My Blissdom Experience: Be Brave, Be Kind, Be You
A week ago today I entered the lobby of the beautiful hotel hosting the Blissdom Canada conference not really knowing what to expect.
And my world changed.
Blissdom Canada is a conference for those who love to write, blog, or just plain create. It is a place where we social media lovers gather to learn more about our craft, find inspiration and where we could find our true selves.
Since returning home I have been reading through all of the Blissdom wrap-up posts and have enjoyed hearing what everyone learned from their time spent at Blissdom. Honestly, I have felt a little pressured to write out my own thoughts. How can I write my feelings as articulately as some of the other bloggers have? What if what I write sounds silly or small in comparison? Then, I remembered one of the many lessons I learned from Blissdom, stop comparing myself to others. I need to stop seeing myself as a small tadpole in the huge ocean of bloggers and writers.
I am just as important as everyone else and my words matter. I matter!
A couple of weeks before I left for Blissdom I downloaded a song by Sara Bareilles called Brave. I was even going to write a blog post about it. I heard the song long before I had purchased it. I just have never really listened to the lyrics. When I stopped and took a moment to let the words sink in, I was in awe and amazed. I quickly identified with the song and could immediately relate it to my life. Growing up I held my tongue many, many times. I should have been brave enough to say how I truly felt. Maybe I could have saved my mom’s life. But we, or I, didn’t speak up. I kept everything bottled up inside. I did not stand up for my mom. Or for myself. Now the words are starting to fall out. Slowly they are making their way to the surface and out into the world.
As my world often works in strange coincidences, Brave was selected as the theme song for the conference.
Looking back on the past year I have realized that I am BRAVE. I attended my brother’s wedding in May by myself and had a fantastic time. I took a ride in a helicopter and loved it. I completed my practicum for school and was given top marks. And now, I can proudly say that I attended Blissdom. I approached people and talked to people I had only talked with on Twitter, Facebook or email. I shared a hotel room with someone I had never met before. In the past I have never felt comfortable enough to share a room with anyone other than my family. I was too afraid. Thank you Nicole for being a great friend and for listening to all of my stories.
My anxiety held me back from doing so many things in life. It has paralyzed me to the core. I haven’t lived a full life because of it. But I was not going to let it hold me back this time. No way, no how!
Another thing I did that I have never felt compelled to do was to ask for pictures with other friends. Like most people, I have never liked getting my picture taken or seeing myself in the finished product. I have never felt pretty or beautiful. When I graduated from high school I never gave anyone my grad pictures. I hated them. But while I was finding my bliss, I put myself out there. I pushed out of my comfort zone and asked a few friends to take their picture with me. And they politely obliged.
I made so many great connections while at Blissdom. I talked with complete strangers who were quickly becoming friends. I approached brands I want to work with in the future. I tweeted about what I was learning and what I felt passionate about while soaking in all of the positively around me. I asked Matt Dusk if I could get a picture taken with him. I even got behind the wheel of a Camaro and drove it out of the hotel parking lot! Now, if that’s not bravery, I don’t know what is!
My roommate Nicole sent me a text from our room to say that she had arrived. She indicated that she was a little nervous. I told her I would be right up as I had to change my shoes (my feet were so sore even on that first night). I talked to her as if we had known each other forever. She eventually calmed down and I lead her to the newcomer’s meet-up. On the way to the ballroom I smiled, chatted, and hugged people I recognized as we passed by. I was taking the whole experience in and enjoying it to the fullest. A little while later Nicole said to me, “I thought you said you were shy!” The truth is I was terribly afraid to meet and greet all of these wonderful people. Many of these bloggers are like idols to me. Almost celebrities in my mind. But I knew that I would regret it if I spent the weekend hiding in the corner and did not make my presence known. I am no longer invisible.
The main message of the weekend was to BE KIND. We need to practice kindness in all aspects of our lives and not only while we are on social media. Smile at someone you do not know. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Compliment your cashier at the grocery store. Help an elderly person cross the street. Just be kind. Make random acts of kindness a part of your daily routine.
I attended a very powerful session on Social Media Etiquette hosted by Neil Hedley. The participating panelists were Glennon Melton of Momastery, Carolyn Forde, Glen Canning (Rehtaeh Parsons’ father), and Jesse Labelle. Each panelist provided their own insights into how to positively impact the world around us. We all need to remember that just because we are behind a computer does not mean we have the right to put each other down. The person on the receiving end of our conversation is a real person with real feelings. Our words have power. Why not use that power for good?
Drew Dudley blew me away in his closing keynote. I was trying to take notes during his presentation. Every sentence he spoke was like an inspirational quote. One coming after the other. I wanted to capture it all. Eventually, I just sat back and watched him do what he was put on this Earth to do, inspire. He had us asking ourselves some very tough questions. “What positive thing have you said about someone to their face today? What positive thing have you said about someone who isn’t in the room?” I took these questions to heart and will be sure to ask myself these questions everyday.
Remember, what you put out there will eventually come back to you. It is up to you to do and say the right thing. Be a leader. Set an example. Make a difference in someone else’s life. It does not matter how big or how small. Do something. There are no little things. As Neil said, we have the option to bring more kindness into the world and we need to choose wisely.
As a child I had to grow up quickly. One thing I could never put my finger on was who I truly am. Who am I? What do I like? What do I want to do with my life? Why do I matter?
I have found that I am unique. There is no other me on this planet. I need to embrace my uniqueness. Own my quirks. Value myself.
I have been navigating this space called the Internet since I was teen. As an introvert this medium has made it so much easier for me to reach out and be myself. My true self.
Blissdom felt like coming home. I was in my element. I was with people who understood me and embraced me wholeheartedly, faults and all. I have yet to discover my purpose in life but I know that I am on the right path to discovering it. This world of expressing myself has opened so many doors for me. The friends I have made throughout this journey encourage me to forge on.
My dream of going to Blissdom did eat up a fair bit of my savings. My family encouraged me and offered help when needed. I could not have done it without them. And for that I am so thankful they are always there supporting me and cheering me on. This was an investment in my future. And I am totally worth it!
There is so much more I could write and want to write about being at Blissdom. I learned so much. It was one of the best things I have done for myself in a long, long time. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.