Mom 2.016 beauty is

I’m a social worker. I’m a mom. I’m a family coach. And I’m, um, maybe, a writer? I have been working on my writing for eight years. I’ve had some success and some embarrassing flubs and loads of rejections. It’s all part of the learning process. Because I’m new to the blogger scene I’ve never been to a conference. But when I saw Mom 2.0 was coming to my new hometown I decided to go to my first blogger conference. There were a few things I could learn from the bigwigs.

In the lead up to the conference I was inexplicably terrified. I’m a fairly confident person but not about my writing and not in a room filled with, oh, 700 of the best mommy bloggers in the country. So as the days grew closer my freak-out level mounted. I worried I would feel like a fraud. I convinced myself my clothes were hardly cool a decade ago. My haircut was too short and the color was turning orange. All of my insecurities were exploding.

But I’ve never been one to walk away from a challenge, so I went. And thank goodness. I didn’t simply survive Mom 2.0. I had a tremendous experience. Now that I’ve been through it, here are a few things I wish I knew before I dove in …

Everybody poops: There are some people at Mom 2.0 who are absolute superstars in their genre. They have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of fans and followers. One woman I met has more than 1 million people on Pinterest following her pins. Wow! I heard so many prominent speakers say that while they have ________ (fill in the blank with an insanely high number of followers) on one social media platform, they only have 7,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter. In the world of blogging, followers are currency, and the richness of some can be shockingly overwhelming especially if you’re like me, and you’ve scratched and clawed your way to 5,000 followers. But then, just when you start feeling down, you enter the bathroom. And all those ladies who seemed superhuman five minutes ago are there. They pee and poop just like you do and you realize that, come day’s end, a person with 10 million Twitter followers is just like you: Human.

It doesn’t matter what you wear: I have slim pickings in my closet. I hate shopping and clothes never fit me (too big on top, too small on the bottom). In the weeks before the opening party, I heard people discuss their clothes and post wardrobe photos—and the private panic attack brought me back to middle school. I managed to pick out a few items that could pass as almost cool and felt at peace for two seconds. Then the weather turned windy and cold and I had to make last-minute changes. How would that go over? What would people think? Would I be an outcast? Eh, no. I wore jeans and sweaters for three days. No one gave a shit.

We all have insecurities: Blogging (and writing for that matter) is a singular activity done in the privacy of a bedroom or anonymity of a Starbucks. When we are writing we wear pajamas and our hair isn’t brushed. Most of the time there is a coffee stain or some bit of lunch on our shirts. Spending loads of time alone makes meeting up with a large group of people a wee-bit stressful. Everyone’s anxiety is raised right before Mom 2.0. Will I look good enough? Will the cool people talk to me? What if I say something stupid? Turns out everyone is nervous about something. But we are all good enough and cool enough, so we should stop worrying.

Not everyone has her best friend at Mom 2.0: Reading all of the Facebook posts it feels like everyone knows one another, and they are all the best of friends. I’m here to say that’s not true. Sure, some women are tight with bloggers and podcasters and influencers they met in past years. Yes, they can’t wait to see each other again after communicating online for a year. But there are way more who arrive flying solo and feeling like the only outsider. I met loads of friendly interesting women who were also looking to make connections because they too came alone.

If you say hello someone will say hello back. It’s that simple.

Don’t miss a meal: Chatting over a quinoa lentil salad somehow seems easier than walking up to a random person and starting a conversation. Look up from your cup of coffee every time someone new sits down and say, “Hi. Welcome to the table.” By the time you reach for your perfectly crafted Ritz-Carlton tiramisu demitasse you will have met eight new people. Now imagine meeting eight new people at every meal for two days. That’s a lot of new friends.

Wear a conversation starter: If you have a hard time meeting new people or initiating a conversation, wear an amazing necklace or color your hair pink or bump up your shoe choice. We are women, and we like to dole out compliments. Use that opportunity to open up the conversation and get to know another person.

Women at Mom 2.0 aren’t the mean girls we imagine in our heads: Somehow when a bunch of women get together we are reminded of high school. The cliques and gossip and mean comments about our weight are forever ingrained in our minds. But there is none of that at Mom 2.0. These ladies are nice. Not everyone became my new best friend but not one person was even remotely rude to me. Most of the time I felt like I was at a reunion from camp but I couldn’t remember the people.

It won’t go as planned: On the morning of the first day of the conference I woke up with my eye swelled to the size of a golf ball. Maybe something got in it the night before as the wind kicked up. Or maybe I had some disgusting infection. I had no idea. But with that gross eye issue I knew that taking professional-looking headshots was out. Doing a taping for The Today Show was probably out too. And what’s worse my already shaky confidence took a nosedive. But then I heard Soledad O’Brien speak and with the Dove #Beauty Is signs surrounding me I decided not to let my eye derail me. I put on my broken glasses and walked right up to the Today Show producer and made my pitch. I took my picture at Kia anyway (It’s frightening). In the end I relaxed, met loads of new people and even though the summit didn’t go just like I imagined, it was perfect.

Astronaut 2.016

Astronaut Cady Coleman and My Swollen Eye