I think a lot of my nerves leading up to BlogHer '13 stemmed from social anxiety. If you've ever met me "in real life" that would probably surprise you. The phrase "she could talk to a brick wall" has been used to describe me more times than I could ever count; in elementary school the only reason my conduct grade ever suffered was because I wouldn't shut-up. I was almost always picked by the teacher to show the new kids around school. I've always had an active social life bouncing from one set of friends to another, and then back again making sure I never fall into any one particular clique. I'm probably one of the most social people you'll meet.
That doesn't make me immune from fear though. Fear of rejection, fear of the "mean girls", fear of being laughed at or of not being cool enough. I'm a thirty year old woman with a good bit of self-confidence, but a group of over 5,000 women was enough to send me straight back to 4th grade when the 5th graders teased me about my curly hair.
Let's talk cliques. There were definitely cliques. I'm sorry, but there were. Any time you get over 5,000 women together there are going to be cliques, and to pretend that there aren't cliques is silly and really naive. It's one thing to talk about how we're just friends and not a clique. It's another to be the new kid on the block sitting by yourself while a group of women chortles away three seats down. You might be just friends, but from the outside that's not how it feels or how it looks. So to you who have groups of friends with inside jokes and lots of big fat happy memories I'd say, "good for you, but it wouldn't hurt you to open up to new friends, invite the person sitting alone to come over to your table for coffee or even offer and encouraging word!" Just keep that in mind, ok? I know next year that I will try to remember how it felt to be a newbie and make sure to include everyone wether or not I already have friends.
Overall, I was very pleased with how nice people were. I only had two encounters that I walked away from feeling like the other person was rude. Maybe I had a few awkward moments like when I asked one of the Voices of the Year speakers where I knew her from ::smackshead:: or when I gushed to Tabatha that I wanted to be her new best friend because she was just that good in the Room of Your Own Session, but for the most part people were really nice (note the two women I just mentioned were not to the two unpleasant people I encountered).
I really think that for the most part we all just want to be liked and that a big genuine smile and pleasant attitude go a long way!
How do you feel about cliques? Would fear of being excluded or people being in cliques deter you from attending a blogging conference?
Coming up later this week my last conference recap! Fact or Fiction? A Newbies Guide to BlogHer!