Back in June 2014, a year into my blogging journey, I missed the first Britmums Live conference I had the chance to attend – even though I’d bought a ticket. As I’ve mentioned before I managed to double book myself that year and our family holiday took precedence. However, despite having a really lovely holiday, I was really gutted at the time. I remember sitting in the car as we drove home from Norfolk flicking through my Twitter feed relentlessly, torn between the desire to pretend it wasn’t happening and wanting to feel in some way connected to events. I took in every Morrisons cake and staged selfie and worried that I’d missed the boat as far as bonding with the people I’d been chatting with for many months was concerned.
When tickets for last year’s Blogfest were finally released I jumped on the chance to attend and attend I did. I think I probably went through the whole gamut of emotions that anyone going to a blog conference for the first time might experience – slight awe of seeing the images of 2D blog avatars come to life, the buzz of being a part of something a little bit special and out of the ordinary, discombobulation at finding myself, at times, alone and wandering between seemingly tight-knit groups of fast friends and the thrill of actually meeting one or two writers who I really admire – bloggers who I aspire to be more like and those who I just enjoy interacting with online.
I liked the journalistic and writerly focus of Blogfest, the discussion of topics which affect us all – not just bloggers – and provision of at least one or two famous faces to make us laugh and make us think.
This year I finally made it to Britmums in June and I had fun there and was really happy to meet some more brilliant people from my online world, but, in hindsight the focus and feel of the event was quite different to Blogfest. As I hadn’t quite decided what direction I really wanted for the blog at the time it felt a bit schizophrenic to be bouncing from sessions on working with brands to sessions on writing fiction and getting it published and making money, to photo styling and curating for Instagram.
For one reason or another I wasn’t able to make it to Blogfest this year but seeing a few updates on the social media and reading a post or two by those who did has made me think about what it is to attend these events and why I was so much less bothered to miss it this year.
Admittedly I would have loved to have seen Sandi Toksvig, David Baddiel, Shappi Khorsandi, Margaret Atwood and Val McDermid speaking and the Think Bombs session alone would have been worth the price of admission. However from the point of view of going for the bonding opportunity, I feel less of a sense of loss. What the other conferences have taught me is that, if you feel a genuine connection with someone online and you never get to meet them in person, that’s OK. We all have busy lives and live in far flung places and becoming part of a ‘tribe’ doesn’t just happen because you find yourself in the same room one day.
I also, coincidentally, had something pretty cool going on in London on Saturday anyway – my mum treated myself and the kids to a play at the National Theatre called “I want my hat back” – an adaptation of a thought provoking picture book by Jon Klassen. As the blurb described it as appealing to ages from 3-300 it seemed like a good time to introduce EJ to the theatre experience and as soon as we entered the NT foyer I felt a rush of feel good dopamine as every single memory of that place is filled with feelings of excitement, anticipation and happiness. The play itself was absolutely wonderful – as brilliant a take on such a sparsely worded tale as you would expect from the NT – everything from the costumes, set, music and just the fantastic energy and enthusiasm coming from everyone involved in the production.
Being back in London, on the South Bank, taking the train journey, seeing the kids enjoying themselves doing something a little bit different from the daily round of soft play and scooters in the park, and not only that but an activity which I was brought up to really value, boosted my happiness and massively lessened the impact of missing out on this year’s Blogfest.
Whilst I would love to go to next year’s conference and hope that I get the chance to be involved in a few more blogging events, this experience has taught me that my world is a bigger place than just my blog and I need to prioritise and embrace happiness in whatever shape or form it presents itself.