I attended the BlogHer ’14 conference a few weeks ago in San Jose, CA. The line up of speakers was amazing: Kerry Washington, Arianna Huffington, Guy Kawasaki, Beth Kanter, Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess, Barb Dywad of Engadget, Demetria Lucas, Tig Nataro, Danae Ringelmann from IndieGogo, Lindsey Shepard of Goldieblox, danah boyd, and Kara Swisher to name a few. I wanted to share with you my biggest takeaway. (see my photo album)
We all suffer from pain
It’s inflicted from the very moment we are removed from our mother and must cope with that terrible feeling. It repeats at frequencies that are unique to each of us. It never ends and we endure or perish. I had a fangirl moment while listening to danah boyd. She’s a social media scholar, an advocate working at Microsoft Research at NYU’s Media Culture & Communication, as well as Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Fun fact: in 2009 she was named one of the most influential women in technology. I highly respect her work with teens and social media. She was one of the many keynotes and told us about her journey as a writer of blogs. She made one comment that blew me away. She mentioned the first post visible on her blog wasn’t the actual first post. Her first blog post was an exploration as a survivor of rape and that, in hindsight, she felt the post didn’t set a good tone for the blog so she removed it.
I was amazed because a) it was a major statement about her personal life that didn’t cause her to flinch as she said it in front of hundreds of people and b) she edited her blog for tone and that it’s nature changed over time. The room felt as if it moved in slow motion as I sat back and took in what that meant to me: She was (is) still on her journey, that we all have chapters, and it’s okay to curate your own story.
Truthfully, the person I really freaked out about seeing was Jenny Lawson better known as The Bloggess. Her wit and writing style are so sharp that you need to back up or you’ll get cut. I discovered her blog years ago but for some reason, I’d stopped following her posts. After I’d already signed up to attend BlogHer, I got an email that she would be speaking and I lost it. Out of all the speakers, she was the one I wanted to hear from.
It’s okay to be a mess
From the very first moment, Jenny spills all over the place. Her awkward yet endearing messages are so funny, your sides will hurt. She’s not afraid to be who she is because she simply has no choice. She has medical, emotional, and mental issues and isn’t afraid to be honest about them. She’s candid about her pain in a way that I’ve simply never heard before. She’s not funny in spite of her illnesses, she’s funny because of them.
The pain we all carry is required. It’s required to be human. Hearing from those two speakers talk of their pain and challenges, then spending the next two days hearing the same from hundreds of other women, writers, and humans really sealed it for me. Pain is necessary. Pain is not a hindrance, it’s a rudder. It steers us along and the journey we have is a part of the pain.
I learned a lot about other bloggers, crowdfunding, affiliate marketing, videos, and varying styles of writing but this lesson was not on the agenda.
(The featured image is of me and Jenny Lawson. I saw her all by herself at the lunch hour and I literally ran over to her. I knew it was my one chance to say thank you. She was very sweet and I took a rare selfie with a celebrity [ugh]. On the other hand, Guy Kawasaki decided he wanted a group shot with women of color and felt he needed to go the extra mile in selling the shot.)
Best picture from #BlogHer14, IMHO pic.twitter.com/LJVLd0HMeL
— Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) July 26, 2014
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