My City Knows How to Throw a Party - & It's Teaching Me a Lot About Myself

Monday, August 27, 2018

Disclaimer: This post is about a Cleveland event, but even if you're not from here, I think it will have relevance to you. It's not necessarily Cleveland-centric, despite all the CLE love. Stick with me!

About a year ago, I decided to try to start attending more events around the city - even if I didn't have anyone to go with me. This was a decision that put me way outside my comfort zone because even though I'm outgoing enough to ghappily hold conversations with strangers, my anxiety keeps me from ever feeling fully comfortable in large groups of people I don't know.

When I signed up for Cleveland Vibes' first event, a mixer held at Platform Beer Co., I thought I knew a few people who were going - but when the time came, I showed up alone, & two of them never made it. I did know a few people IRL, including Julia & Ben of Beard and the Broad, & there were a number of other people I "knew" from the Internet, even if I'd yet to meet them in person.

Still, I was shaking in my boots - er, my animal-print Target flats - for the first 45 minutes or so after my arrival.

I had no reason to be as panicky as I was, but if I'm being honest, I never got entirely comfortable that night. Sometimes I just don't - but it was a really, really great party nonetheless. It was Cleveland Vibes' first time hosting an event, & damn, did Katie & her husband did a great job of it.

Here are just a few elements of a great party, all of which they touched on:
  • A free drink included in the price of ticket: Anything from Platform's menu! I went with the C'est What, a sour saison in a pretty raspberry color. it's one of my new faves.
  • Balloon background for photos: A peach-colored balloon arch in the back of Platform's patio provided the perfect background for group photos, & gold balloon letters spelled out CLE, making for yet another great photo backdrop. Julia & I used it to take this ridiculous Boomerang of us "dancing." Slick moves, I know.
  • Instagrammable eats: Their elaborate charcuterie spread was out of this world, & Mikey's Pizza provided all kinds of creative pizzas for the event, too. My photo only shows a standard pepperoni pie, but the slices I tried were, get this zaatar & cheese, and chicken & waffles. The latter had actual waffles chunks on it
  • The sweetest desserts: There was tons of tasty dessert options, from the Goldie's Donuts donut wall to Art of Sucre spinning champagne & peach cotton candy on-site. Daisy Cakes made the cutest CLE cake pops, & Little Red Bird made gorgeous cookies that were gone before I could even admire (or eat) them! 
  • A killer swag bag: On our way out, we grabbed little pink swag bags that included discounts for OcĂ©anne Jewelry, Legend Headwear, & Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym.
  • The city's best brands & influencers: In addition to the brands that were officially involved in the event, there were also lots of local entrepreneurs & Internet folks in attendance, including FOUNT founder Jackie Wachter, photographer Emily Roggenburk, Shore Society's Rachel Koenig, & Kiwi Wongpen of Thai Thai, plus a wholllle bunch of food Instagrammers, like Nikki of @eatlocalohio, Melvin of @cravetheland, & all three ladies from @cravecle

Photo by Ben of @beardandbroad

In other words... it was a really cool event, the kind I felt honored to be a part of - and it got me thinking about a lot of things, not just my anxiety around strangers. 

First, it's always a weird, humbling, & thrilling experience to meet people who are like, "Oh, I know you! I follow you on Instagram!" I never think of myself as an "influencer"; I just write what's meaningful to me & share photos of stuff I like. I love this city & my life here, so it comes naturally to me - & when I learn that people I don't know are out there reading & enjoying, man, that's a really incredible feeling, to hear that people like what I'm doing. To be honest, I'd be out here doing it even if no one gave a damn - which makes the accolades even sweeter. 

The other thing I loved about this event was that it highlighted what a small & tight-knit city Cleveland really is. Look, you all know how much I loved living in Washington, D.C., & how badly I hoped to someday live in NYC - but Cleveland is the better city for me, & I'm so glad I finally recognized it & moved my butt up back up north four years ago. It's much easier to connect with people on a personal & individual level, & there's absolutely a sense of collaboration over competition.

Lastly, of course, it was yet another lesson in my anxiety. I've been to plenty of events where I didn't know anyone & did just fine - & then sometimes, like this time, my anxiety gets in the way of my ability to feel fully myself. I had a hard time at this particular event, & I never got over the feeling that I was being a weirdo - but I pushed through & had a good time anyway, even if I wasn't able to be at my max capacity. 

Have you ever been to an event like this in your city? If not, well... go find one! Yes, Cleveland is a little bit unique in its closeness, but I know that other cities are doing cool things like this, too. All you have to do is seek them out - & isn't that what the Internet is for?! 

Photo by @LegendHeadwear

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