Expectations, Disappointment, and Gaining Perspective

by Ginger on June 1, 2011

in Becoming Myself, Blogging & Social Media

Now that a few days have passed, I can finally sit down and mull over my trip to New York. I’m kind of glad I had a chance to wait to think about it before writing about it because had I written about it last week when I got back, my post probably would have boiled down to:

“WAH. Poor me!”

I know, eloquent right?

In case that doesn’t give it away, I was pretty disappointed by my trip. Just as a recap, I went to New York for Book Expo America (BEA), the annual book-gasm for the publishing industry. For me, BEA is WORK. I do physical labor getting the booth together and then I stand on my feet for three days answering questions about our books, talking to publicists, fielding proposals for marketing opportunities and generally being ON. While I was there, Blog World Expo New York (BWENY) was happening, so I managed to finagle a pass to that conference in a dual professional/personal role–I had a few sessions I wanted to see for day job reasons, and a few sessions I wanted to see for RambleRamble reasons. In addition to those two things, I had high hopes for 1)meeting some bloggers and publishing professionals I’ve been talking with, 2)networking with new bloggers at BWENY  and 3)meeting up with old friends & coworkers.

Maybe you guys can see the problem already, but it didn’t hit me until the trip was over, and I was utterly disappointed and demoralized. Which is:

I was trying to do too much, be too many places at once, and inhabit too many of my worlds all at the same time.

The most successful part of my trip was BEA. Which, duh, had to be. Seeing as how it’s my day job and all that. I did pretty much rock BEA–the booth looked awesome, I got tons of kudos on the work I did to make the show successful, I came away with a lot of good contacts and ideas for our upcoming books. In general, it was good.

The rest, though, was…not as successful. BWENY ended up being a pretty major bust. I was able to attend 5 sessions and two keynotes. And whether it’s because I chose poorly or because I really am crazy well-read in the medium (I find that hard to believe, but maybe) many of the sessions didn’t offer much to me in either my personal or professional goals. That being said, I also know that a big part of why I felt BWENY didn’t work for me is because I felt so torn every time I went to a session. Because BEA was going on at the same time, and I felt like I needed to try and be in two places at once. I didn’t feel like I could stay around after sessions to network, because I had to get back to the booth. I didn’t feel like I could truly enjoy a session because the entire time I was there, my brain was bouncing around “how does this work for work?” “how does this work for RambleRamble?” “Can this be used here? or here?” Which are good questions to ask, but it meant I had a little session ADD–I couldn’t focus on just ONE way that something could be successful, I was trying to think of ALL the ways it could be successful. So I ended up feeling like I wasn’t understanding how anything could work for ANY of my worlds.

The other problem, for me, with BWENY was how much it highlighted something that I maybe didn’t want to admit: I don’t have what it takes to make it to the big time of blogging. Now, Blog World is a conference filled with pros from all walks of the online world: business bloggers and tech bloggers and podcasters and vloggers and every genre imaginable (and where I am guessing that parenting and personal bloggers are a smaller percentage of attendees than at some other conferences), so in some ways it’s silly to compare myself to, you know, the person running Coke’s Facebook page. So, you know, perspective has come to me after a few days at home. But the reality still exists, at least in my current situation. I can’t pretend I didn’t hold out a little hope that I might be, if not the next Dooce (because, come on), at least successful enough to call this more than a hobby. I’m still coming to terms with what THAT revelation means.

And then there was the people part. Of the 10 people I had plans to meet with, I met…one. And she was fabulous, wonderful, a real joy (and I can’t wait until the next time we get to visit in person again!). But I still hold the disappointment of NOT meeting those other 9. Add that to the fact that my conference ADD meant I didn’t network with anyone at BWENY and I felt a little “poor me.” I mean, I was missing my family, and stuck with coworkers, and I didn’t even get to hang out with all the cool people I wanted to. And, I’ll be honest, given my state of mind over the blogging thing, I couldn’t help but go down the “people don’t like me and I’m just kidding myself thinking otherwise” rabbit hole.

See, I told you. “WAH. Poor me!”

Luckily, like I said, I had a few days of thinking between my trip and now. And like I said above, I realized that I was trying to do too much, be too many places, to be successful at it all. I basically set myself up for failure. Of course something had to give. Of course I wasn’t going to be able to get the full value out of BWENY–I had a j.o.b. to do at BEA. Of course work had to come first. Of course that meant that I was going to be torn. Of course. And honestly, given all that, of course I wasn’t able to meet up with everyone I wanted to. And it doesn’t mean that people don’t like me, but that…things happen. My schedule got screwy, their schedules got screwy, I scheduled too much, they scheduled too much (oh and the consistent issues with cell service, wi-fi and Twitter didn’t help matters). It HAPPENS.

Perspective, what a good thing to have, right?

I’m still disappointed in my trip, but I’m more disappointed now that I set such crazy unrealistic expectations for what I was going to accomplish with the trip. I let myself think that this trip was going to be BIG BIG BIG, which meant when it was…good, but not great…that became a bad trip. And that’s not to say that expectations are bad things to have, they’re not. But for me, at least, there needs to be some tempering of those expectations with a little bit of common sense and reality. Otherwise, I clearly lose all perspective.

Brooke June 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I’m sure you’re glad to be home. NYC can be an energy suck, even without all that going on!

I’m curious what it was about the blogging conference that made you realize you wouldn’t be a big time blogger?

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Well, clearly my timeliness of responding to comments isn’t at issue. 😉

In general, I think it came down to two things: I’m not a natural born networker, and I don’t have the time. I mean, I make a LOT of time, but for the level that a lot of other bloggers get to, it takes a time that I just don’t have working a 40 hour week, with a 10 hr per week commute, a toddler and helping to run my husband’s business. Oh, and two blogs. I think you either need to have a singlemindedness (I don’t), a lot of time (I don’t), a lot of connections (I don’t), or the ability to MAKE a lot of connections (I’m…doubtful). Or the ability to work 90% and play 10%, and I’m just not sure I have that in me.

That said, after even more time, I think I’ve swung back to a middle ground–I can continue to grow my blog, and it’s ok if I never reach hundreds of thousands of people. There are varying levels of success, so I just need to work to an achievable goal, given my particular set of circumstances.

Anne June 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I wonder if we ran into each other at some point last week – I was at BWENY too. 🙂 I took advantage of one of the lunch breaks to walk around the floor of BEA and WOW – that was a lot to take in! I guess because I’m not in publishing I was just kind of wandering around in awe.

I really loved the sessions that I went to at BWENY. I’ve definitely had the “post conference blues” before – where I felt like everyone else had a great time and I didn’t. I was there for work, so I did mostly the business summit sessions, which were really awesome for my work purposes.

I do wish I had gotten to network more. Since I was the only one there from my office I felt like I was frantically taking notes and trying to remember everything and learn everything. Plus, I was staying with my best friend out in Jersey, so I was commuting, which is exhausting. But I always feel like I wish I had met and talked to more people at conferences. Maybe I need to be more outgoing? I don’t know. I think you nailed it – everyone gets so busy at these things, trying to do everything at once.

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Who knows, we could have been sitting right next to each other!

I think my ultimate problem was a lack of focus while I was there, which really led to feeling fractured. And the lack of networking really really bummed me out. But with a little time and space, I’ve been able to revise my statement a little to “It wasn’t as good as it could have been.”

Oh, and BEA is that overwhelming to everyone, even those of us who work there every year. It’s a pretty massive undertaking!

clara June 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Aw man, that sucks. Yes, perspective is good and knowing is half the battle and hindsight is 20/20 but…BUT…I know what you mean about expectations.

Wishing you some chill time.

(Shit, my magic wand is broken.)

Hannah June 2, 2011 at 1:49 am

Do you think some of the disappoint came with a realization/reality check about your blogging goals? If I had received similar news, I think it might have cast a distinct disappointing note over the whole trip, in addition to the over-scheduling. It’s good to hear you’re not letting it overwhelm you. Way to rally, I’m impressed!

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Oh, it absolutely had some effect, clearly! But I think the biggest thing, actually, was disappointment in not meeting a bunch of people–those scheduling things happened in large part before the conferences, so I think that really got me in a funk. And then the rest just piled on.

Which means, at least, that my upset was more fueled by wishing I was with people than wishing I was more business savvy!

Nicole Rivera June 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

PREACH, SISTER, PREACH!!!

I LOVE this post right now!!!

I went to BWENY also. It was my first-ever blog conference, so I went in not knowing what to expect. The sessions were hit or miss. I tried to go to the sessions that were more blog-related than business-relatd, but would often feel pangs of regret when I heard more cheers, laughter, music, or some other excitement from a room nearby. Being new to all of this I COMPLETELY missed the mark on the offline networking potential – since none of my blogging buddies attended, I went in with the attitude: learn and absorb what you can from everywhere, but I didn’t do much communicating with others!!

Lesson learned. Face time with other bloggers is exactly what these conferences are about (all conferences I have ever attended before as a teacher, or just personally, was just about learning and absorbing info).

On a personal note, this was also my first endeavor on my own ANYWHERE while on my medical leave, so I didn’t trust my health and was very guarded throughout the exhausting event.

The BEA add-on was awesome, though (I LOVE BOOKS) and HEAVY by the end of the day (I love all my ARCs)!

I did learn a lot through the whole experience:
~little things about blogging,
~like you, I am also realizing my place in the blogisphere (or, in fact, how enormous it really is!),
~I understand the true power of network even in the virtual world (for some reason I thought those real-life rules didn’t apply here),
and
~this is just the beginning… it’s the perfect time to be confused, overwhelmed and making mistakes! 🙂

Wish I would have *met* you earlier, I would have swung by your BEA booth! Perhaps next year!! For now, you’ll have to deal with me in the SITSgirls31DBBB summer challenge – we are groupies! (No worries, I promise all comments won’t be so verbose!).

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I think some of my frustration with the sessions had to do with the dual purposes I was trying to accomplish. I should have just gone to one type–blogging OR business–and not tried to do both. And man, I’m kicking myself for not MAKING the time to network more. I’m not entirely sure WHEN I would have done that though!

Oh, and BEA? Is the worst for creating heavy bags to carry! But the best for free books!

New York Cliche June 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

Aw, sorry your trip to NYC was less than great. I’ve barely been to a conference, but the few I’ve peeked in on seemed entirely overwhelming- your post confirms this! Great point on expectations, sometimes it feels a bit sad to do it, but I generally find I have more enjoyable experiences when I keep them low!

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

It was definitely overwhelming! I should have known better to go in with…if not LOW expectations, then at least slightly more reasonable ones!

Elizabeth June 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

It sounds like it was a jumbled, stressful week, and I’m sure being home is just the balm you needed. I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet as many bloggers as you would have liked–that’s such a fun thing in itself, but it can be overwhelming too. The blogging events I’ve been to were such whirlwinds; they were worth attending, but after, phew… I don’t think I could tell you ten of the people there without the cards they handed out.

Anyway, *this* (rarely posts anymore anyway) blogger would like to catch up with you however briefly in person when you’re in the area. That can be two bloggers in a summer! And hey, Eric used to blog, so that’s like 2 1/3 bloggers, no? 😉

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Our own little blogger summit 🙂

Cloud June 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Blogging is a weird thing, isn’t it? It is a hobby for me, but the fact that some people make it more than that is alluring, even though realistically, I’d have to get to Dooce-like stardom before I could hope to replace my income from my “real” job. Still, there are so many things I want to do with my blog and I see potential to take it in fun/interesting directions…. but I have a full time job, and two kids, and a house to take care of. So there is stress there. I can imagine it would be even more if I went to a conference with a lot of people who have way more time than I do to spend on blogging. Which is one reason why I’m on the fence about going to BlogHer this year, even though it is right here in my home town.

Speaking of which… if you ever make it down to San Diego and want to have drinks and call in networking- let me know!

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm

It’s so funny, because I never started my blog with any intent other than “need a place for MY thoughts”. But it’s intriguing to think of building it up. I don’t think I’d ever be able to make it full time (although there’s always that chance), but I do get these moments of slightly more grandiose dreams. I think I just need to learn to balance that with reality a bit more.

Oh, and we absolutely should have drinks sometime. It’s not that far from me (we come down fairly often anyway for the zoo or for art), and I’ll drive if it means good company and decent drinks 🙂

Kim June 4, 2011 at 6:54 am

For what it’s worth, I love your blog. In fact, I just redesigned mine & added an About Me page that’s a borderline carbon copy of your About Me & New Here pages. I’ve found that as crappy as we think we are, there’s always someone looking up to us & being inspired by us.

Keep on keeping on!

–Kim

Ginger June 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Awwww, thank you! Now I’m all blush-y!

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