It’s 3:16 am, and I cannot sleep. I’m at the BlogHer conference, and I’m finally able to put a name on this feeling: sorority. Those unfamiliar with the origin of this Greek Tragedy blog might leap to the conclusion that I’m alluding to deep friendship and a profound camaraderie among women. They’d be as wrong as anonymous inconsideration.
The divine secrets of the blogher sisterhood are these:
If you come alone your very first time to such an event, without personally knowing another person, be prepared to regress. Without at least one close friend (or roommate) be ready to be completely stripped down to your most vulnerable self, that girl raising her hand, oooh-ing, “pick me. Pick me!” Like me. Play with me. Be my friend.
Most of my social mingling moments here feel like a tangle of rejection and acceptance. I’ve certainly made my own efforts to approach people. I weave through crowded cocktail parties the way I did in college–at the beginning where I didn’t really know anyone other than the few with whom I’d arrived in an elevator, on our way to a pledging event. I’m dressed just so, wanting so much to be liked, to be complimented, for a conversation to be initiated. We all want to be liked, admired, and accepted. I don’t care how much we have going for us, how many friends and admirers, or how proud and confident we are in ourselves without validation; as social creatures, we all want to be loved.
I walk around here getting a small taste of what others, non-bloggers in my life, must feel being around a blogger. “Is she going to write about this?” Every single encounter–the ones that begin by looking down at another person’s blogher ID tag, or whether it starts with an introduction through a mutual friend—is laced with a small trace of fear. If I can’t find a dollar to tip the bartender for the water he just provided me, is someone going to blog that I’m cheap? Are people watching me? Do people even care?
Fuck, I hope not.
When people in my life preface what they’re about to say with, “you cannot write about this on your blog,” I pretty much always respond, “Don’t flatter yourself.” You’re not that important or interesting (even if you are). It’s the one thing in life we find so hard to believe: that no one notices or pays nearly as much attention to us as we do.
Yeah, but attending a blog conference, surrounded by creative women of talent, it’s hard not to think, “what’s her angle going to be on this?” Or, “how can I capture this in a different way than everyone else?” Ah, I know. I’ll write about what an asshole she was, or how unexpectedly warm she was.
It’s really like walking around a constant, 3-day, pledge class, wondering when you’ll finally be able to fully relax and be inducted into the sorority of women. It’s scary in a way that shouldn’t be. I hear way too many people mention “private parties” with apologies. “Oh, are you going to the Nintendo dinner?” she whispers. No. I wasn’t invited. “What about the private party at the suite upstairs by this sponsor? Oh, did you go to the sponsored private cocktail…” Since when did blogging become so elitist? It really is just another way, ironically enough, to feel rejected.
Until, that is, you aren’t. Until those moments where you connect immediately to someone you’ve read before. To someone who just gets it, with whom you share all the unspokens. And then it all changes. Your outlook, your enjoyment, and what you get out of it all. What I was reminded of most at my first BlogHer experience, at the most basic level, is what it’s like to go about making brand new friends, without relying on insincerity, or flattery, without bonding over mean girl moments. How fragile all of us can be, how nervous, how eager we are to be liked. And how ridiculously satisfying it is to connect with strangers who are now suddenly so much more.
There are three more posts lined up on my experiences at BlogHer, including links to many of the women with whom I eventually bonded.