Day 2 of the BlogHer conference, and my mind and emotions are all aflutter. Is that the right word? I dunno. The morning kicked off with such a bang: Guy Kawasaki came on with Arianna Huffington. Guy was a speaker at last year’s conference. He has amazing stage presence with a very warm and approachable style, but shit, Arianna was a whole different level… she was freaking dynamo! Sure, she’s a media tycoon, so you totally expect her to be a master of PR and marketing, but still. Even with those expectations, goodness gracious, she wows. And not at all in that schmoozy, salesly kinda way. I mean, I’m no expert on social and emotional intelligence, but I’m just saying… there was a realness about her. People hate to use the term authenticity these days, but that’s what I witnessed. And shit, so sharp and witty. She talked about how her book, Thrive, came about after she had collapsed one day from exhaustion and burnout. She talked about the world’s obsession with being busy… this self-destructive glamorization of constantly working and struggling. Hello, I am so guilty! But there is a way to work hard towards goals while still maintaining the self. There is a way to be happy and healthy without necessarily stagnating.
By now, I’ve attended so many of these conferences and there’s always a common theme about growth and leadership. To a large extent, we do bad things to ourselves: the unrelenting self-doubt, the self-shaming, the inadequacies… quite frankly, we exhaust ourselves, because somehow we become convinced that filling our own buckets is selfish or indulgent. I push myself because learning and growing make me feel alive. But I need to do a better job of self-nurturing– of being less critical and more accepting. Huffington said that being chronically tired is now the new normal, and really, instead of viewing that as a badge of honor, I really should reinterpret that message as a red flag: there is something deeply and terribly wrong with feeling chronically shitty and drained.
BlogHer this year has been kind of interesting because I’m considering so many different avenues moving forward with my blog. On one hand, I have a whole list of things I should do to market and drive traffic to my blog: more visuals, add video, affiliate links, etc. On the other hand, I sat in on a talk about personal blogging and how for some people, the words are the treasures. Not the ads, not the videos, not the images, not the infographics. The words. I find myself a bit torn between always wanting to track the trends and build the skills to stay relevant, yet also honing my craft of storytelling through words. I’m not exactly sure how I will proceed after the conference ends today… maybe I will dabble in one and see where it leads.
I mentioned earlier that Kerry Washington was the keynote on Saturday. She was so low-key and down-to-earth. She stepped on the stage in jeans, flats, and a simple blouse, and when she spoke, she was so articulate and candid. She talked about how she’d done all kinds of roles… and that for her, as an actor, she considers it her responsibility to expose the humanity (and imperfections) of people. Deep, right? And she also hit on this really interesting complexity about being in this public online space: “I don’t read [online] comments, because its none of my business what you think of me. I’m living my life. I’m doing me. So as much as I like to participate in community, I don’t look to that community to affirm who I am.”
At times, I have struggled with what I expose on my blog, and how it might shape the way people perceive me. Sometimes, when former co-workers ask me about my blog, I have a reluctance to share the site. And I think it’s because I worry about the vulnerabilities I share, and how they might judge me. Perhaps the attitude going forward should really be more assured and relaxed. People are complicated. We don’t fit into rigid boxes of professional life and work life. The worlds collide, because they are all facets of our lives. I’m going to stop worrying about that shit. If my personal blog, which of course, does not reflect the views of my employer, offends in some way, they don’t have to read it. But I’m not going to stop writing it. After all, I have a point of view, and I have something to say. No apologies.