My nerves mocked me as I attempted to board a plane for Chicago last Thursday. Lugging what seemed like my entire wardrobe through security, I spent 20 minutes with TSA watching as they searched within the depths of my cocktail dresses and media kits.
I weeped inside as they tore through the strategically packed bag wondering what the hell they saw on their screen. After a long battle with my carry-on, I now know my favorite clutch appears as a switch-blade in the airport security scanner. Fabulous.
If anything was going to prepare me for the barrage of new events over the weekend it was that very moment. So, on I went with my switch-blade bag after airport onlookers marveled as I packed my life back into my carry-on.
I was BlogHer bound and not even TSA would change those plans.
A bit weary of what truly laid ahead for my first blog conference I continued to remind my butterfly-filled stomach that all would be well and a year of planning would more than pay off.
The first sight of my roommate and longtime blog friend, Sarah, was all the reassurance those butterflies needed. Able to face our fears together, we entered upon the world's largest social media conference for women.
This year, the BlogHer conference revolved around a general idea of finding your tribe. Immediately, I thought my tribe would be labeled mom blogger; however, the more women I met over the course of three days the more that stereotype I placed upon myself began to dissipate.
Ree Drummond, more commonly known as the Pioneer Woman, reminded us that even the most popular of bloggers are at the very heart of it all just people. We are women. We are storytellers. We are wearing Spanx. And we are filled with more influence than we could ever imagine.
Women squeed at the sight of their favorite bloggers, had ah-ha moments as they sat in on sessions and learned from brands that respect the influence we have as women, as consumers and as bloggers.
My most anxiously-awaited keynote, Sheryl Sandberg, challenged each of us to confront our fears and be unapologetic within our role as women in the 21st century, along with many other things I'll address in coming weeks.
In moments outside of my comfort zone, as I attended an event or meal alone, I found that my tribe was much larger than I'd once imagined.
In my usual blog world, I'm among many mothers. However, in the last several days in addition to mothers I met activists, bakers, creaters, teachers, reviewers. Each woman seeming more fearless than the last. And with each conversation, I felt my tribe expanding.
The entire idea of the power we have as bloggers has never seemed so tangible as when I sat surrounded by bloggers listening to the Voices of the Year presentation. Tears of laughter began as a blogger recounted her nearly blinding attempt to create a budget-friendly wreath. Tears continued to stream down my face as one woman read about her all-too-real fears of being on the firing side of a gun, of living with the knowledge of taking an innocent's life. Another shared her battle to find psychiatric help for her child fighting undeniable depression.
While each blogger I met at the conference hailed from varying niches, one thing remained constant: each began their blogs to tell a story because something told them their story was bigger than themselves.
In committing myself to attending BlogHer 13 way back in Fall of 2012, I knew I'd have to leave my insecurities at the door in order to soak up what this weekend was meant to be, and that's just what I did.
I crossed the paths of thousands of bloggers in the last four days. I learned, I laughed, I felt like a tiny speck on the blogger spectrum and simultaneously empowered.
As women, as storytellers, as bloggers we are a tribe in ourselves creating a movement in society that reaches so much further than our little spaces of the interwebs.
And just as I expected, I have never been more thankful to be a part of this blogging tribe.