In June this year I did something I always said I wouldn't do.
Something I always said I wasn't interested in, because I genuinely wasn't.
I went to Britmums Live. The two day blogging conference held in London.
Despite my breakdown on the 2nd day (which for some reason feels really fresh in my mind at the moment) I had an amazing time.
I learnt a few things about blogging, I learnt a few things about myself, and I met some amazing people.
I enjoyed my time so much that I bought tickets for next years conference almost immediately.
And then within a month or so I found myself buying a ticket to Cybher, another conference held in London.
I guess I caught this conference attending bug and that, along with the promise of meeting up with friends I had made at Britmums as well as meeting others who didn't attend Britmums or who I didn't get round to meeting, resulted in me going ahead and booking.
Except now it all feels so daunting.
I know as a blogger that I am welcome at these conferences, and that I do belong there. I know I will learn, and that is the main reason for going.
But there's a niggling feeling, in my mind, in my heart, telling me I don't belong there. Me, Lauren, not me the blogger.
The blogger deserves to be there. But not the person. Not Lauren.
I remember clearly, on the second day of Britmums walking to the main conference room at Britmums. Alone. I didn't know what to do so I planned to charge my seriously low phone battery.
I planned to calm down and pull myself together and not let "the crazy" set in, then arrange to meet others at the tea break and go and watch the keynotes with them.
Except I couldn't.
I felt alone, not worthy of being there, and like I had to get out NOW. Which is all well and good if you feel like you have somewhere to go.
I felt like I was in the middle of The Labyrinth (except without David Bowie in tight trousers) desperately trying to find my way out but ending up in the same place every time.
I remember being sat in the toilet cubicle (with the toilet seat down) sobbing into my hands, urging myself not to make a sound; silent sobbing is tough by the way.
I hoped no one would knock on the door. I hoped someone would.
What would I say? Would I say anything?
I wanted to cry for help. I wanted to tweet or message someone and ask if they could hold my hand.
But it's not that easy, and no one would have deserved to a have to do that.
I felt this overwhelming feeling of suffocation. Not me being suffocated, but me being suffocating towards others. I felt I had to walk away. To give people space to breathe. Without having me making silly comments or generally being annoying, and clingy and more annoying.
I all of a sudden didn't feel like the blogger I was there to be. I was me and if I didn't like that, then no one else would either.
I have this overwhelming paranoid me that likes to tell me that actually, people don't like me, they pity me, I'm open about not having many friends so maybe people are befriending me out of pity.
Or as a joke.
Or out of boredom.
The blogger in me has a sensible clear plan.
Conference = go, learn, leave, do.
The real me see’s this massive thing . No plan. I see more toilet cubicles. More tears. More of this not belonging feeling. More crazy.
More being stuck in London, lost on the street, in the rain, not knowing where to go, with a flat mobile phone battery.
People seeing the real me. The annoying, really annoying me.
I feel cocky and a case of "who does she think she is" about going.
I still feel massively behind with my blog compared to those around me, who are all shooting ahead with success, whilst I am trailing behind.
Although on a highly positive note I can’t help but to feel really happy at the success of some of my favourite blogs, especially when I’ve read from the beginning and feel as though I know the person behind the blog, and feel they really deserve the success they have.
I guess I just feel lost sometimes at not knowing how to get that far.
And I feel like the little girl running behind the cool kids at school wanting to be just like them.
I don’t want people to feel like they have to hold my hand and drag me along.
I can imagine standing at the events next year, people reading my name badge still with this blank look of “who?!” “is she a new blogger?” thoughts going through their head.
Or of course, “wow, she is annoying!”.
I guess there are things I feel I can't write. I might look like an attention seeker, or like I'm fishing for certain things to be said, so I kind of feel a bit gagged. And I'm now left wondering where this post is/was/is supposed to go.
Maybe I’m just feeling super paranoid?
Maybe the fear of heading to these big events is just hitting me earlier than I expected?