I took a bit away from this weekend's conference; less than the attendees, but more than I expected to.
In one of the sessions, I couldn't tell you which one, Goon Squad Sarah kicked out this little gem:
And I felt that. Apparently, she started her blog so she could have a blogspot account to comment on someone else's site. And now she's doing what she does so so good. I've always held that one should do what one does well, and what I do well is cocktail waitress. So that's what I always did. I held my head as high as one can as a professional waitress and acknowledged that some people can balance ledgers and some people can design buildings and some people can remember 1000 people's drink orders at the same time, and all of those things are valuable contributions to society. I never, not in a million years, guessed that I could write. In fact, when I met my husband, he was trying to write the Great American Novel and I was trying to get promoted to full time bartender. But here I am, however many years later, writing for a living in corporate America and writing for shits and giggles on the internet and trying, and failing, to write the Great American Non-Fiction book.
And I just never thought that anyone else started into this thing, not knowing they could do it. Not caring if they could do it. Not trying to "be a writer", just trying to leave a goddamn comment on Google's ridiculously un-navigable comment forms.
I also learned, from sitting on the peripheral, that I think it may be time for me to think about exiting the blogosphere.
I don't mean that in a whiny, talk-me-out-of-it way, I just mean that I listened and watched as these women, these serious, professional women, did something. I looked around at my peer group online and realized that I've been doing this a lot longer than most of these women, but have actually done less in my time online. I looked at amazing photographs delicately framed on walls, and I followed streams from packed panels behind grand hotel doors, and I saw my own shortcomings. Sure, I have a fantastic following of what I think are some of the greatest minds online, but outside our little black-on-white world here, I'm not doing anything. I'm talking to myself, and you all are kind enough to listen. But no one's asking me to speak at their conference, and no one's hanging my pictures in galleries, and no one's invited me to write on the mega-online website for women, and I know that it doesn't matter because that's not ultimately why I'm here, but when I sit squarely facing those women who have been doing this as long as I have and I see how far they've come, how much they've accomplished, I wonder what the fuck it is I'm doing dumping a bunch of time and energy into something that doesn't really matter when I could, and apparently should, be doing a whole fucking lot more, based strictly on comparison of ROI. I know I can write, I know I can write amazingly well when I try, and even though I've been doing it publicly for FIVE YEARS, it's not getting me anywhere, when it is most certainly getting mostly everyone I know somewhere indeed. Maybe it's not why I think I'm here, but it could be why I'm supposed to think I'm here, you know?
Washing my dishes right now would actually do something for me, and yet I'm typing this. I think my priorities are grossly askew.
Also, this is not up for debate, so skip the comments on it, please. It's just me thinking outloud.
Lastly, I realized that, to a large degree, I hide behind my camera in public. I learned that I like the narrow, grey lensey take on reality much more than the actual, real reality right in front of me. I realized that I am much more comfortable documenting that I am experiencing, because it allows be to be no where near involved in the moment I am standing in the middle of. My camera gives me a reason for being wherever it is that I am, so I never actually have to be there on my own merits. It's my introduction and my segue and my crutch. How did I realize this? Because once it was all said and done, once I was home and tucked back within my own, quiet walls, I noticed that I'd taken 305 usable pictures at BlogHer, and ONE at Mom 2.0.
Rachel from A Southern Fairytale, who is exactly as lovely as she looks.
Because I wasn't hiding, and I wasn't filtering. I wasn't uncomfortable, and I wasn't afraid, and I wasn't intimidated. I don't think I tripped over my tongue in front of Mom 101 once like I usually do, and I made an absolute fool of myself when I met Momslant and I was totally okay with that. Gwenbell got a hearty fistbump, and at best Laura Meyes got a frantic wave across a crowded room. And I was okay. I didn't hide and I didn't lurk and I didn't worry, for once. I didn't feel like the odd man out for once. I was with my peers, with women whom I respect and admire, women who normally scare the shit out of me with their incredibly beautiful minds, and I was humbled and inspired and unafraid.
For once in my life, I walked into something and I wasn't documenting it....I was entirely too busy living it.