Diapers and Dragons

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm Not a Complete Loser, But I'm Close

So you remember that post a little bit ago about how I was all jealous of the BlogHerites and stuff?

Well, I'm in Chicago. Just a few days late for BlogHer. I am at a conference, though, the b2G "Live Inspired" conference to which some good friends (who are Navigators staff) invited me.

The trip up, in a monster van with crappy steering and worse brakes, was actually quite fun. I didn't know anyone in my van (we had two) other than one man I'd met last fall on a cider mill trip, but it was a cozy group of six to eight people. We kept up a sort of musical vans game all day, though I stayed put in my shotgun position (sometimes being carsick-prone has its advantages). We talked the whole way, sometimes about silly stuff, quite often about deep stuff. You know how there are certain people and groups who cut past the surface crap and get to the Real very quickly? That was this group. Since I was the stranger in their midst, so to speak, I got to share my life story, which was great since one of my favorite topics is Me.

Hey, that's why I'm a blogger, right? Have navel, will gaze.

I was a total noob/rubbernecker/tourist as we drove through the city to Loyola University. Chicago, at least the lakeside part, is GORGEOUS. I was half-tempted to just up and move here. At least, until I saw the sign advertising cosy apartment-style condos starting at the low, low price of $1.325 MILLION.

Somehow I don't think I'd be living in lakeside Chicago on a teacher's salary.

And then...we got to the conference.

All my extroversion, my confidence, my joi de vivre drained away and left me not-so-high but very dry. Suddenly I was surrounded by people I didn't know and the people I DID know knew these other people and were saying hi and getting hugs and catching up and I was shuffling quietly in a corner, trying not to look like I was about to throw up.

At dinner I made the mistake of getting in line without making For Sure that my companions of the road were getting in line at the same time, so I had my plate of Chicago-style deep dish pizza (urgh) and Caesar salad and returned the table to sit by my lonesome while they chatted away. And then most of them sat at other tables anyway, with people from all over the country they had met before.

I felt like I was right back in high school, the new kid, the odd one out, sitting by myself at the losers' table in the cafeteria. All that social anxiety flooded over me and I shoveled down my food, wondering if anyone would notice if I sneaked upstairs to my dorm room and spent the evening on Twitter instead.

Cuz I can interact with 100 strangers online a whole lot easier than 100 strangers in a real live room.

I ended up getting tablemates and being led into conversation and such before I could disappear, so I stuck around long enough to endure the "Speed Relating" getting-to-know-you activity (think speed dating, but without the searching-for-a-date component, and all ages and genders are involved) before finally coming up to my room to get online and try to ease the kinks out of my shoulders.

Give me a room full of students. Give me a small group of strangers. Give me anything like that, and I can survive. Even thrive.

But tonight...tonight made me think twice about going to BlogHer next year.

Because I might not even make it to the corner to do that awkward should-I-shouldn't-I dance. I might just end up in my room, huddled over my laptop on the bed.

Though at least at BlogHer I could get HBO.

9 bits of love:

Dad said...

I am just like you and I can soooo understand how you feel. Even when I am in a large group of people I know, I would so much rather be in my room then mixing and trying to start conversations with someone! Sigh! There is the INFP for you.

Draft Queen said...

WE are going to BlogHer next year.

And it will be OUR first year.

And no way, Jose am I letting you out of my sight for even a second unless you get totally sick of me which is entirely possible but you know, we'll figure it out as we noob along.

You and me. WE will have LOADS of fun.

Now go enjoy Chicago!

sAm said...

I'm the same way in a group of people. Sometimes I can fake it, but most of the time I have the lost soul feeling. Hey - how odd - we're both in Chicago!! (I'm here for the RnR Half Marathon)

Arby said...

You're in Chicago? Hey, go to Greek Town (just a block north of Halstead and the Eisenhower Expressway there's a food stand at Van Buren and Halstead) and get a GYROS. The next time you're hungry, stop in a hot dog stand and get a beef. Ask for it, "Juicy, sweet." If you get hungry after that, order a Chicago Dog with fries. I know some great Bohemian restaurants in the southwest suburbs, too. You can't visit Chicago without sampling the culinary delicacies.

GingerB said...

Hey Arby - I like you! We think alike (as in, I always think about the food I will hopefully get).

TM, if I go, I will drag you out the room and you will have fun because I am fairly good at faking my social anxiety right out of existence (which is actually all anyone else is doing, in case you didn't know that). But I might not go because ti the weekend of my wee baby's birthday so I don't know whether I can stand to be awayin the two days before she turns two. I'll be thinking it over there, and maybe get the red eye back. Hmmm. New York City!

Mwa said...

I hate that feeling.

Heidi said...

Find a fun person you know to go with and you'll be okay. I love introversion (well, sometimes) and this last week at Syracuse was scaring me to death, only my suitemates were lovely and gave me the security I needed until I felt more comfortable venturing out on my own to meet people! They mixed us into several different small groups and it was remarkably fun.

Don't see it as a failure on your part if you're not ready to step out. YOU are in control of what YOU do on YOUR terms and that's okay.

Come visit me in Seattle - never mind BlogHer!

Becky said...

I can relate.

INFJ here - aka Mother Teresa who works only with groups of three or less.

Todd J. List said...

You aren't a loser. You aren't even close.

You just aren't wired to be a "life-of-the-party" kind of person. There's nothing wrong with that. You tried something new. You interacted as and how you do. You stepped out of your comfort zone just to go, and that screams winner.

In my experience, conferences are better when you go with friends. Bond with the chicks from the D and go with real friends to BlogHer next year. If it still sucks, you can hang around here with me the year after. We'll go out to a pricey dinner. You buy. ;-)

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