I didn't know what to expect. I hoped that I would learn a lot and come back with ideas and maybe a friend or two. I thought it would be really cool to see bloggers I've followed for years in person. But honestly, I really had no idea what would happen.
So, all that in mind, I went to Texas Style Council in my own lovely (and stylish) city, Austin. And I was totally blown away.
The event was well-organized, phenomenal, and inspiring. Panels and bloggers I met alike shattered perceptions I had about blogging, inspired or bounced around ideas with me, and left me feeling like a worthy, valuable blogger.
There is a lot of talk about jealousy and envy in the blogosphere (and online in general). It's so easy to get lost in thinking you wish you had something that another girl does, whether it's the free shoes or sponsorships or her body or her hair. Blogging offers a carefully curated, carefully edited snapshot. That's it. It's one moment in someone's life, and the words they chose to share.
In person, however, it's much easier to see the whole picture. People seem so much more real when you see them in person instead of on a screen. They have more depth and more personality. It's a lot easier to hate on a 2-D image or feel like you can't live up to it, but when you meet those Big Bloggers in person? They're just people, and are probably very sweet and humbled that you like their work. Think of how you would feel if someone you didn't know said your writing, or photography, or music, or web design, or whatever really, really resonated with them. Flattered, shocked, a little shy?
I think keeping in touch with your local or national blogging community is the best way to avoid blog envy and jealousy, because you get to see the whole side of someone -- not just what ends up online. When someone seems like a real person in your mind, not just an image on a screen, it's a lot easier to root for them rather than get jealous. One of my new friends, Nicole, talks about the importance of Sisterhood on her blog. It's all about uplifting, inspiring, encouraging others -- but never about tearing each other down.
My biggest lesson this weekend was about the importance of that positive, welcoming community. I met bloggers who blog for a living, some who do it on the side, some who have blogged since the invention of the word, and some who just started two months ago. And more than just blogging, we were a diverse crowd in terms of taste, size, nationality, blog topics, industries... Everyone was welcome. That's one thing I love about blogging -- it's about real people, unique and varied as they are, sharing their lives. It's about connection. If we wish to thrive in our own ventures, that's the kind of community -- both online and offline -- we need to cultivate.