I was very nervous and unsettled about attending my first blogger conference.  I have attended small blogger workshops in the past, but never a larger scale conference.  It might sound weird that I would be trepidatious about gathering with several hundred other people who do the same crazy thing that I do.  But, I was anxious for two reasons.

For one, like most of us, I’m my own worst critic.  That critic kicks into high gear when I start playing the game of comparison, seeing other people who are working smarter, harder, better, ________…. and totally killing it.  I instantly forget all those things that I was gosh darn proud of last week and find myself sucked into the black hole of self doubt.  Ask the Ry-guy.  It was his ear that I talked off on the phone at the end of the day Saturday.  I can usually avoid this comparison stuff by staying off social media or at least avoiding the accounts that get my gut all wound up.  However, in this case, I would be sitting next to them at sessions, eating meals with them, watching them float by in well-lit bubbles like I see on their social media feeds.

They’ve got it all together, right?  (Hello? We know that’s not true, but my brain wasn’t believing that deep down.)

My other anxiety was that I would blow some sort of major opportunity at the conference.  I was spending my hard earned money on this trip, so I wanted to eek out every little morsel I could, leaving nothing behind.  Of course, this is typical of any travel I do.  It’s the “J” in my personality. (That’s Meyer’s Briggs talk…you can take this personality test online). “J” personalities love things in neat little lists, all the boxes checked, not leaving an experience incomplete.

How did it all pan out?

It was a roller coaster.

The first day I participated in a workshop where I had some great ah-ha moments.  It helped me frame up the fact that I need to return to the story that launched this site in the first place.  I was pumped and couldn’t wait to race home to start filming new content.  I also met some amazing bloggers and loved hearing their stories.  I got excited about their projects, plans and goals.

Reminder to self: When you’re too far into your own head, stop thinking about yourself.  Focus on others, be with them, get excited for them.  It’s much healthier than biting your nails and obsessing about your own insecurities.

Enter day two: The day that ended with Mr. Simon being the ever patient spouse, kindly talking me down off the ledge of wanting to scrap everything and go into real estate with him. It was a ten hour day of sessions and networking. My brain was spinning.  I was questioning every blog post, YouTube episode and photo I created in the past year and a half.  I felt like everyone else had the answers, knew how to outsmart the SEO (search engine optimization) monsters, had better pictures, better stories, more traffic, was making more money, and rockin’ the life of a #GirlBoss.

Don’t worry, I haven’t scrapped it (clearly, from the existence of this blog post). I’m totally fine.  I’m dramatic.  I’m a “feeler”…again, ask Meyer’s Briggs.  Feelings are my greatest asset and my worst liability.

Then finally, there was the final day.  Two women, both incredibly accomplished, shared their honest experiences as bloggers.  They talked about challenges, the sacrifice, the passion and why it was all worth it.  But, most importantly, they proved there this is no one formula for success. Their success wasn’t built on having everything figured out.  They didn’t have a secret weapon.  They were just being themselves, and so far, the success I’ve had has proven the same.  I was reminded to have faith in my God-given talents and to stay the course, being patient with the frustrating, awkward process of growth. Their words brought me back to celebrating the success I’ve found thus far.  They reminded me to be grateful.  They inspired me to keep on keepin’ on.

Why were their words softer on my heart and didn’t stir up competitive feelings? I think it was their genuine and honest ways of communicating combined with God’s answer to my prayers for a peaceful spirit.  But, no matter the source,  Heidi Larsen and Andi Mitchell, I appreciate you and thank you for sharing yourselves in a way that I needed at that exact moment.

Going into this conference I had hoped I would learn some secret tactic for increasing website traffic and gaining YouTube subscribers.  What I walked away with instead was an increased understanding of the lesson I am continually learning.  The best cures for insecurity are awareness, prayer, deep breaths and gratitude.  I trust the Lord has put me on this course for a reason and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to grow this week.

As for the question of if I got enough out of it?  I can’t say that I fully took advantage of every single moment I was there, but I certainly have some exciting plans in place to improve my business. I’m renewed and ready to continue on in the journey, wherever it takes me.

Thank you to the organizers of the conference, to the speakers, to the attendees and to Mr. Simon for watching the monkeys solo while I was out of town.  I think I’ll keep him <3