I’m pretty much a hermit with an Internet connection. I work at home, I spend my time after work at home, on the weekends most of the time what I’d most like to do is be at home. I do like to travel, and occasionally see people who aren’t my family, but it takes a lot to get me interested in hanging out with other people (especially strangers) for long periods of time.
I’m one of those introverted people who just gets really worn out by too much interaction; I even usually get a headache and want a nap after we host a playdate, and those are people I love.
Anyway, I’m trying to do better. I’ve been making connections online and in real life, and these people (well, one person, anyway) have been encouraging me to get out of my own little world a little bit more.
First up this past weekend was WordCamp Fayetteville. If you’re a user of WordPress, you might know of WordCamp as the big conferences where WordCamp users get together and learn about using the platform to its best advantage, writing tips, social networking and other good stuff. It’s meant to be both practical and inspirational and a way to meet local bloggers and small businesspeople.
Our WordCamp is pretty small (a glance at the videos from past WordCamps shows locations like Boston, Tel Aviv, Montreal and Paris, among many others), but that’s really what I need. And there were several people I know both attending and presenting, so it wasn’t so scary.
Still, by the end I had a headache and just needed to sit quietly for a while. My after party was snuggling with my girl on the couch watching “Sesame Street.”
I feel like it was valuable for a lot of reasons:
- I met some people in real life I’d so far only known on Twitter. And got to see some people I mostly only interact with online.
- I learned some good stuff about content, traffic, social networking, storytelling, plugins and more.
- I got some much-needed inspiration to redouble my efforts with my blog.
- I learned about some resources for further education (like that video site mentioned above) that I didn’t know about before.
- I spent a weekend day away from my family and none of us died.
One thing that was nice was that people kept asking me if I was going to attend the next big blogging conference in our world, Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged, which is happening at the end of this month. I said maybe, but I’ve never actually been away from the Bit for a whole night before (there has been one morning I was not there when she woke up, but we were there for bedtime) so I was a little nervous about that. But she’ll be with her dad, and it will be great fun (for her, at least, and probably in retrospect for him, too) so I finally talked myself into it and registered at almost the last possible moment to get early bird pricing (if you’re an Arkansas or southern woman blogger and would still like to go, you can still register at a slightly higher rate; as of this writing there are 17 spots available).
Once again I have friends presenting, and I’m sure it won’t be a huge crowd, and it’s out in nature and in a place where crafters live and work (my people!) so I’m hopeful it won’t be too overwhelming and I can sit in a corner and knit a little if I have to. Also, right now I’m rooming alone, and I cannot tell you the last time I slept completely alone, so that could be really nice. I’d say I’d skip breakfast and sleep in, but Petit Jean Meats is one of the sponsors, and I could not miss out on all that free bacon.
The point of all this rambling is that it’s important to get out there and meet people who do what you do. If only because it makes you feel less alone and strange. Most of my in-person friends don’t blog, or have no interest in making money from their blogs, or do it as a sideline to a real job, but most of the work I do is in some way blog-related, so it’s nice to hang out with other people who are passionate about it, too.
Maybe blogging is not your thing. Maybe you’re not scared of being around a lot of people, of going up to someone and starting a conversation (I don’t think I started a single conversation at WordCamp, even with people I know!). But I’ll bet there’s something scary you could be doing.
It’s important. Do something that makes you uncomfortable. That’s the only way to grow. And I’m doing a lot of growing this year!