Thursday, May 23, 2013

This is What I Got for Waking Up in Vegas

I first read about Bloggers in Sin City (BiSC) in 2011 on Terra's blog, in, like, a million posts, & with each sentence I read, I wanted that - all of that fun, all of those emotions, all of the inside jokes that made no sense to read about. When 2012 rolled around & Terra's recaps returned, I clicked "Mark as read" because I couldn't bear to read about another year of fun that I'd missed, all because I was A) too poor, & B) too nervous to do something crazy like spend a long weekend in Las Vegas with 70 strangers.

But then I did it. I realized registration had opened & that there weren't a ton of spots left, & I emailed Doniree in a frantic state to see how much time I had to get the money together, & I registered without even hearing back from her because I didn't want to miss out. That massive run-on sentence should give you a feel for the way my brain was working at the time. But suddenly, I was signed up for BiSC, & Simone was going to be my roommate & it was happening.

Going to BiSC was scary. Why? Well, because writing is pretty easy for me, & when I write, it's pretty easy for me to appear less horribly anxious than I am in real life. When I can pick & choose which pieces of me you see, like I do on the blog, my anxiety usually seems like a self-imposed, Lena Dunham-esque quirk & less like a debilitating, panic-inducing medical condition. It's not always the latter - in fact, sometimes it really is the former! - but when the bad parts take hold, man, it can be really bad.

When I left for Sin City on Thursday morning, though, I didn't even take my anxiety medicine because I was all dead-set on being superhuman & less scared of social settings than I usually am. Wait, what? I should've known that wasn't a thing, but I didn't want to rely on medication to keep me calm. "These are my people!" I told myself. "I'm going to be great!" But if we're being honest? I wasn't really that great. I was scared, a lot, & I just wasn't quite me throughout the trip. I was an almost-me version of me, a me whose anxiety manifested itself as a weird self-esteem issue I don't actually have, causing me to seem jittery, standoffish, & self-loathing a lot of the time.

Don't get me wrong: It was so much fun. Bloggers freaking love each other, & we have a million nice things to say to each other upon real-life meetings. I spent much of the weekend hearing how great my hair is, how porcelain my skin is, how Jennifer Lawrence-like my voice is - BiSC is good for the ego, y'all. I also:
  • Spent great quality time with my roommate, Simone, who I've wanted to meet for approximately three years (which is as long as she's been blogging), eating Canadian maple cookies & talking about life in our hotel room at the Flamingo.
  • Got an insanely good swag bag that included business cards from Moo, wine glasses from Stack Wines, food goodies from KIND Snacks, sunglasses from Firmoo, & other great things from other great companies.
  • Flashed my badge & jumped the line at the swanky PURE Nightclub for a rooftop party where all 68 of us were dressed in white - & because it's Vegas, someone told me on the way there, "Have fun at your wedding, ma'am!" 
  • Ate at In 'N' Out, wore a wig to brunch, & feasted on a plateful of nachos at Margaritavilla like total tourists
  • Even felt comfortable day-drinking in a bathing suit in public!
Still, I spent my time thinking I wasn't doing it right. I didn't bond with as many as attendees as I would've liked to; I appear in approximately three BiSC photos & took none of my own. I could feel myself being shy & strange while the bubblier, outgoing parts of me struggled to reach the surface. I worried: "What if they don't like me? They won't want to read my blog anymore! Wait, what if I don't like them? Then I won't want to read their blogs anymore! What if I'm ruining the Internet for myself?" I got stuck in an bubble of anxiety that kept me from... well, from myself. And from all these wonderful people.

On the last day of the event,  event organizer extraordinaire Nicole stood in front of the group at brunch & talked about All The Feelings, which is a BiSC theme - everyone has a lot of feelings, & everyone tells you about them. She was followed by Doni, then Jamie, then a couple dozen other folks, both BiSC veterans & newbies, who told the whole group, through laughter & tears, what a difference this event has made in their lives. And I sat there on the fringe, silently nursing a wicked hangover, I felt myself going through an extreme series of emotions. I spent 90% of the speeches thinking, "Crap. I don't have any of These Feelings. I knew I did it wrong!" & doing some serious moping. As the last few people got up to talk, though, the moping was slowly overtaken by something more along the lines of, "Are you kidding me? I have These Feelings Plus."

It was then that I started to realize just how much BiSC taught me about myself, when I wasn't looking & didn't even realize it. Above all else, being there  it taught me that I'm really tired of being so scared all the time, & I never want to feel so anxious meeting such amazing people ever again. It taught me that I don't want to miss out on the good things because I'm too afraid that they'll become bad things. Meeting 67 people who have really incredibly nice things to tell me about myself taught me that maybe I am too hard on myself. And BiSC reminded me that life is good, & I'm living it, & I'd better just start living it instead of being so afraid of it all the time. 

I came home & told Nathan I want to find a therapist. I haven't started looking yet, but I will - I promise. And next time I get paid, I'm signing up for a life coaching session with Ashley of Your Super Awesome Life, even though I confess that my initial reaction is "OMG LIFE COACH HA YEAH RIGHT, ME?" I also made a list of things that make me happy, things I want to do, long-term things & short-term things & dream-big things. I'm just... trying harder. Doing better. Living life. I owe it to myself to be as happy as possible, & I can't be happy if I'm too busy being panicky.

I'm so, so grateful that meeting people from the Internet isn't considered murdery anymore. Thanks, BiSC. I owe you one.


Photos from, in order, Karlyn, Doniree, Minus5 Ice Bar, Caryn, Caryn, &... Caryn again.
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