Of conferences and anxiety disorders

Sorry I’ve been MIA.  I was in New Orleans at the Mom 2.0 Summit where I spoke about the time I got crabs of the hand from a Japanese sex dungeon.  (FYI…when I got back to America I found out that it was just a rash from petting some rabbits but I never actually clarified that in my talk and afterward no one would shake my hand.  This is a helpful life-hack for germophobes.)

I only go to one or two conferences a year because it’s too hard with my anxiety disorder but I can usually push through it and come home with a lot of ridiculous, fun stories to write about.  This time, however, my anxiety moved to full-scale paralyzing panic and I spent more than half of my time in my room.  It was fine because the conference was wonderful and I still got to meets lots of amazing people and spend time with old friends but by the second day of spending 75% of my day locked alone in my room I started to feel like a gigantic failure and I may have cried the ugly cry just a bit.  Then my friend Karen called to say “You’ve been missing for days.  I’m coming to get you” but when she got there I was all “No, I’m fine.  I think I just really need to cry and sleep and I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay” and then our other friend Maile called Karen and was all “I’m feeling overwhelmed and I just need to cry for no reason at all and for someone to tell me to calm down” and then Karen looked at me and wondered what she did to attract all the crazies to her and she was all “Okay.  We’re all three going to my room to have some wine and do a ridiculous photo-shoot with wigs and fake cigarettes and masks.”

And that’s exactly what we did.

And it was perfect.

But here’s the thing…  I’m a huge fan of conferences.  They are amazing and wonderful and everyone should go to one at least once, but I think what I finally learned this time around is that it’s okay to give yourself permission to stay in your room, or to not go to all the parties, or to skip the conference altogether and just have dinner with an old friend.  What I learned is that (for some of us) the best way to enjoy a conference is to not actually go to the conference.  And that’s okay.  And a few hours later when Karen and Maile got ready for the late night conference party  I decided to skip it and slip back to my hotel and order room service again.  But for once, I didn’t feel hopeless and I didn’t feel like a failure.

I felt lucky.

PS. I still adore conferences and I will probably always go to Mom 2.0 and Blogher but I think what I learned is that it’s okay to look at a conference as a buffet and you don’t have to eat everything on it.  It’s okay to go a party and a few panels and then to give yourself permission to spend the rest of the time relaxing in bed or exploring the city.  It’s okay to be alone.  It’s just as fun to spend a night in with one friend as it is to be at a fancy party with hundreds.  It’s okay to be a conference junkie and go to them all.  It’s okay to never go to one.  Either way?  It’s going to be okay. And that was all I needed to know.

218 thoughts on “Of conferences and anxiety disorders

Read comments below or add one.

  1. The only conference type thing I’ve ever been to is the fly-fishing convention my husband makes me go to every year. I like it because the hotel has shrimp cocktail, which I think tastes best in a hotel.

    One year I was carrying on about how I couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel room for some shrimp cocktail. My sneaky man told all the salty fishermen that “shrimp cocktail” was code for a particular act, but he didn’t warn me. Now all those guys think I’m some kind of hotel sex freak. Praise Conferences!

  2. There are times when you make me laugh but there are more times when you simply make me glad that you exist and that you are out there walking the world somewhere.

    Not to get all mushy, but you are wonderful. (And your friends are too.)

  3. I am so terrified of blogher. It’s my first year and I’m scared shitless that I will end up in my room, afraid to come out. Or worse, I’ll just hightail it home before I get to see anything. I’m glad I’m not alone. Thank you for the permission to hide away and not feel bad about it.

    The crazies are coming out just thinking about attending. Gah.

  4. I’m glad you were there. And I loved seeing you, if only for a little bit, even if half that time was backstage with me nervous and unable to process anything you were saying. So see? It works both ways.

  5. Last year, I went to New York solely for the purpose of attending ONE “BlogHer” happy hour. It was fantastic to get to see the city and the people I know and love without the drama I experienced when I attended the full-blown BlogHer in San Francisco.

    This year, I am attending The Blathering in Austin….and possibly might fly over to San Diego to see the girls I know and love that are going to BlogHer but I’m not sure if I’ll ever go full conference again. It’d have to be a really interesting conference (the one that might blow up my skirt has to do with food)

  6. I was snowed in. Literally. Airport closed on my way to Mom 2.0. I was heart broken. And yet, I survived missing it, and had a fabulous weekend with family. Life didn’t turn out how I planned it; it turned out better.

    Funny how that happens.

    (And those photos are lovely.)

  7. Jen…

    That’s a great story, and an even better photo-shoot.

    Going to conferences is part of my gig, no two ways about it. But I often go and spend most of my time just sitting in the lobby bar and talking to friends, old and new. Glad you found a way to do it. — GeePawHill

  8. Wow, you are an inspiration rock star.
    You look fab in the photos as well.

    I recently went to a meeting for work and spent the entire time talking louder and more animated than everyone else, yet I cannot express myself in writing nearly as well and I would like and honestly, it breaks my heart that I can be the charming and witty in person but I can’t express that when I write.

  9. When I go to conferences and then feel like I’m overwhelmed and go to my room, nobody seems to wonder what became of me. Now I know the secret: Wigs, cigarettes, masks, wine! Got it.

    Also could be useful items if I go to prison. Not that I’m planning to, but you never know.

  10. Love the red wig . . . you look like a smoking hot crayon . . or like Bai Ling but I think that is an insult and not at all what I was getting at!
    Anyways, Edenland posted something similar about realizing that she doesn’t care about family dinners and how freeing that was for her. It can be so freeing to finally let go and realize that everything is going to be okay . . . even if it looks like it is all going to shit.

  11. –>I have never gone to a blogger conference but at least everyone I like online didn’t disappoint me in real life. That is my glass half-full approach to never going to BlogHer. It’s weak though.

  12. Thanks for posting this. I think its important to give ourselves the OK to just BE , when we need to BE the way we need to BE.

    Conferences can be incredibly overwhelming and being a cafeteria conference goer (where you pick and choose what you want from the buffet of things to do and places to go) is fine. I plan to spend a lot of BlogHer alone by the pool (i friggin hope theres a pool). I will pick and choose places and events that will make me happy and I will not push myself this year. Why? Because then its not fun.

    And if it aint fun (your own definition of fun) then what’s the point?!

    Kudos to you chica!


  13. A conference has to be really good, and the crowd have the right vibe for me to really enjoy myself. Usually, I “time out” for a good part of it and use them as an opportunity to unwind from my high stress, 24-hour a day job. Also, I think the fact everyone is glued to their technology has destroyed their social skills in settings like conferences. I use to attend conferences and leave feeling like I’d really connected with a few people who do what I do for a living. Now, not so much. That makes me sad.

  14. I’ve never been to any type of conference, and I think maybe because of this, that there is some empty hole in my heart.

    Or maybe it’s because I’ve never taken time to take goofy pictures with my friends that feature wigs and fake cigarettes. And feather boas I think should be involved as well.

    I need to rectify this. Immediately.

  15. Aww, you’re never a failure! I love love love your buffet analogy. I’ve just decided that life is a buffet… it’s okay to sample new items, skip some altogether, or pile your plate high with comfort foods. Hhmm. What if life were a buffet of CANDY?! With lots of M&Ms. And chocolates. If you consider chocolates “candy”. I do, because clearly chocolate fits into every food group. Even the candy group (the base of the pyramid).

  16. One time in high school, I was on a trip with the orchestra, and we stopped at one of those buffet chains they have in the south and I loaded up my plate with chicken nuggets. Except they were fried chicken livers. Which are not as delicious. Sometimes, skipping part of the conference buffet might mean you aren’t surprised by fried poultry byproducts.

  17. And that is why I love you. You are a total rockstar Jenny, even when you are ordering room service. I’ve learned its also okay to walk away from your blog for 4 months if that’s what you need to do…so I did. ((HUGS))

  18. I used to attend behavioral science conferences when I worked in academic publishing. It was fun to note the distinct differences between those who attended APA and those who attended Psychotherapy Networker (more yoga mats and cats sweatshirts). That and I always got a free tote bag.

    My fave conference was one in Montreal, where one vendor was giving away maple fudge.

    Oddly enough, as a writer, I have NEVER been to a writing conference.

    p.s. @Lori: omg, she IS the Fifth Element chick! @Jenny: I’m sort of in love with that pic and wish I could pull off a sassy wig like you do. You always look so amazing.

  19. well. THAT and that you should NEVER EVER pick up anything that falls on the ground in NOLA. Do you know how many people vomit on those streets?

  20. That’s my favourite picture of you ever. The last one. The red. The coy little smirk. … …

    That sounded pervy. How did that sound pervy? I was being totally earnest. Now it sounds like I’m a wig-fetishist. Which I’m not. Unless it’s Jenny wigging it. OH WAIT. DON’T HIT SUBM–

  21. Dead serious here. I don’t know anything about social anxiety disorder. But I wonder whether a bodyguard would help. Not joking. And I would be your bodyguard if I could. I’m Tessa’s bodyguard for life.

  22. I wanna go to a conference! I’ve never been. I wanna party all night and wake up hungover to do it again…at a conference. /stamps foot I WANNA!

  23. Great pictures. I think your honesty about anxiety is wonderful and helpful to so many. I am also super happy that you have found a way to balance your anxiety with things you feel you need to do…very inspiring. Thanks.

  24. I love that your friends had wigs and fake cigarettes on hand. A wind machine, Cee Lo Green, and chardonnay and I would have been my heaven!

  25. I can totally relate to your nervous breakdown at a conference. I, too, have had similar experiences at the National Mascot for Major Holidays Conference (Or, what I like to call the NMMHC). Santa can be a real conceited DOUCHENUGGET. And those little bastard Leprechauns…with their little shoes and pots’o’gold. They get into EVERYTHING. Just last year, I stayed all snuggled up in bed at the hotel, eating carrots and watching Spongebob Squarepants because I just couldn’t take another day of it.

    I think that perhaps your opening paragraph would create a stir in the critter community, however, and that perhaps it would be respectable to do one of those “Bloggess PPPPPS” things you do so well and explain why it is that you got a rash on your hand from petting bunnies. Because – BEING a bunny, I can tell you that we don’t give out random rashes…and also, you HUMANS oughta know better than to pet wildlife and NOT WASH YOUR HANDS AFTERWARDS! It’s COMMON SENSE. But…I suppose you shouldn’t listen to a bunny that shoots cream filled chocolate eggs out of their butt.
    I love you, The Easter Bunny

  26. Thanks Jenny. I’ve been dealing with Depression and Anxiety lately – which is new for me. Nice to know I’m not alone. xo
    PS: You look beautiful – especially for someone who had recently been crying 🙂

  27. That is such good news to hear, my lady. I think you are on the verge of “growing up”. Not that I recommend it, but sometimes it happens and how amazing is it to feel that certainty all on your own? Pretty amazing. Rock on!

  28. I know it’s not your usually stabby wolveriney taxidermied silly fare, but I really love it when you make these frank posts about your anxiety disorder. Having an anxiety disorder myself, it’s fantastic to be able to bookmark these posts, and when people give me the “WTF? We made these plans months ago and suddenly you can’t leave your house?” look, I can just point and go “This.”

  29. The “ugly cry” comes out any time I watch pretty much any Disney movie ever. I also need to know where you got your wigs. I have a blonde bombshell wig and a giant afro. I need a crazy anime character red one like you now.

  30. Sounds like a good time.

    I once went to a BDSM conference (dont ask how I got invited or found out about it) and I went to one class and it was fun and weird but I didn’t really go to anything else. It was a little overwhelming. I mean a regular conference is a little scary but one where everyone was dressed in leather or latex and asking me if I liked to be spanked was crazy! but it was fun and I met some nice people. Sometimes doing less is more fun! 🙂

  31. I pretty much hate conferences. I went to one last week where the highlight was that the host looked like the lovechild of Skippy from Family Ties and Jay Leno. I have a photo. And I’m spot on!

  32. Anxiety is totally afraid of red wigs.

    Red wigs kick anxieties ass. Especially when a bad ass motherfucker is wearing one!

    Skipping Blogher this year even if I don’t sell my party pass because I only bought the party pass because all I wanted to do was party and pass (out) in front of thousands of people I don’t know. In lieu of it I am meeting up with new found bloggy friends in NYC in July and that is perfect for me.

    Except they may not like it when I “accidentally” leave my dentures in a glass on the night stand on their side of the bed.

  33. Last year my nurse practitioner husband took me along with our son to Chicago because he had a conference. My husband is NOT a people person. I had planned a day of double decker bus touring with our son (who is 14) and then dinner at the Navy Pier. My husband decided that was a much better plan the his conference, so he skipped it and hung out with us all day! Great memories for us. Even on the days we were just going to hang in the hotel room and swim he still wanted to stay with us, but I had to force him to his conference. Some people just aren’t made for conferences. He is one. I LOVE LOVE your pictures! How fun!

  34. Your philosophy doesn’t just apply to conferences–I use this advice almost every day.
    However, I will have to take advantage of your solution of a photo shoot with wine, cigs and wine. I don’t drink, though, so I’ll replace the wine with Atavan. Sounds like a real party!
    Invites will say: “Get high with an anxiety-ridden psycho!”
    Yep. Gold plated.

  35. You totally need to go to a drag queen conference (is there one?) because you will be in wig heaven. Plus, you would then get to write about drag queens.

  36. LOVE the red hair look – you should update your piccies with that one!!

    I would have loved to see you in action at Mom 2.0 but I didn’t go perhaps next time!

  37. I’ve never been to a blogger conference and probably never will. I’m not that great of a blogger. Plus, I do suffer from anxiety as well.

    I used to go to Las Vegas sales conferences with my ass of an ex… everyone else was out partying and gambling. Me? I *loved* staying at the hotel and watching movies with room service food in my hotel room. Every once in a while, I would stroll down and tan by the amazing pool, which was deserted because who goes to Vegas to sit by the damn pool? Me.

  38. You are so right. I have learned this too, and it is okay to do whatever the hell you want! There are no hard and fast rules that say you have to go to everything there is, just because you are at a conference.

    You look HAWT in that red wig, and I’m so glad your buddies hung out with you!

  39. me too. this was my first conference and really just wanted to hole up the entire time. you did a wonderful job with the photos! (i do love those guys!) if it’s any consolation, your panel and reading were both extraordinarily funny and well-received. looking fwd to seeing you at blogher, too!

  40. p.s. you are the only blogger i can follow on twitter bec all the others are constantly @ing each other and making it seem like a huge fabulous clique that won’t let anyone else in. but not you.

  41. The buffet analogy is SO PERFECT. I think a good part of my anxiety is that I feel like I not only have to try everything on the buffet, I have to eat a FULL PORTION of each thing. Or maybe that’s not the analogy anymore, maybe that’s just how I feel about buffets.

  42. Wonderful photos … little wonder than you felt better after goofing around.

    I had the pleasure of hanging out with Karen in Montrose back in the day. If anyone can help you feel that everything is “okay,” she can.

  43. Unfortunately, when I go to conferences, I’m paid to go and learn stuff. I don’t get to skip much. Every once in a while I’ll go to my room and put my feet up and a washcloth on my face and enjoy the quiet. And I rarely go to the parties for more than a few minutes. I’m not great in a bunch of people and am always so relieved to get back home!

  44. Jenny, you are full of the awesome. And you look really pretty in those pictures. No, I am not hitting on you. OK, maybe I am. Just don’t tell my husband.

  45. I had to do a double take to see that I didn’t write this post myself while in an Ambien induced haze. I do tend to sleep tweet and other such nonsense.

    I love a good conference. Mostly for the toys and stress balls they give out. And really, stress balls are the BEST kind of balls. The last one I went to I spent the 3 days I was there watching movies and eating room service. Oh, I did stop by the conference to collect a bunch of giveaway crap and attend one session, in case my boss asked how it went.

    I think everyone does that. Not sure why there are so many people at the convention, though.

  46. So glad you were there – so glad I saw you – even from a distance – and the pictures? Gorgeous and simple fun. You’re right – the best part of conferences is enjoying them the best way you can….. happy you did.

  47. I’m amazed that you even GO to the conferences at all. I have to work myself up, take deep breaths and reassure myself things will be okay just to go across town. Anxiety sucks! But your sharing your experiences makes me feel like I’m not alone and you encourage me to do things that would terrify me.

    The photo shoot looks like fun!! Awesome to have friends like that!

  48. I’m the kind of girl who would be sitting alone in the lobby texting my mother so people would think I was updating my (imaginary) zillion followers on Twitter. Those kind of social gatherings scare the bejeesus out of me. It’s like high school all over again, minus the bad perm. Especially when I really try to be cool, but it comes off as “PLEASE TO BE LIKING ME!” creepiness. So you’re not alone. Next time you need to freak out, just look for the terrified-looking chick hiding behind the potted plants. That’ll be me, and I’ll have Xanax. Or vodka.

  49. Many of your other commenters already said this better, but I just want to echo that I sure am glad that you are who you are.

  50. Not feeling the funny, just very, very fond of you and the way you share your wisdom.

    The be-wigged sage at the buffet.

  51. I love that you are brave enough to share this side of your life with your readers, because it shows you are what others call “relate-able” and what I call a sassy, ball busting superhero who does her best to confront the kryptonite.

    On a “related note” I have only attended one non-legal conference and at that confy two things of note happened: (a) a mousy scifi writer sitting next to me at a poolside bar, half in the bag from LongIsland Iced Teas, told me that if you want to dispose of a dead body in water you need to gut it, because otherwise the colon bloats and floats; and (2) this occurred while I was stuck watching absurdly wealthy white people from newport beach do the white man’s over bite to a Sublime cover band that censored the lyrics by humming…

  52. I hear ya- it took me a while to realize that I could just sit in my room and do whatever I wanted when I was traveling or at a conference. What’s the point of forcing yourself to go out and do stuff when all you really want to do is lay in bed watching LOST on your ipod?

  53. I have a 4 year old and a chronically ill husband. I would LOVE to go to a “conference” and spend several days sleeping as much as I want, alone in my room, ordering room service.

    So no regrets, Jenny. For some of us, you’re living the dream. 😉

  54. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your confessions about your anxiety disorder make me not feel alone. In fact, they make me think I’ll be capable of putting on Grown Up Pants today and doing something other than lying in my bed watching Hulu and ordering delivery pizza (and yelling “Guys, pizza’s here!” as I open the door so the pizza guy won’t know I’m going to eat it alone. ALL OF IT.)

  55. Oh the hours I have spent in hotel rooms avoiding people. At weddings, on vacation, on a rare business trip. I know I could not handle a conference. It’s why I have avoided them thus far. I would spend the majority of the time in the bathtub.

  56. Yep.

    You are okay, just the way you are.

    And you are especially okay in a bright red wig.
    I dare you to wear it to your next parent-teacher conference.

  57. I love to go to Husband’s confrences, he has to make his appearances at the parties and meetings while I sleep in and order breakfast in bed, sit by the pool, visit the spa, go shopping and to see the show Menopause the musical or steal Husband away to see the ocean. Then Husband and I have really good meals at outrages places and time together away from The Boy. (In Las Vegas last year he won $700 gambling and I spent $800 at the outlet mall, most awesome time ever!)

  58. I agree that conferences are a buffet. I have more memories from spending the night in the room with friends Friday night and eating room service. And really that red-pink wig and the photo shoot is amazing!

  59. I totally think all conferences should be a buffet. Who wants to do it all?! Isn’t part of going the room service and sleep? And the booze??

  60. I have a love/hate relationship with people and public spaces and people in public spaces. Sometimes I’m like MAKE WAY FOR MY CAPE! and other times I’m a mess of nerves that just wants to be invisible. I don’t want to be this way, but I am. And I’m so glad you talk about it like it’s no big thang, because now I think it’s no big thang either. I’m just quirky and that’s okay. Except I don’t have any wigs. But I’ll work on that.

  61. I like conferences but only in doses, I used to go to a bunch for work and I had no choice but to go to every event, but at ones I go to for my pleasure I just hit a panel and a breakfast and call it a day. That works best for me.

    Love the wigs!

  62. I have never been to a conference but it’s good to know that if I go to one, I wouldn’t be the only person intimidated!
    Once my best friend and I went to NYC in college, we both used all our savings and we were there for such a little time, but we were exhausted so we decided to stay in one night. We spent probably 3 hours giggling and throwing grapes at a closet, and it was the best time I had on that trip. Sometimes the hotel part is the best part.

  63. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to have paralyzing anxiety like that but i do admire the fact that you’d go to the conference anyways. However, as someone who takes meds to regulate their chemistry on a daily basis, have you considered some antianxiety medication? I mean, i’m sure you’ve tried them but they work differently for everyone.

    Sorry, not my place…it’s just that i see stuff and i have a big mouth. Also, i always have a terrible urge to mother you. is that weird? Maybe…

    (I’m on a lot of medication for anxiety and I do behavioral therapy and meditation and all that jazz. It’s how I even manage to leave the house. ~ Jenny)

  64. The only conferences I’ve ever been to were for research…but nerds are a surprisingly rowdy bunch headed straight for a life of alcoholism..lol
    I hated giving speeches, so I found a way of making everyone feel just as uncomfortable as I was. As soon as I was introduced, I would tell the audience, “Okay, so before I begin, I need everyone to do something for me. If you could, please, raise your right hands? Thank you, and now move your wrist back and forth…good, now just a little faster…Well, hello to you, too! I was so uncomfortable up her before that wonderful greeting!” and then I usually got snickers or a rogue “sneaky bitch” but it was totally worth it. 🙂

  65. What wonderful friends and great photographs. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had some. Friends, that is, I don’t like being on the front end of a camera.

  66. I’m not a big crowds person either. Gives me all types of anxiety.. but if I ever get to one.. you and I babe. You and I can spend the day in the room. I’ll bring the booze… you supply the ice.

  67. Also, hell you have been through a lot lately Jenny. Maybe your reserves were just depleted? As far as I’m concerned the fact that you went at all is awesome. Love the wigs, love your supportive conference buddies!

  68. You handled it all very well. You found conference buddies! That and a judicious amount of alone time makes it easier. And tall drinks in tiki mugs. xo

  69. Life is too short to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. It’s okay to be you. And it’s wicked awesome to be you in a red wig.

  70. Just call your hotel room an “exclusive” complimentary conference. Jenny In A Wig 2011. Then you can charge your friends to come in and hang out with you. EVEN BETTER.

  71. Oh how I needed this post today. I too get anxious in crowds, and there’s a situation coming up on Friday that has got me on high alert. I posted a blurb about it on a site that is supposed to foster support, and one of the responses I got started off with “omg whiner.”. Nice. She clearly has no idea. I’m glad someone does. Thank you for this today! *hugz*

  72. I’ve always viewed BlogHer as a buffet. Sometimes, I just have to remove myself from it all and wander the streets of wherever we happen to be. Although, that was difficult during BlogHer 05 since we were out in the middle of nowhere and I was 7 months pregnant. For that one, I had to hide in a men’s restroom that thankfully, was converted into a women’s restroom for the day. Otherwise, that would have been a little strange, eh?

    Anyway, don’t be so hard on yourself.

  73. There were times when I couldn’t help but laugh at myself during Mom 2.0 as I stood by myself in the hallway or conference room or whatever, somehow managing to be completely alone while literally surrounded by 400 people because I felt too awkward to go up to nearly anybody and have a conversation. Ridiculous. I don’t know if I will go to BlogHer because I feel the same way there except there I’m alone while surrounded with 3000 people which is beyond lunacy.

  74. Jenny, you made memories that you’ll never forget. Isn’t that the whole point? I really hope you got to keep the red wig as a parting gift. It. Is. SAUCY.

    I learn more about me every time I read you.


  75. Good for you for confronting your anxiety! I also have paralyzing anxiety/panic attacks and I completely know the feeling of preferring to stay holed up in your room. I’m glad that you state here that it’s ok, that’s it not bad to want to just stay low key. There’s a lot of pressure to feel like you have to do everything, and you shouldn’t feel that way. Heck it’s your time, spend it the way that makes you feel the best!

    And also, I really applaud that you talk about your anxiety openly. I was so embarrassed at first when I would have these debilitating anxiety attacks. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I thought they would think I was just going crazy. Once I found out how common it was, and that there were so many ways to deal with/treat it, I was so relieved. While behavioral therapy and meds have been helpful, it’s reading things like this that remind me that everything’s going to be ok. So thank you!

  76. I already have “outs” planned for an upcoming conference/convention. It’s a medical convention for my kid, though, so it’s worth the anxiety, vomiting, and shaking that comes with it. And I’ve committed! We’re already begun fundraising, made it public, and since people have contributed, there’s no turning back. We’ll show up, I’ll smile, laugh, and have a great time, but return to the room and cry, jump on the bed, and take weird pictures of myself until I feel better. Then I’ll walk back out and keep trying to look calm and professional for my son…until I’m supposed to tell him to put his junk back in his pants and keep it off the table, but start laughing too hard to do it, and somewhere in the giggle fits, I flash everyone, fall over, say something to offend the majority, then accidentally set the place on fire. And when I tell my husband that this is my fear, he pats me and says, “It’s not like you haven’t done worse. We’ll deal with it.” Wish me luck.

  77. That was a very good post, your Bloggess. It is nice to know that I am not the only one with anxiety issues. And what a great solution! I think I am going to buy some wigs – btw, you look fabulous in the black one! And the red one is right cute too!

  78. I’ve never been to conferences – but went to ComicCon twice, both times meeting up with online friends. I was petrified that for some reason they wouldn’t like me in real life. I’m so glad I got up the nerve to go and meet them for the things I had committed to, but it was sure nice to have the safe, quiet hotel room to come back to and hide out for a while when it all got to bee too much.

    I love hearing your stories and feeling like my weird quirks are just as normal as everybody else’s!

  79. Ironically, because of the ‘women only’ thing, the only way I can get INTO Blogher or Mom 2.0 is to wear a wig.

    And heels.

    And a bra with all kinds of stuff in it.

    I also wear a feathered boa sometimes but that’s only if I feel like showing off.

  80. As a fellow anxiety disorder and panic attack sufferer…I know exactly what you mean. It’s great that you could just have fun in your room with friends and enjoy yourself. Lucky girl with lucky friends…

  81. Could you be any more photogenic tho? Man, if I looked that good in pictures I’d not only be at EVER conference, I’d also be in EVERY picture. I’d run behind groups of people and just wedge myself in there. Any time a camera was out – I’d be there. Any where someone was saying “cheese” – I’d be there. Stupid anxiety order is ruining the career you were meant to have – professional photo crasher!

  82. Yeah, we all need someone to tell us it’s going to be okay–except for when we don’t want to hear that it’s going to be okay cause then i feel like I want to stab that person in the eyeballs with a plastic fork. I usually don’t because it does end up being okay, but really who wants to admit that person was right?

  83. That last paragraph? People with anxiety can’t hear stuff like that enough. Thank you for being so open, it’s inspired me so much to see how much you do even with your anxiety disorder (I wouldn’t have been at the conference at all). I also think it’s more than OK not to do stuff if it just seems too challenging, it doesn’t make us failures.

    Oh, and you all look awesome in the wigs. I need more wigs in my life.

  84. Ahhhhhh the ugly cry, so good and so bad at the same time; If conferences are a buffet, and you don’t have to eat everything, is it still ok to stuff your purse with all the goodies you don’t want to shove down your gullet in front of people for fear of their judging you as a porker?

    Cause if so I am ON BOARD with going to as many conferences as I can, so that I hang out in my room until it’s time to hoard a purse conference!

  85. How can every other person in here have a Social Anxiety Disorder?
    This SAD is not ‘catchy’, is it? I already have Bombastic Assinine Lewd Laughing Syndrome, so I don’t need something new mixing with the BALLS I already have.
    Nobody wants to fuck a man with SAD BALLS.

  86. I’m going to my first conference next month and I’m all nervous about it. But I don’t think it’s a disorder, I think I just want everyone to like me and OMGWHATDOIDOIFTHEYDON’T??!?!?

    But I’m smart and funny and all that.. so it’ll be okay. But thank you for letting me know it’s okay if I end up cowering like a hermit in my room.

  87. OK, so I see that I am not the only one who gets nervous at conferences. I am gearing up for BlogHer, and I will keep this post in my memory files. Thanks so much for sharing!

  88. I have to go to a conference next month & am already having my anxiety freak out – especially once finding out the opening reception is going to be on a boat for 3 hours at sea, which means I can’t escape & run back to my room if I get too overwhelmed (which will happen) like I usually do. You have given me the courage to be okay with bailing out & having a quiet dinner somewhere by myself – and to not feel weird about it. THANK YOU!!

  89. Love this. I went to BlogHer last year and did not attend one session and missed two parties I was supposed to attend. But I had the most amazing afternoon touring NYC on a bus with @nummiesbras and spent some great time with people who I “sort of” knew – and now “really” know. I left feeling happy and fulfilled with memories that rock the kazbah.

  90. You will be okay; either that or we’ll have to stab anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Preatty sure will end up doing the latter.

    BTW: LOVE!!!!! the picture with the red wig ( I DIE!!!!…),gorgeous!

  91. Thanks for this. I’ve neve been to an out of town conference and I don’t think i ever will. Way too many unknown factors involved. But I went to a conference in my town a few weeks ago, and it was a nightmare. I felt so alone, so crazy. It was all I could do to sit through (most of) one presentation and buy the stuff on my list from the vendor hall with only one chocolate chip cookie (my favorite medicine). It was a conference related to homeschooling (which we do) so in addition to feeling like a failure as a regular person, I felt like a failure as a mom, too.

    It’s good to hear that it will be OK. Even if I don’t always believe.

  92. It’s always okay to be you. (As long as “being you” doesn’t entail harvesting homeless peoples’ toenails and baking them into cupcakes and feeding them back to the same homeless people.)

    Also, has anyone told you that you’re retardedly adorable? Seriously, it kinda makes me want to barf.

  93. I LOVE you! Any social situation gives me HUGE anxiety, but you – YOU – give me hope! Thanks for that!
    When I went to Blogher last year I was so nervous I almost vomited on pretty much everything: from the people I met to the various items I used to hold myself up like columns, plants, and, sometimes, strangers or hotel staff.

  94. Skipping the funny and just wanted to say that I think it’s great you continue to speak out about your anxiety publicly. I do the same with my anxiety and depression and the folks it helps is unlimited. xoxox

  95. Welcome Home Jenny, I was practically gulping Xanax not knowing where you were and of course, imagining the worst. One of your other readers told me you were at a conference and I was so grateful to hear that. Here’s my 2 cents for myself: if it doesn’t feel right in my stomach, it’s not right. Do what you are comfortable with! I’m so glad you are back!!

  96. I want to thank you for being so open about your anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed about a year ago, after this perfect student got kicked out of school for failing all my classes. It’s hard to learn anything when you’re having panic attacks in every class, every day. My mom has finally come around a little bit, but still often sees it as a weakness, and not something real. My boyfriend is more understanding, as he’s been woken up several times to my trying to crawl into his skin in a horrible panic attack, but still doesn’t understand it. It’s good to know that this isn’t something that will determine everything in my life, sometimes it’s ok to take care of myself instead of do what others expect of me, and to know I’m not alone. So thank-you so much for being open and reminding us all it’s ok. <3

  97. Ok, first, I am SO HAPPY you are back! Secondly, I too suffer from anxiety disorder and struggle at large events. Thank you for giving me some hope that it’s ok to let myself learn to live with my disorder and that things are manageable. You still rock my socks off Jenny!

  98. “I think what I finally learned this time around is that it’s okay to give yourself permission to stay in your room, or to not go to all the parties, or to skip the conference altogether and just have dinner with an old friend. What I learned is that (for some of us) the best way to enjoy a conference is to not actually go to the conference.”

    I’m coming to terms with this one, myself. I’m in a nerd organization that I’ve fallen out of love with, but I can’t seem to break away from it and its hugely discounted room rates for our annual international conference. I want to go and see the cities and the people I love, but I could give a fuck about the games and panels and whatevers. This year, I intend to go to New Orleans, stay in the French Quarter for 25% of the price, and not go to a single sponsored event. Let’s do Popeye’s instead and get hammered on hurricanes.

  99. I don’t know if I will ever go to a conference…but I think that the moral of this story could be applied to most situations in life. Especially socially stressful ones. And it’s one I needed to hear right now. Thank you!

    Also, now I want to do a photo shoot with my friends. Awesome.

  100. Ah, panic and anxiety, my two closest, bitchiest friends. They are the fuckers who keep me tied down – and not in a good way.

    Glad you had the breakthrough. The pictures look super sexytime.

  101. Kudos to you for having a good time! I have always wanted to go to one of these conferences, but as a blogger who is not paid, it seems like a difficult and costly venture to justify at the moment. Still, love reading about people’s experiences attending. This one and Blogher are the most intriguing by far!

  102. Goddammit! I cut my long hair off to deal with my anxiety and not for one moment did it occur to me to use wigs!


  103. You are so ridiculously cute in all of your disguises. I heart you. And your blog.

  104. See, I did not KNOW I would be needing to pack a wig for Blogher 11. This is why I read this educational and informative blog.

  105. I need to go to a conference so I can discover whether or not I have anxiety issues or if I’m just a grouch.

  106. As a fellow anxiety-wracked person, I thank you for this. <3

    I went to an archaeology conference once. My best friend & I did David Attenborough-esque narrations of the "Archaeology Professor in his Natural Plumage (ie. Tweed)" and the "Mating Rituals of Anthropology Grad Students" from our spot along the wall during the Saturday night party.

    Possibly not the best networking I've ever done, but we couldn't stop laughing. Best friend + hilarity = best anxiety buster EVER.

  107. Love you Jenny! My 31 year old son suffers from a paralyzing form of GAD which basically – unless he’s with me, is dad or his one and only friend – keeps him locked in his apartment 24/7. He is a brilliant and talented guy but can’t get past – or figure out a way to live with – his anxiety beyond hiding in his room. I keep hoping that something or someone will be able to inspire him to realize that it is worth it to poke his head outside and see what a wonderful world is out there, even if it is in small doses.

  108. Glad you eventually found your way back out and into public…I was worried for the first couple days. Good seeing you again! In August, you’ll finally get to meet Mrs Muskrat.

  109. Thanks for being awesome. Kinda wanted to say something via twitter when all was happening but felt all rubbish about it as I’ve only been following you for about a month now. But you are awesome and anxiety is a bitch, I know. But alone time rocks when needed.

    Glad you’re feeling better and officially wish I had friends who would spontaneously photo shoot with me!

  110. First I love the pics, totally double rainbow awesome. Now. I went to the conference because I said to myself, ” Self, if Jenny can do it, you can do it, even if you don’t own a pet badger”. Yes it’s true that I spent a lot of time hyperventilation and the rest hiding on a patio. But that’s ok. The silkwood showers helped, and the Ritz was super considerate with helping out with 55 gallon drums of germ x. The point was, with all my health and issues I did it. I made the leap. I do have contact issues even with the closest of life long friends, but you saved me from the paper bag breathing in the lobby, and your reading at the Eiffel Society was the BOMB, ( to clarify you didn’t bomb your rocked, as in Steven Tyler called me asking if I could get you to give him lessons and shit). You did great, you were amazing. More over you gave me the strength and courage to step out from behind the keyboard and go forth. Yes this time I didn’t tell people who I was, and I couldn’t use any public restrooms ( how do you hide in those? my god!) But honestly sweety if you could see the people you reach, without even knowing it, even Victor would have to bow to your greatness. If the Queen wasn’t hopped up on Royal RX she would knight your adorable ass. Also it’s not salmonella it’s the other thing.

  111. I love this post and the buffet analogy. I think I’m going to slap “It’s going to be okay” on my mirror, in my car, in my office, above my bed, everywhere!

  112. Anxiety disorders deserve to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The real deal. Emasculated, disemboweld, beheaded, cut into pieces with their bloody remains displayed all over town.

    They are that evil.

    Counselor stamp of approval though for how you handled it. I love that you went back to your room and ordered room service after the impromptu photo shoot. So awesome. And what you were saying was exactly right. Seriously, I might send clients to this post because you explained it so perfectly.

  113. Jenny, you have such a way of putting things, scary things, into perspective. You have great wigs, take great pics, and have even greater friends-that beats a conference any day.

  114. At least once a year I go away to a city I once lived in and get a suite and order room service and hold the remote and read and take a bath and look out the window. Sometimes I just think. Sometimes I see friends and sometimes I take to my bed. I have kids and a husband and dogs and fish and chickens and it’s all overwhelming and sometimes I need to be by myself as much as I need to be with others. I have just started to accept that and I am glad you have done the same. We expect so much of ourselves and can only give so much before we turn inside out and there is nothing left. You are so adorable and stinking cute. Keep on BEING. xoxoxo

  115. Jenny…last week I was having one of my mild (major) meltdowns. A good friend told me that it was alright to cry, it was alright to be scared and it was alright to melt occasionally…so long as I remembered to talk to someone if I felt I was sinking too far. Permission to sink is sometimes the most wonderful, healing thing on Earth. To feel that it is alright to not be like everyone else is very calming. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you you’re going to be ok. Thanks for saying it occasionally. I wish everyone had friends like that. Personally, I don’t know if I’d make it without them sometimes.

  116. It took all the courage I could muster to come up to you and say hello. And then you were so kind and gracious and so genuinely happy when I told you how great you were on your panel. And then you gave me a copy of a magazine with you in the cover! MADE MY DAY.

    (It took all the self-control in the world not to ask you to autograph it and give me your phone number so we can text because now we’re besties. But I didn’t because I didn’t want you to think I was weird. I guess it’s too late now. Oops.)

  117. I go to a mommy conference every year and have for 10 years now. About the 3rd year in I “skipped” an entire day of sessions!! I felt so guilty – it was a Christian conference after all! I sat in a corner, drank coffee, and read. It was probably the best time I’ve ever had. It was so freeing to give myself permission to just be. I think that’s what God wanted me to do all along – I just had to get out of the way. Thank you for being yourself, always. You inspire me to make life more fun. Anxiety and all.

  118. i have to go to conferences for work [not blogging, unfortunately] a lot. a year ago, i knew no one, and had to give talks and was completely overwhelmed. and lonely. and just plain old emotionally worn out.

    but then this year, something changed. there were familiar faces at the conferences, and people remembered me from the previous year. also? i made plans with a coworker from another state to go out one night. i felt a lot more like i belonged, and like i could relax.

    all that to say, it probably has little to do with what you’re experiencing, because the bloggess at a blogging conference is like kate middleton… well, anywhere. i’m not anyone special at my conferences, and i certainly am not a household name in my industry, the way you are in the blogging world. i’m sure there’s a lot of added pressure and scrutiny [real or just perceived], and if you’re alone and without a posse, it’s enough to send anyone to their room to hide.

    however, i give you MAD PROPS [i am from 10 years ago] for admitting this on your blog. and giving people the freedom to admit to feeling the same way.

  119. I have to say that I hate that you had such a hard time coming out of your room, but am glad you had a few friends there to have fun with.

    This is going to sounds sad and pathetic but I actually only wanted to meet one blogger at this conference, and it was YOU!

    While I don’t feel like I wasted the entire $500 bucks I think my next plan of action is to start stalking you in your own hometown! My chances have to be better…right?

    Ok, so I’m off to run a background check, and credit report on you… your full name is The Bloggess right? I just want to make sure because sometimes people also have middle names that they don’t like to talk about; but I’m guessing if you did you would talk about it because that’s just how you roll. I mean I’m not really even sure if the people at FreeCreditReport.com care if I have your middle name. They would probably just like for me to have your SS# and maybe your DOB. I’m pretty sure I have a few friends that can get me this info, though it will cost me a small fortune. People who work from jail charge big fees, I mean I get it. They own their own business’ but I work from home, and I don’t charge nearly as much!

    Since you disappointed me by not meeting me in person and exchanging business cards, and pretending to like me (not that anyone else there did this, I’m just saying it’s how I saw it going down) maybe you could just give me your address so I can swing by for a visit. I won’t stay long, my husband says our separation is temporary, so I think he’ll take me back really soon, or when he finds out no one else wants to have sex with him. Either way, I’m sure it will be a short stay!

    Ok, so if I’m being serious for a minute I can say that I would have been scared to death to meet you because I am extremely shy and a huge dork. I can always dream though… I just hope it’s not like the dream I had about meeting Dooce. In that dream (or scaremare as I call it) I accidentally said “Hi Douche” . YIKES – NOT COOL…AT. ALL

  120. Hey. I was glad to see you, if only for 3.5 seconds. I know it wasn’t easy to get up there and do a reading but it was one of the best parts of the conference. Besides maid service.

  121. Maybe not Mom 2.0 but I wonder how men at conferences like BlogHer would be received…seriously considering attending!

    (There are always quite a few guy bloggers at these conferences. They’re welcomed. ~Jenny)

  122. I just stay locked in my bedroom at home instead of a hotel room. It’s cheaper. Unfortunately it doesn’t have friends and fun wigs, so apparently I’m missing out.

  123. I’m sorry you suffer from anxiety. It truly sucks. Kudos to you for going and pushing through it to speak. You are made of awesome.

  124. I’m glad you got out of your room for some of it, because I’ve heard good things about when you were on your panel. I’m sure you were fantastic.

    Also, how amazing to have friends that take you away for photo shoots with wigs and cigarettes. Phenomenal.

    Conferences should be treated like a buffet. Very wise. As always, very wise.

  125. I love conferences but I always feel like I’m wasting the room – which is usually bigger than my college apartment – by being out and about. Especially if it is a suite. I feel like I need to watch TV in every room to get my money’s worth. But I’ve never brought wigs. Note to self…

  126. Maile and I had a long talk about this exact thing. Well, not the photoshoot with crazy wigs, the anxiety and overwhelming stuff. It’s OK. Do it whatever way works for you, babes.

  127. OMG I miss my friends that usually put up with my anxiety and my messiness.

    I think I need to go home. Because I need to cry to a friend and have them tell me everything is going to be okay and it isn’t the same through video chat and Australia is very, very far away from L.A..

    And I miss a lot of stuff. Like friends. And tacos.

  128. You, my dear, are the most fantastical person I have ever met. Anxiety might make it hard for you to connect in real life, but your words online are a window and it’s pretty awesome to be able to say hello without feeling like intruding. of course it’s okay. But you already knew that.

  129. I feel like it would be a disservice to write something along the lines of “you’re awesome” and leave it at that, because the truth is your blog and your amazing self are so much more than that. I admire you so much for your ability to relate stories about your crippling anxiety on the internet where anyone at all can read your words. You truly are an inspiration to me. I have such awful social phobias that I often stay in my apartment for weeks at a time. My long suffering husband does most of the grocery shopping and errands so that I don’t have to go out in public. To read your blog and hear you talk about some of the same issues that I battle daily with such enthusiasm and positivity gives me the courage to at least try. I give myself little “what would Jenny do?” pep talks when I have to go places. I hope that you understand how encouraging your words are.

  130. “It’s okay to be alone. It’s just as fun to spend a night in with one friend as it is to be at a fancy party with hundreds.” I’m learning this.
    Also, I’ve been wondering lately if it’s okay to be serious about feelings and mental anguish on my funny blog. Is that okay? Will everyone lose interest if I’m not fucking hilarious today? Yes. Because more than people like to laugh, they like to feel like they’re not different. You make me feel like I’m just like everyone else in the best possible way.

    So, I think I needed this for two different reasons, today. Thank you for teaching lessons.

  131. Why can’t there be cool blogging conferences in Canada I can go to and have a panic attack at? There is one this May in Vancouver, anybody going? Bueller? Bueller?

  132. We are indeed blessed to have great true friends like that who would rescue us, more often than not, from ourselves. That picture of you in the pink wig? Stunning (but it kind of goes without saying doesn’t it?)

    What you said about the conference going experience needs to be turned into a book “The Okay Book for Grown-ups” a la Todd Parr’s The Okay Book series.

  133. Red wigs make everything better as does room service.

    I tend to be the type of person who wants to do EVERYTHING and then I burn out. I think buffet style is the way to go.

    Lookit you being all smexy with your fake cigarette.

    I am totally with you on the being-afraid-of-people-and-then-feeling-like-a-failure-because-who-the-hell-is-irrationally-afraid-of-people thing. It’s pretty much the story of my life, right there. But I’m glad you found something that works for you – in this case, having hotel rooms to hide in and friends to hide with.

    I’ve only partially participated in a conference once, and that was a conference for tidal modelling software and there were only like twenty people there are they were all old government science department geeks. But I got to eat fancy, expensive seafood chowder, so I guess that’s something.

  135. I’m so glad I was finally able to hunt you down like a rabid dog in the ladies room at BlogHer last summer. It was great to finally meet my little sister our mom sold so long ago.

  136. I get terribly anxiety ridden, as well. I totally understand why you’d want to stay in your room… I mean, there are so many people!
    You have lovely friends with lovely ideas who take wonderful pictures.

  137. Thank goodness for you! I always thought I was the only one who wanted to hide in such situations. You are funny, hugely talented, you have great friends and you are perfectly ok xxx.

  138. Amazing photos, and yes. The more conferences I go to, the more I try to fly solo.

    Because coordinating anything in a lobby will send anyone into hysteria.

  139. It was great to meet you at the Court of Two Sisters, where I coveted your pink Epiphanie bag (I decided on gray, by the way). I just love attending your panel sessions, so thanks for doing them.

  140. Hello! I’m reading your blog for the first time. And holy smokes Batman! Why have I not discovered you sooner? This post was especially enlightening to me. I have recently become more accepting of my need to spend time alone even though I “should” be elsewhere. Thank you for making this less crazy. 🙂

  141. Thank you for writing this. I went to BlogHer last year. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to go go go to as much as I could. I was nonstop. I felt like I couldn’t miss anything. And then… I had a bit of a melt down. (Thankfully I melted down with nice people). I’m going to BlogHer again this year… but I’m going to try harder to take it slow. And possible to plop myself down all alone in my room at some point and just order room service and enjoy the quiet. It definitely would have benefited me if I had done that last year.

  142. There is nothing worse than anxiety. Not that I am saying anything that you don’t already know….just putting it out there that I know the feeling and it is straight up paralyzing at times.

    Conferences…..are these for bloggers? If so, I didn’t even know they existed.

  143. I read this post the day after I returned from a conference. I went to the meetings I needed to go to, but avoided the parties. I don’t have anxiety, I am just not one of those social butterflies who can work a room of people I don’t know. I do better in smaller groups, or with people I actually know. I did one of those Myers-Briggs tests years ago and got confirmation I am an introvert. I make an effort, (especially since I’ve had kids, both of whom are very outgoing) but after 4 days of meetings, parties were just too much. I ordered room service and went over my meeting notes.

  144. I want an 8 X 10 glossy of you in the tiara, autographed. Name your price.

  145. Well, I’m glad that I got to see you even for one tiny little moment at Mom 2.0. You’re still one of my favoritest people. Also, Karen looks JUSTLIKE her mom in those pictures. All gorgeous, of course!

  146. Beautiful. You are just beautiful, funny, and clever. You are beautifully funny and clever. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I read your posts. I smile and laugh and forget why it had made my day so bad. Thank you.

  147. I am so in love with that photo. I have several photos of you from your panel and they are nowhere near as nice as that one right there in the red wig. I totally get you on one friend and one conversation making it all worth it (my conversation with Karen on the flight over made the whole thing worth it for me) but I will say that you were just a bit missed because I kept looking for you and asking about you the first two days and I wasn’t the only one. But I’m glad you enjoyed your time. You made me laugh sooooooo hard.

  148. I LOVE your post!!!! I am a now a NEW follower. I hope to meet you in person one day. I love meeting and talking with people who are open and honest with who they are. I suffer from social anxiety too, but I have been forced to put myself out there all my life. I have managed to make it work, but I can’t say it makes me happy. Over the years I have learned two things – “I don’t care what people think of me. I am who I am and that is all that I am” Love Popeye!!!! and Second “Time is too precious to spend it doing something I hate”. I love the way you spent the conference, you were true to yourself. If a stranger were to describe me they would say I am a social butterfly, but that is actually very far from the truth. I search a crowd of people – talking and investigating to find that person or people I connect with. I am more of a one on one type of friend, I have a hard time really connecting if it is a large group. I would have loved your photo shoot adventure – HOW MUCH FUN!!!! I look forward to reading more and feeling at home 🙂 Thank you!

  149. Great pics! Funny how great things turn out when you have no expectations.

  150. I love the pictures and your outlook on conferences! I am much more of a one on one person than I am a crowd person. Speaking in front of people gives me nightmares!

    Keep up the good work!

  151. I used to feel like in order to get my money’s worth on conferences I had to attend everything. Then I realized that these conferences are always in amazing places that I’ve always wanted to travel to, and why in the hell was I shelling out money to travel to a hotel ballroom?

    You go girl, make your conferences what you want them to be. They’re vacations with benefits.

  152. It took a long time for me to finally come across someone who explained to me that people like me, who are introverted, recharge when they’re alone. And people who are extroverts recharge when they’re with people.

    Of course, introverts, unless they’re total agoraphobes, can do the people thing but it wears the shit out of them and only when they get to be in an intimate setting, do they get their groove back. While extroverts go bat shit crazy if they aren’t plugged into a digital or real life conversation with another person.

    That’s cool how you’re comfortable with yourself and you can be ok with not doing what you’re “supposed?” to do at a conference. If you didn’t, I imagine you might get worn down and get crabby just begging for some me time. I know I do.

  153. So, I went to this conference for work once in Snowmass Village, CO, in July. Everyone teased me about going to a ski resort in July, but God, it was beautiful there. I had some wicked altitude sickness, though, which manifested itself in headaches and nausea anytime I sat in a closed room for too long, so I spent huge amounts of time outside, wandering around the village and out in the mountain meadows. There was a ballet company there, conducting a summer school for prospective company members, and they had their classes out in open-air tents with bleachers around them, and I could go and sit on the bleachers and watch the dancers and take pictures of them. It was fantastic.

  154. I just wanted to thank you for being so upfront and honest and not guilty about your anxiety. I also have social anxiety (to a lesser extent) and depression, and it’s great to see role models like yourself accepting who they are with grace. Also, these pictures are amazing. I love reading your blog. 🙂

    That’s all!

  155. I feel the same way at conferences and it’s refreshing to see someone talk about it so publicly. It seems like the time with your friends was worth going . Priceless times.

  156. A) Yay you, for figuring out it’s okay to just hang out with you for a while.

    B) All the pics are great, but that one big one of Karen in the upper right corner is GORGEOUS, and I still love her necklaces and am plotting how to steal the one she was wearing at EBWW and replacing it with a necklace I made out of macaroni and yarn.

  157. It’s going to be okay is my mantra. It’s amazing how that phrase can fix anything. And I mean anything.

  158. “It’s okay to look at a conference like a buffet…” Brilliant! I have only been to one conference. Have just signed up for my first BlogHer and the anxiety is just starting to kick in, should be in full force by the time August kicks around. Thanks for this perfect post:)

  159. Sooo

    I totally spent hours in my room yesterday trying to talk myself into going outside and only succeeding in poorly curling my hair, crying, and hyperventilating. So thank you so much for writing about this, and for always writing about life in such an honest manner, because hearing someone else say it makes me feel less alone. And slightly less crazy.

    🙂 and the wigs are mega cute.

  160. You’re not supposed to eat everything on a buffet?!?
    This explains so much of my life. Well, the buffet related bits. And why so many of my restraining orders are from caterers. I always learn something when I read your blog.

  161. “Okay. We’re all three going to my room to have some wine and do…”

    I thought this was about to go into an altogether different direction.

    What? I’m a guy. We have a one track mind!

    Still… looked like y’all were having fun w/ the wigs & cigs. *s*

  162. Arrrgh. I am about the same way, though I’ve never been to any of those conferences.

    I will talk your leg off via online (blogs, chat, FB/Twitter) but man.. once it’s in person it’s like “um, hello… how do I talk to you without making myself look like a fool?” Or something of that nature. I eff up job interviews because my words freeze up. Or, how do I approach someone to talk to them? About what? I don’t know. 🙁

  163. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since high school. a few months ago I started haveing full fledge panic attacks while driving. I couldn’t drive anywhere where weeks, and I’m just now getting back to “normal”. For a while there I really doubted that it would ever really be OK again. Reading your posts about anxiety and depression help so much. It feels so good knowing someone else out there understands. That and Xanax.

  164. YOU WERE IN NEW ORLEANS AND DIDN’T CALL ME!??! I’m hella upset now. I’d have made a sign with sharpies. I’m a graphic designer & could’ve given you a drawing of James Garfield. I’m upset now 🙁

  165. Good for you! It looks like the photo shoot was a lot of fun, which you could not have experienced if you were in a packed room networking with strangers. Glad you gave yourself permission to just be you and be okay with that.

  166. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing this blogpost. Right now I’m sitting in the courtyard outside of my room at a conference in NYC, feeling like crap because all of my friends are jealous that I am up here, and I really don’t want to be. I love the learning that’s happening, but NY gives me complete anxiety attacks, and the thought of making the trek from Harlem down to anywhere on the subway sounds miserable. So I’m sitting around reading, and watching TV in “the best city in the world”. And I remembered you wrote this post, and just came back and re-read it, and feel so much better now, knowing im not the only one who feels this way.

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