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21.6.15

Britmums Live 2015: "Hey, I’m proud of myself."

This year it was my third time at Britmums Live, and it was a little bit different to the past two years. In fact it wasn’t a little bit different, it was a lot different. Because this year my badge didn’t say ‘Blogger’. It said Britmums Team. Team….TEAM!!

This girl….woman….who two years ago hid in a toilet. Who wore spanx and worried so much about what people thought of her.

This girl….woman….who last year felt so overwhelmed by everything that she had way too much to drink. Who felt a little disheartened by the fact her friends were getting “attention” and she was left to the side.

But this girl….woman who was determined to not go for the third year as a blogger. Who knew that to feel a part of the community she had to do something about that.

I’m sure there is a saying about being in control of your own destiny, and right now, I feel that more than ever. Blogging is a massive community and as lovely as it is we are pitched against each other, there is no denying that. We have close friends but, depending on what you want from blogging, we are all in competition with each other.
It can be brutal. But that’s just life. In any area, in any industry, there is competition and there are opportunities. And I think the thing we have to learn is that if we don’t get certain opportunities then it doesn’t mean we are not good enough, it doesn’t even mean that someone was better than us. Sometimes there is no reason at all. Someone has to be chosen and with so many blogs out there, we can’t all be that one person.

Anyway. So last year I bought my Britmums Live 2015 ticket. But when I got home there was something in me that was urging me to take a chance. See, I wanted to be more than “just a blogger” there. I was in awe of the room moderators and wanted to be able to do what they were doing. I was so eager to do this that I put my ticket up for sale and with a confidence boost from goodness knows where, I “started a conversation that mattered”. And in January this year I was told that yes, I could be a room moderator. I didn’t cry (I totally did!) but in the back of my mind I was worried that maybe the Britmums team didn’t really think about it properly and that I would totally screw it up, but I couldn’t back out.

I felt nervous because I suppose I found myself in this friendship limbo, mainly because I am so close to Hayley (Shutterflies) and last year relied on her so much that part of me wondered how I would cope without her.
I had these images of me turning up on the day and Jen and Susanna being like “Oh. It’s you. We didn’t realise it was you” and to have major regrets. I felt ok on the train journey, but walking into the venue I felt so small. And I wondered if I’d made a mistake. But immediately I was welcomed by Susanna, Jen and Maddie and it was amazing. As a blogger, and a member of Britmums, in fact even before I started my blog I was aware of Britmums and so Jen and Susanna were (and still are) a really big deal to me. I’m not saying that to suck up, but in this industry they are a big influence and after fangirling over them the last two years I realised I had to keep my cool. I stood there couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it. And again in a totally fangirl “HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW MY NAME?!” kind of way felt like a giggly school girl when Susanna mentioned my haircut. “HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT MY HAIR WAS LIKE BEFORE?!” was screaming in my mind.

As I sat in my room I took some time to breathe. I read through my speaker Bios, excited for the sessions I had in my room, particularly the second session as for the last two years I had attended Nigel Camps video session and this year was moderating his session.
The first year, I didn’t talk to him, and last year I spoke briefly at the end of the Saturday. And I was lucky enough to review his book last year too. But again it was that whole, “I’m going to have to introduce myself” moment because I didn’t for a second think he would know who I was. But he did and I honestly couldn’t get my head around it. This was now three people, who I think of highly, who had accepted me and “knew who I was” and for someone who has blogged hard for the last four years and has seen others who started at the same time and after me fly off and be mega successful, meaning I questionned who and what I wanted to be, what I wanted to achieve, and where I wanted my blog to be, it was really quite overwhelming.

Anyway, massively long post, and this being the reason why I think writing a couple of days after the conference is better, I am now sitting on the train feeling completely….I don’t know. Overwhelmed (a word I clearly overuse) and accepted. The last year has seen me go through so many changes, personally, and particularly when it comes to confidence and the fact that people were picking up on this made me feel so good about myself.

Could I have done a better job as room moderator? Of course I could! However, I did it. I actually did it. I stood there and I did it. I know where I could have improved. I haven’t done anything like this before and I had to remind myself of that. I also had to remind myself that I was accepted to do that job because people had confidence in me to do it. Of course there was that big voice in my head telling me not to let them down, but I think the best thing that I did was to be honest with each speaker and to say “Look, I’m nervous. I want to get straight into it so I won’t go too much into your bio” and every single speaker was absolutely fine with that.
I realised that I didn’t have to be shy. I didn’t have to be reserved. And the best thing to do was to be myself and to be honest. So I made myself comfortable with the speakers, I made jokes and had conversations depending on who they were and on Friday night ended up going to the Bibs and then to the pub with the two speakers from my final session. And you know what, I might have sacked off my early night with Sushi and Orange is the New Black plan to go for a drink, but I had a fantastic time. Why? Because I was able to be me. The proper me. And I knew that, at least I think that, it was ok to be that person because that’s who people seem to like. And I like her too. I enjoy being her. And I wish she would stick around more often.

Saturday, after the final session, I felt sad that it was almost over. I knew I had to take myself away for a bit and rather than hiding in a toilet like I did two years ago, I felt confident enough to be able to go with Alex (Rotolight) to find Nigel and to sit in on his interviews with Carol Smilie and Jaume Marin.
The time went so fast and now it feels like I’ve gone home too early. It is a completely different experience being part of the team, and I felt like most of the time I was in a busy daze. I was also able to accept that no one was putting pressure on me at all, and that I was doing that myself, and it made it easier for me to control.

There were moments of acceptance, little moments, that I won’t forget. A squeeze on the knee, a pat on the shoulder, a smile and a thank you. And a tweet from someone not even at the event thanking me for tweeting so much during sessions. Those moments were worth it and how I didn’t cry there I don’t know.

And finally, after a massive post full of waffling and making probably no sense. I think it would be wrong to not turn round and say “Hey, I’m proud of myself”.

Because....
Hey, I’m proud of myself.