don’t let low self-esteem or a poor body image keep you from making memories that will last a lifetime. Hiding from the cameras that will be everywhere is just a way for you to miss out on all of the little moments. Who cares if your ass looks big at that angle or that you don’t like how you look when you’re wearing jorts? In a few years, when you look back at the photos and see the people you were with, you’ll be glad you weren’t afraid. Also: It helps you piece the events of the night before back together, Hangover-style.
- Forget the schedule. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options, but that’s a panic attack you don’t need. Look at the agenda. Pick a few sessions that seem interesting and/or fun to you, and plan on those. Go to the parties at the end of the night if that’s your thing, but don’t stress about the private parties. They’re not worth it. Take some time to walk through the expo hall, but if you don’t see everything, it’s okay. This isn’t homework or a class or a test – it’s supposed to be fun. Have fun.
- There’s no right way to do this conference. I’ve only attended one session in four years, and it was one where my best friend was appearing. I’ve gone to the community keynote, and I recommend it, but I missed it the first year without any emotional repercussions. I go to BlogHer to see friends and wander aimlessly through the expo halls getting free shit. Others do a marathon of sessions and wear themselves out before the parties, while others may just stay happily drunk the entire time. There’s no wrong way or right way – just do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
- Come find me! My cell number is 818-398-2079. Text me, come say hi, buy me a drink, and we’ll talk. I’ll be the fat bald guy with the beard, and I’ll be there from Wednesday until Monday morning, ready to meet you! And if you need help pronouncing my last name, don’t forget to watch this video.
In the end, is this a weekend that you want to remember fondly or one that you want to result in PTSD? It’s almost entirely up to you.
See you in New York!