The Blogosphere Meet and Greet
|What Event Wouldn't Be Complete Without a Photo Booth? (The Lovely Em Dash is on my left)|
Stepping out of my comfort zone was something I did on a regular day to day basis when I worked at Humana Insurance Company 2 years ago (before I became a stay at home mom). I started out as a customer service representative, but then stepped into a team lead role after 2 1/2 years on the phones. Yes, I was the one who took all of those supervisor calls. I walked the aisles and had to be confident and friendly to the call representatives that were asking me questions. I felt like I owned that domain. I had a supervisor who made me speak up in meetings as part of my job development regardless of who was in the meeting, so I did. Later I organized and ran meetings with employers and providers, trying to smooth things over with them. I even pushed myself to ask a question during a town hall meeting with our CEO at the time in front of at least 75-100 colleagues. I was nervous as all get out, but it was something I forced myself to do and I did it well.
After two years of being a stay at home mom, I have fallen back into my old habits of keeping within my comfort zone. I do lead our neighborhood watch, but my husband was there with me at the first meeting as was our Louisville Metro Police Resource Officer, so all of the pressure wasn't on me. I also talk to other stay at home moms at story time or the park who are complete strangers, but again this is something that is completely in my comfort zone (we talk about tantrums and diapers and playgrounds. It's pretty simple.). Going to a meeting by myself without anyone I know (aside from one person) with the particular purpose of networking and getting to know other bloggers? Totally out of my comfort zone. (Wasn't the whole point of blogging to sit behind your computer and not have to talk to anyone face to face anyway?)
In some ways I felt like it was the first day of school. I had no idea how to fix my hair or what to wear. "Will the like me?" "What if they don't like my blog?" "What if we don't have anything to talk about?" Within ten minutes I pulled an outfit together (something that wasn't that wrinkled, but looked professional) and fixed my hair. On the ride there I was too preoccupied about finding the place and parking to worry about anything else.
When I arrived at the Hanger on Bonnycastle avenue, I was greeted by a swag table, a lovely hostess (whom I knew) and an awesome treat table. At first it was a little awkward. I didn't know anyone and I didn't want to cut in on a conversation that was already in progress. So, as any warm blooded American, I made my way to the food table. It was there I met my first blogger. Right now, I honestly can't remember what she blogged about, but I remember that Molly (it is a miracle I remember her name), was so sweet and personable. It kind of made me forget my nerves to begin with. After that I made my way around the room, talking to one after one after one blogger. My opening line was always, "So, what do you blog about?" and "Are you from Louisville?" The conversation took over from there. When you get a room full of women it wasn't that difficult to fill in the gaps. As time went on, it was easier to speak with each new person. Before I knew it I had been there for over 2 1/2 hours and really didn't want to leave (but it was 9:00 and time to go home).
The things I learned from talking to these ladies is that they were all in unique situations that brought them to where they were at in life. One was a first grade teacher working on her masters, another moved from New York City to the country by Madison, Indiana, another's husband died four years ago of heart complications and another was getting ready to close up shop where she was so she could get married and live closer to her future husband's job. Each woman's story was different, yet so similar at the same time. They had hopes, visions and dreams about what they wanted to do. They were taking the same step that I was: getting to know other people with a common goal of letting their voice be heard.
And that's really what bloggers and writers really want to do: Let their voice be heard.
I realized tonight that these women, in their different stages of life, weren't so different from me after all. As I look back I think it is kind of funny that I was so nervous about meeting them and getting to know their story because now I find myself wanting to know more. And hopefully by reading their blogs and talking to them at other Louisville blogger events (which won't be so scary in the future) I will do just that. And I can tell you from the women I met, Louisville has a pretty remarkable story to tell. I'm just glad I get to be a part in telling it.
Here are some of the bloggers I met:
The Dupont Diaries
Blooming In First
The Mint Julio
The EM Dash
The Hanger of Louisville