I have been quite fortunate that I’ve had lots of opportunities to go to blogging events and social occasions; because of this, I have made a few blogger friends.
It really wasn’t easy for me to get to this point, as I really I struggle to make new friends. I’m known for being quite daft and boisterous but it takes me a long time to let people see the “real me”, shall we say. Throw me into a situation with a potential 20, 30, 40+ strangers and, even if we have blogging in common, it gets a whole lot harder.
I used to just not speak. Silence. Zilch. Nothing. Talking to other bloggers over Twitter is so different to mustering up the courage to make in-person connections. I’m getting better though.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a work in progress - still a journey. Minutes before walking into Blog at the Beach (with icelolly.com) I was a mess. Talking to the 6 people that I could manage, might not sound like much to you - but it was a big win for me. Every event is different. The atmosphere of the event itself has a big impact on my anxiety feelings. So thank you, ice lolly for making a positive space, where I could (kind of) relax.
An invitation for Blog at the Beach came by email a couple of weeks before the event. I was so excited to finally receive an invite to their twice annual event. So many of my blogger friends had gone before and told me so much about it. So I knew there would be lots of bloggers to meet, presentations about blogging and social media, then a competition.
After the initial rush though, I felt the familiar pangs of fear - there would be many bloggers going. I don’t know any of them; what would they be like? Would I be the blogger with the smallest following there? What if they excluded me?? What if no one spoke to me?
So it was the day before the event. Social anxiety had started to kick in, so I proactively distracted myself. I planned out my outfit, I decided on how I would do my makeup and planned how I was going to get there. I then would get cosy in bed with a film that I’ve watched tens of times and go onto Twitter. I would look through the event's hashtag (#Blogatthebeach) and try to work out who's going. I then read their blogs and even tweeted them - I tried my best to get to know them a little so then I could talk to them in person.
For this event I had a different approach that helped, I stayed at friends and binged RuPauls Drag Race with Gin!
Then it was event day. Eat breakfast! It really helps to feed those butterflies in my tummy, calm them down a bit. Some advice: get ready and dress comfortably. No one is going to judge you for not being the most fashionable person at the event, it isn’t the Oscars.
I just thought I’d give you an insight to how I mentally prepare myself. Don’t worry it's not going to be the “try to be mindful” or the “just don’t worry” kind of bullshit advice that people have given me. THERE IS NO ON AND OFF SWITCH FOR ANXIETY. My advice might not even be any good, but it’s what I do and it helps me. I’m no mental health expert; I just believe that sharing our experiences with anxiety is important. So I’ve rambled on for way too long so far - I better get to the point, right? *Continues to ramble on*
We was greeted by the Icelolly team on arrival who gave us name tags and sangria. I automatically was drawn to the girls that I had met before, I felt at ease talking to the girls I had met before.
We were able to help ourselves to sangria at the start and, my God, it was a top notch sangria! I admit to having three glasses because my anxiety did get the best of me to start with. I really did enjoy socialising with other bloggers and meeting new people.
Then the presentations began, THANK GOD, I could sit and forget my anxieties for a few moments while listening to Rhianna from rhiannaolivia.com explain to use how to get the best out of Instagram. It was really interesting, I feel like I half do Instagram right but never really increase my following, I’m really excited to put her pro tips to the test. We then got to eat lunch, its was buffet food done right! There was not a single bad thing on the whole table, I ate so many of these cheesy risotto balls, omg I’m drooling now thinking about them.
We then went on to have two more presentations one on creativity by the lovely Jen from shegetsaround.co.uk and then an in depth presentation about how we could monetize our blogs by Jess from thetravelista.net. I loved the presentation on creativity, I really enjoy just been silly and imaginative. I had to write a poem about the first thing that I saw, which was a light bulb. Should I share my silly poem?
Somehow groups just seem to naturally form at events because everybody has at least seen each other on social media at some point. It can really nerve wracking talking to bloggers, as we all do have our blog in common I struggle to find a common ground to start conversations on.
It gives me palpitations the thought of saying something wrong and everyone hating me. I don’t say controversial things though and I’m good at judging the group I’m with and knowing the boundaries yet the anxiety is real.
I left the event extremely exhausted, I think mentally tired more than anything as my anxiety was a big part of the day for me, I learnt a lot about the blogging industry and Icelolly.com.
My anxiety is a big part of my life and does take over when there are so many strangers about but it doesn't control me. I can socialise and I can make friends.
Don’t be nervous! In no time at all you, will be in a group of your own, don’t try to be the centre of attention if that's not you as a person. Just be you and people will like you.
We’re all guilty of using alcohol as a bit of a crutch in these scenarios (especially when it’s yummy sangria), but it isn't exactly the healthiest coping method. When I’ve had a drink or three I come out of that shell and feel comfortable talking with strangers, my anxiety fades away for a moment, I feel comfortable with my surroundings.
The blog at the beach event got me hooked on sangria again, it was extra mega yum and the right level of boozy. While the Sangria at the event was amazing, I thought I’d share my unbeatable Sangria recipe.
Fruit (Apple’s, Pears, Oranges and Grapes)
750ml Red wine
10 ml Raspberry Kersh
I would just thank Icelolly.com again for putting on such a nice event. There was just the right balance of networking and presentations to make it a stress-free environment for me.