For a few years I never really saw myself as fitting in at Alt--I thought you had to be a major player in the game so-to-speak to really be a part of these kind of conferences. But one year we just happened to be going to Salt Lake City at the same time Alt was happening and I took a leap of faith and bought a ticket.
I was really nervous. It took me a day or two before I realized, Wait a second... I belong here. Perhaps this is just me, but I tend to downplay my own accomplishments or talents while also placing everyone elses accomplishments and talents on a pedestal. In terms of actual life I don't feel this way--I don't ever think of another human who is famous, rich, beautiful, talented or otherwise as better than me. But in terms of being a blogger, an artist, a maker, a writer it is so easy for me pull out my mental Success-o-meter and feel like I'm not as good as someone else. I'm getting better at this though.
Regardless, going to a conference like this is putting yourself out there. And sometimes when we put ourselves out there we feel insecure, and those insecurities can invite a host of negativity that can mess with your mind. So for anyone going to Alt, or participating in a similar type conference or event where you are putting yourself out there here are a few tips to help keep things in perspective and help you have an overall better experience.
I feel the most insecure about things when I haven't done my homework or done anything to prepare. Sometimes it's a simple mental inventory, sometimes it's an itemized checklist, sometimes it's a single goal, sometimes it's a specific connection. Whatever it is, go into your event with a little preparation + at least 1 goal and you will definitely feel more at ease.
Just say Hi!
Even though I'm naturally pretty outgoing it can still be super intimidating to strike up a conversation with people you don't know. But just do it. Say Hi--introduce yourself and ask them what they do. I can't tell you how many great people I've met at Alt from striking up a conversation while standing in line, or just sitting at a table full of people I don't know, or even when I felt compelled to walk across the room to meet someone who looked interesting. If it's someone who's work you admire, tell them. If it's someone you want to get to know, get to know them. I mean, don't be a creeper OK? You know, boundaries... but if nothing else, just say Hi and introduce yourself.
Remember: No One is Thinking About You
My first time at Alt, I spent the better part of the first day feeling completely out of my element and I was sure other people were thinking the same thing. Um, no they weren't. No one was thinking about me. Even though I no longer feel insecure at Alt, I still get nervous. There are a lot of people who I follow and admire online and suddenly I'm face to face with them--it can be intimidating. Keep in mind that there is more of an even playing field than we sometimes think--someone who is a "big deal" to me, is completely unknown to someone else. We're all a big deal to someone (especially our loved ones) and total nobodys to other people. In the end, no one is sizing me up, assessing my value and worrying about me as much as me.
Instead of worrying about what others think of you or if your outfit is on point, send that energy outward and focus on being generous and kind to others. If you do that, you'll automatically feel better about yourself regardless of what else is going on. Also, you never know who you're talking to at Alt. You might meet someone who is a nervous first timer and doesn't know anyone and really will benefit from a kind word. Or you also might meet someone who you don't recognize or know but they actually have a wildly successful blog, or product line or whatever or perhaps they're a great contact for you in some way... call it the law of attraction or karma, but being generous and kind will get you everywhere.
There is enough opportunity, enough creativity, enough platforms, enough swag (ha!), enough time, enough, enough, enough for everyone. In all honesty this is one of my favorite things about the Alt community is how truly open and giving people are with their time, experience and information. It has always felt like a place where women (and some men!) are trying to achieve their goals and pull other women up with them in the process. So really, think in terms of abundance. If you don't land the contact/opportunity/partnership you want, there will always be more. There is enough.
Any other tips from other Alt Alums or similar conferences? I'm super excited for the week ahead, especially excited for my first time in Palm Springs! If you have any must-do's in Palm Springs for me, I'm all ears!