My BritmumsLive2013 experience…Part 1

I’m home from what has been an absolute whirlwind of an event; BritmumsLive 2013.

On Friday, Little Mr and I travelled down to Central London to attend the two day blogging conference, BritmumsLive at The Brewery. I was really nervous as I’ve only ever been to a handful of events and with this event being the biggest so far, I was really doubting myself. With Little Mr as my wingman, I knew that I’d be okay. If no-one spoke to me at least I’d have him or I could slope back off to my room at the hotel next door.

brewery

After quickly checking in to the hotel (and spotting Emma, Amanda, Pippa and Blog of a Mom who were all checking in to the same hotel) and getting changed into my outfit I bravely stepped outside and joined the queue to get in. I was greeted with smiles from fellow bloggers that I recognised and was introduced to many smiling faces, which of course I can’t remember apart from Annie Mammasauras and Alice who probably didn’t realise that they instantly made me feel like I was meant to be there, thanks ladies! I saw other familiar lovely faces such as Bryony and Monika and my anxiety begin to fade until I had to walk in, collect my badge and actually be at the event I had wanted to go to forever, as myself! IMG_4868

I spotted the crowds in The Hub and it scared me. I wasn’t ready to go in and introduce myself. I needed to pluck up the courage so I spotted a sofa in the lounge and sat down. Little Mr needed feeding so I took the chance to settle him and began to people watch. Luckily for me, the lovely Jo spotted me and came over for a catch up. I’d met Jo previously at the Kiddicare event and have enjoyed tweeting her since then so caught my breath and began to relax. I spotted Lauren who came over for a quick chat and then it was time for the main event to kick off. As I took my seat, I was surrounded by familiar faces; Jo, Fi (my lovely Cosatto travel buddy) and Laura sat on the same table as did Kirsty and Clara. Ericka had left me a message on my Facebook and I spotted her in the crowd and waved. Just to point out that I don’t know Laura, Ericka, Kirsty or Clara at all but from reading their blogs and exchanging a few tweets in recent time I felt like they were blogging friends and I felt at ease.

little mr meetstext

So the event kicked off with a keynote from Kirstie Allsopp (off Location, Location, Location fame) and after questions from the floor it was time for the first set of workshops to begin. I didn’t really fancy any of the sessions so took the time to browse the various brands who were in the hub whilst it was relatively quiet. It’s not at all what I was expecting. Although I’m not sure what I was expecting. I felt really awkward introducing myself to each brand and that’s probably down to my lack of experience of meeting brands face to face who want to work with bloggers. I lacked confidence in saying ‘work with me, work with Little Mr, we’re great’ so I didn’t really ‘put myself out there’ which looking back is a bit of a shame.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun and it was soon time to head back upstairs for the BiBs Awards. As I had been in a focus group I lost my familiar faces, so when I walked upstairs I was confronted with a sea of glamorous women all in heels and snazzy dresses. This was daunting. I didn’t like it. There wasn’t an easy way through and so I made my way via the free wine (I don’t drink wine so you must know how scared I was) to the top of the main seating area and just sat down in a quiet corner. Everyone knew each other, they were all hugging and kissing, having photos taken and drinking lots of wine. I felt lost. Luckily I had Little Mr with me who was smiling away, he was my icebreaker as quite a few ladies came up to me to tell me how gorgeous he was and how broody I was making them feel. The BiBs started and first up was the award for Fresh Voice. I recognised a couple of the finalists names but didn’t recognise the winner, Life as a Widower. I began to sob which turned into buckets full of tears . I think the enormity of the day had finally hit me and I was in the middle of an awards ceremony crying my eyes out without an easy escape route. I was offered tissues and wine from lovely ladies on the next table but I couldn’t stop crying. Part of it was because Ben’s story upset me and the other part was because I felt alone. I didn’t know anyone. I was sat in a massive hall where friendships were being formed and re-kindled, and I felt alien to it. I looked around and I knew no-one. It took me back to being at school, I wasn’t one of the cool kids and neither wanted to be but I felt really isolated. I felt like no-one wanted to be in my company or spend some time with me and Little Mr getting to know us. I deliberately didn’t make dinner plans as I didn’t know what time hubby would realistically make it down to London. I didn’t want to commit to going to dinner (although I did have offers) as I knew Little Mr would have been shattered and needing his bed. It wouldn’t have been fair to drag an over exhausted baby across London just so I could eat. What a mistake that was? I ended up walking to the nearest supermarket alone to grab a pasta salad and a tube of Pringles.

little mr bed

The tears didn’t stop there. Once hubby had fallen asleep I lay awake trying to take in the days activities. My mind was buzzing, I wanted to put faces to twitter handles and check peoples blogs for conversation starters just in case I bumped into them again. I checked twitter for any tweets, Facebook for any messages and my phone for texts, there were none. I had tried to make contact with a couple of people but I guess they were already busy eating dinner and drinking without their babies in tow. To be fair I could have joined a couple of meet ups but I felt stupid, I felt like I was forcing myself upon them. I’d come all the way to London to mix with all these lovely faces I’ve called friends on Twitter, Facebook and in the bloggersphere and no-one bothered. Now if I’d have been a roomy with someone other than my husband or hadn’t of taken Little Mr with me, it might have been a completely different evening. Who knows! I sobbed into my pillow and promised myself that instead of making an idiot out of myself and my sponsor I needed to (wo)man up and make the most of the next day. I was there to be me. I was there to learn about myself and to better my blog. I was there to enjoy myself!

Day 2 of my BritmumsLive experience took guts. I was flying solo without Little Mr (Hubby and Son were having a boys day out in London) I had to be me, I had to bravely introduce myself and attend the sessions I wanted to go to. I had felt so isolated during the previous evening I needed to push myself out there so I skipped the hotel breakfast and walked into the Hub.

To be continued…

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39 comments

  1. Erica Price says:

    Oh no I hope day 2 was better. I didn’t get to speak to you,but I think we were sat at the same table during one session. It was difficult when everyone was drinking the wine and it was so busy to find anyone that you knew. I wandered round for a bit before I found people I knew.
    Erica Price recently posted…Week 25 Project 52My Profile

  2. AtoZ Mummy says:

    This post really struck a chord with me so I had to comment. You are so brave to write about how you felt and I totally understand how overwhelming it must have been. I find large gatherings like that really difficult sometimes if I don’t have anyone with me and it makes me go inside myself. I really am looming forward to reading about Day 2 and I hope that all the tears were in vain and that you had a wonderful day. Also I don’t know about you but since having babies I cry soooooo much more!! Xxx

  3. sarah pellew says:

    Oh gosh I feel for you! I felt exactly like this last year! Its such an awful feeling isnt it? I really hope day 2 was better and I will be waiting wkth baited breath to read and find out. I wish I had seen you and chatted. People whl read my post about it last yeR said they thojght K looked confident and halpy but I side I was a mess!! I will make sure I read your next post … hope ylu are ok. X

  4. Blog of a Mom says:

    Awww hun thanks for writing this so honestly. I had a moment on the first day where I was on my own and knew no one and couldn’t get talking to people and I had to leave the room because I was starting to cry!

    Luckily I collected myself and I found the second day much easier, I think I got the hang of just chatting to people more.

    I think what was had was that it felt very much like a few people had their friends and didn’t want to chat to new people and I too didn’t want to feel like I was tagging along. When people are on conversations its so hard to join in too. Luckily there were some really lovely people there too who would get chatting.

    Next year even though I’ll know more people I really want to make sure I keep a look out for people on their own and introduce myself because I don’t want others to feel how I did at some point.

    Was lovely to meet you hun x
    Blog of a Mom recently posted…The Kind Of Mum I Want To BeMy Profile

  5. Fi says:

    Hey lovely face! Oh I’m sooo sad to hear you were upset! Why didn’t you come find me (I was mooching around from group to group and soooo would’ve been your other wingman!)

    Thank you for my Olly cuddles – when he snuggled me my heart exploded! He’s so happy, chilled and gorgeous!

    I think you oozed confidence to be honest, so reading this I’m sad you were so worried and upset.

    Hope you had a great time despite the worries xx

  6. Jacinta Zechariah says:

    Lovely post. I felt exactly the same way on Friday. Didn’t know anyone except a few bloggers whom I had met at an event where we were part of a panel. I actually ran away early on Friday because I felt like I was encroaching. Whenever I felt alone, I went to a brand because they were ready to talk and we would have a chat.
    Saturday was a bit better I think.
    Jacinta Zechariah recently posted…To my daughter on her 2nd birthdayMy Profile

  7. Katie @mummydaddyme says:

    Oh bless you lovely, it is incredibly daunting going to these events as a fairly new blogger. I hope that your Saturday experience was a little better. And don’t worry about sobbing, I sobbed like a baby most of the weekend! ;)

    It was nice to meet you very briefly, I am sorry we didn’t get longer to chat. xx
    Katie @mummydaddyme recently posted…What They Don’t Tell You…My Profile

  8. Mammasaurus says:

    Oh you lovely thing, sorry to hear you felt like that on the Friday – if it helps I too headed to bed early from the bar for a cry at how overwhelming I felt Friday, and this will sound odd I know was for totally the opposite reason, and email my husband to say I wanted to come home.
    Saturday morning I gave myself a good talking to too and went on to have a great day xx

    Look forward to part 2, I must write mine down today whilst it’s still fresh in my mind x
    Mammasaurus recently posted…a big thank you xMy Profile

  9. Cakesphotoslife (Angie) says:

    i’m crying with you, that daunting feeling is awful as for twitter and facebook well I always feel I’m talking to myself..lol.. keep being you and people will love you for you and I havent met many either but That Alice I have and she is lovely, as is mummy and Annie I’m still to meet. sending you big hugs xxx
    Cakesphotoslife (Angie) recently posted…Sitrep 1 (an email from my Dad)My Profile

  10. Mari says:

    I remember checking you in Mrs Shilts!

    I understand your tears being set off by Life as a Widower, in fact he touched every heart in the room and there were lots of tears in the house.

    I’m so sorry to hear you were upset and I hope it didn’t colour your view of the conference, we did have the butterflies there for that reason but it’s very difficult to tell who’#s feeling lonely if they don’t come forward.

    I really hope day 2 was better xx
    Mari recently posted…Singing along with Kidz Bopz on the LeapPad #smartphonevideoMy Profile

  11. Mummygadgetgeek says:

    I was lucky to be attending with a friend but I agree, the evening was a bit isolating and we didn’t manage to find anyone to hook up with for dinner either which was a bit disappointing. We would have loved to meet up with you!

    Perhaps next year they could hand out ‘I’m up for dinner’ hats or something…? hehe.

    Hope you had a great day two though – will pop back and check your next post :)
    Mummygadgetgeek recently posted…A whole new world – Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt top tipsMy Profile

  12. Michelle says:

    I read this with sadness, as I know, that deep inside, had I not managed to buddy up with someone just days before the event, I would have been feeling exactly like you. I walk around constantly with fear of judgement against me (something I really need to work on) and I know, had I gone by myself I would have quietly sat somewhere on my own and hoping someone might take pity and want to talk to me. That too would have taken me back to my school days…

    It was extremely overwhelming, I’m just collating my thoughts for my BML days 1 and 2 posts, and your honesty about how you felt is refreshing.

    There were so many faces there, so much to take in, and if there is a next time, wave at me or say hello, I’m always happy to meet new people and strike a friendship. xx
    Michelle recently posted…Let It Be [Project 365:2013 - Day 174]My Profile

  13. Leanne Edwards says:

    Hello lovely. I too found Friday hard and lonely. And like you Saturday took some struggle to get up and face again! It’s was wry overwhelming knowing no one in a sea of faces xxxx hugs xxxx

    • mrsshilts says:

      Hi Leanne, thanks for the comment. It’s difficult isn’t it after feeling so rubbish from the first day to go back and face it all over again. Hope you managed to enjoy yourself and if you go next year we’ll have to have a drink or two x

  14. Karen Marquick says:

    This is exactly why I would never attend such am event. I’m shy and lack confidence in large groups and I know I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. I am happier just keeping my distance and reading about it. Some things can’t be forced.

    However, I do hope the second day was better for you.

    Xx
    Karen Marquick recently posted…The Real Cost of HomelessMy Profile

    • mrsshilts says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for your comment. It’s true somethings can’t be forced but I’m so glad I went back for Day 2. It was a really good giggle. Perhaps try the smaller meet ups if you fancy seeing what they’re like? There’s one in Manchester soon I believe x

  15. Helloitsgemma says:

    Think you’ve sumed up how difficult it can be. I think one of the big issues, which is wholly understandable, is that many people meet only at this event. They get caught up with the people they met last year and don’t notice someone on their own. I think Britmums does takes some bravery and am glad you felt brave enough to come back on day 2. Just hope it was better. X

    • mrsshilts says:

      Hi Gemma, thanks for your comment. I did find it really difficult and I’d have been incredibly annoyed at myself to have missed all the fun of day 2. Will be a completely different story next year, I hope x

  16. Sara-Jayne says:

    Oh no! I wish I had met you! I only knew three people and felt incredibly alone ~ I even said hello to a few people who looked the other way! It was so hard. I was in the same hotel too…we could have hung out. It was awful to find out other people had dinner plans already made, I felt like an intrusion :( Next year! Next year I’ll say hello!
    Sara-Jayne recently posted…Friendship…Making the Time (Zone) for Coffee…My Profile

    • mrsshilts says:

      Hi Sara-Jayne, thanks so much for the comment. I can’t believe the amount of people who have also said they were feeling really alone. If we’d have all got together I’m sure we would of had a blast! It’s hard to admit that we’re lonely though isn’t it? It’s easy on my blog but I wish I could be more upfront in person x

  17. Becky says:

    Sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t great on the first day :-( This is what makes me nervous about going next year, and I class myself as a fairly confident soul! This isn’t the first post i’ve read today about people feeling the same as you at BM, which is a shame. I think maybe some people cling to the groups the ‘know’ or have arranged to meet up with on Twitter/through blogs, because they are nervous of being alone themselves, and therefore perhaps without meaning to, aren’t aware of others alone around them. As I told you when I met you on Wednesday, I’m a fairly new blogger, and everyone on twitter etc seems to already be in little groups- I feel like i’m intruding if I comment or join in. It’s hard. If I do go to BM next year and feeling lonely, I may stick my hand up and hold a ‘waifs and strays’ (including myself in this!) party and we can all head back to my gaff in SE London for a knees up! I always hate the thought of anyone feeling uncomfortable and left out. Hoping part 2 of your story has a more positive outcome for you x
    Becky recently posted…Toddler Meal Planner – Week 2My Profile

    • mrsshilts says:

      Thanks Becky, I’m up for a waifs and strays party sounds like great fun! I really hope I’ve not worried you about attending next year, this year since having my Little Mr I’ve really struggled with my anxiety and self confidence. Seems it buggered off with the sleep I once knew! Hope to see you and your gorgeous little one again soon x

    • mrsshilts says:

      Thanks Mich, I’m definitely using the experience as one to be learnt from! Funny how these events are so socially massive but actually you learn so much more about yourself! x

  18. Alison Rothwell says:

    Heya – I’m really hoping day 2 was lots better. Thank you for being really honest and posting what you really felt. I think it’s really tough to go to such a big event and know noone – you should be proud that you made it there in the first place :)

    • mrsshilts says:

      Hi Alison, thanks for the comment. It was, day 2 was so much better for me. Honesty is the best policy, right? x

    • mrsshilts says:

      Pippa, you’ll slot right in! You know everyone already. I’ve bought my ticket too so it’ll be fab to see you again x

  19. Nadine Hill, Juggle Mum says:

    Hello Mrs Shilts!
    I found your post via the BritMums linky.

    If it is any consolation, upon reading your post, it reminded me of myself last year! This was my 2012 experience: http://jugglemum.com/2012/06/britmums-live-am-i-being-a-crybaby/

    But this year however- a different kettle of fish! I had a great weekend and am still on a high now!

    I suppose I’m saying, don’t let it put you off next year! I hope we get to meet next year…maybe have a glass of wine together… I’m sure your experience will be completely different next time
    x
    Nadine Hill, Juggle Mum recently posted…An Impressive Dessert: My Slimming World Chocolate Orange FlanMy Profile

    • mrsshilts says:

      Thanks Nadine, how similar were our experiences? I never expected to be so overwhelmed by it and really couldn’t stop the tears but I’m determined next year is going to be so so different!

  20. sarahhillwheeler says:

    Thanks for this post. It struck a chord with me. I got a lot out of the event, but felt overwhelmed too, and being solo felt that everyone knew everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but at times it felt like I was trying really hard not to feel/look left out (it was a bit like extreme networking!!).

    I spent Friday evening trying to sort out our conveyancing nightmare, on my mobile phone, then grabbing a curry on my own in Wagamamas! Irony was it looks like I was staying in the same hotel as you…and took an identical photo of the bed, minus the cute baby.

    I look forward to reading your Part II and hope that whatever your misgivings, you got a lot out of the event.
    sarahhillwheeler recently posted…CF Week, our month in TootingMy Profile

    • mrsshilts says:

      Thank you for the reply Sarah, I really appreciate it. Funny how so many other ladies have come forward saying they were overwhelmed too. I really hope when I go next year I can reach out to newbies and make them feel welcome x

  21. Coombemill says:

    You are so brave to say all this and I do understand exactly how you felt. I have had times like this in the past. I was totally alone at Brit Mums too, everyone was so friendly and I probably looked like one of the many hugging and chatting, but I too had moments of shyness threaten to overtake. Inner confidence is something which I have only begun to gain in my 40s. I wish I had spotted you having a shy moment. Hoping day two was a different story.
    Coombemill recently posted…Enjoy the Countryside in style with Outdoor SceneMy Profile

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