I went two years ago, to the last one, and my life hasn't been the same since. No exaggeration.
Before that conference I was a jumble of nerves, but for a completely different reason. I had a bad case of the "smalls"; I didn't feel worthy to be there, in the presence of some powerhouse social media types, creative geniuses and bloggers I had admired from afar for years. I didn't think I had anything to contribute, but 2010 was a year of a lot of firsts for me, so I went anyway.
Creative Alliance '10 cured me of the 'smalls'. Thanks to Creative Alliance '10, I put my hammer down. You know, the one I use on myself? Every now and then I'll pick it up again, and then one (or several) of my Creative Alliance friends will tell me to put the damn hammer down, remind me I'm worthy.
I found my own creative voice; realized I did have dreams and ambitions, and was already on my way to achieving them, through ventures like Crying Out Now and my jewelry. I had wasted so much energy comparing myself to others, falling into that old behavioral trap of looking for ways I didn't measure up. I didn't know 95% of the women there, and I had no idea what to expect. I didn't exactly picture them pointing and laughing at me - I already knew they had too much soul for this type of behavior - but I did picture lots of heads cocked in confusion, thinking: you're doing what, exactly?
OH, my precious ego.
As we sat in the circle introducing ourselves for the first time, I felt my hands shake in nervous anticipation of my turn. I had a tendency to tell people about my business, my blogs, with a self-deprecating interrogatory slant, like a question: I write two blogs? And I run a small business? Almost like I was asking their permission to exist.
When my turn came, I squared my shoulders and did my best to drop the question mark. Hearing myself articulate not just my accomplishments but also my dreams (saying your dreams out loud is hard, and vulnerable-making), to a room full of women I previously considered intimidating, was so freeing. Hearing some of the biggest names in the social media world voice their own fears, or neuroses, put me instantly at ease.
We're all the same inside, I thought, us creative types. Balancing on that beam of creativity and ambition. Juggling mission and ego. Creating from inside but still needing some kind of validation, especially from within our own community.
Those bigger, crazier conferences (that I shall not name) are so loud, and crazy, and full of egos clamoring for attention. Those conferences bring out the worst in me, and I won't say my own ego isn't tossing its hat into the fray, hoping to be noticed.
This year, I can't wait.
About half of last year's attendees are coming back, and there are many new women whose dreams, accomplishments and ambitions I can't wait to hear about. I will leave inspired, filled up.
I have to push through some fears, though. I'm still not a big fan of flying, although I'm much better. The tools I'm learning to cope with cancer fear apply to flying, too, interestingly. I have to land in LA, secure a rental car and spend one night by myself in an airport hotel. I used to do these things almost robotically, when I traveled for work in my previous life. Now I'm up at 2am rehearsing in my head how it's all gonna go down, as if I have any control over it. That crazy brain squirrel is hard at work on his wheel, huffing and puffing away in the wee hours of the night. Damn squirrel.
Before I know it, though, it will be over, and I'll be filled up again, full of dreams and ambitions and new friendships.
A little bit of business: Truthful Tuesdays is now going to be Truthful Thursdays, so I can participate in Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write link-up, which occurs every Tuesday.
Also - I had to switch to a new email/RSS feed service (I barely even know what that means, so forgive my lack of technical expertise). Long story short, if you think you should be getting my new posts in your Inbox, but you're not, please sign-up again (right hand sidebar, just below BlogHer ads). If you don't already get my new posts via email but would like to, that's where to sign up, but please be sure to activate your subscription by following the link sent to your Inbox, or else you won't get the updates.