When I had the chance to attend the first-ever summer session of Alt Summit last week, I jumped all over it. While the winter and summer events are very similar, the summer version seemed more low-key. It was a smaller group, and had a relaxed feel to it. I had a great experience both times, so it's impossible to choose a favorite. My trips to Alt helped me to remember some important life lessons:
- There is not one right way to do things. Shortly after I had my first baby, I realized there's no one right way to do things: Cloth diapers or disposables? Formula or breast feeding? Co-sleeping or cry-it-out? Every parent and every baby is different. It was a very grown-up moment for me when I realized I get to choose what's best for me. I was reminded of this lesson both times I attended Alt. The same idea applies to blogging: some people blog for fun, others for business. I'm in the middle somewhere. I love the relationships I've made as well as the opportunities that have come my way through blogging. It's what keeps me coming back. But it can't be my focus right now. And that's ok. I'm spread thin between family and home and design work. A big thumbs up to those bloggers who can maintain their family life and manage to publish blog posts daily. I can't. And it's ok. It's liberating to accept my limitations and take things at my own (snail's) pace rather than comparing myself to others.
- People like people who like them. Meeting new people is always awkward for me. The key is realizing that it's awkward for many others, too. If you're constantly waiting for someone else to make the first move, chances are you'll be disappointed. So take control of the situation and say hello. Just be nice, be yourself, and be interested in what the other person has to say. Soon the awkwardness is over and you're on your way to making a friend. Occasionally, awkwardness prevails, and there's just no connection there. So brush it off and keep going. You're not out anything to try. And guess what? It gets easier the more you do it. The genuine connections that happen as a result of your efforts will be absolutely worth the awkwardness you endured to get there.
- Quality over quantity. This lesson can be applied to many aspects of life as well as blogging. I'm going to apply it to both blogging and meeting people. Perhaps it's just my way of justifying not posting every day, but it's true: nobody wants to read a half-hearted, thrown-together post. So take your time producing quality content. You'll feel better about putting great stuff out there and your readers will know they can count on you for only the best. As for meeting people, take point #2 above, and remember it's quality over quantity. You may burn through 500 business cards in one conference, but how many of those people did you truly connect with? Your time is better spent focusing on quality relationships versus a multitude of superficial ones. So when meeting people, pace yourself. Establish relationships, and everyone wins
- Be yourself. This is likely something you've been told your whole life. I have. But it's also one of the hardest things to master. This was my main focus going into my second trip to Alt. Before the winter session, I carefully planned my outfits based on what "they" would like. I practiced my elevator pitch and thought up questions to ask my new acquaintances…all of which are probably normal when approaching a new uncomfortable situation. Despite all of my preparation, I didn't feel like myself. I was trying too hard. This time around I didn't really even think about my outfits until the last minute. (Maybe not the best idea). But I dressed like myself. I was comfortable physically, which boosted my confidence. I talked to people like I talk to my lifelong friends. No rehearsing or planning ahead; it was much easier this time around.
- Always keep learning. Whether you step out of your comfort zone and attend a big conference, or you just watch some YouTube tutorials on a new hobby you're interested in, learning is wonderful. Never stop. Knowledge is a gift; and we're so lucky we live in a time where we have such easy access to incredible things. Keep learning and exploring the world around you. Only good things can come from it.
I need to send out a BIG thank you to my parents. Thanks for taking my little friends so I could focus and learn new things knowing that my kids were in good hands. It's always nice to take a break from full-time parenting. And my kids thank you for all the yummy snacks and fun activities. Grandparents are awesome. Thanks, Bryce, for supporting all my crazy schemes and for keeping me laughing along the way. Thanks to all of you, new and old friends, for liking me just the way I am. Big hugs all around.
P.S. The little notepads and pencils were in the little business card goody bags I made for Alt. The extras will be sent along with orders from my Etsy shop as a little surprise gift. :)