In March of 2014 my friends and I walked into DoubleTree hotel in Dallas,TX and headed for the HopeSpoken registration line. It took me 30 seconds to begin thinking things like, “We’ve made a mistake. Everyone here is so…TOGETHER. How do they all know each other?”
But less than an hour later we were feeling better and a year later we went back. It’s the law that when you go to a conference you have to blog about it, so here are some things I’ve thought about since the conference last month.
People are people, regardless of their online following.
It is embarrassing the number of times I asked people at HopeSpoken what their Instagram name was, only to then search and find out they had 50,000+ followers.[Oh…THAT’S why everyone here seems to know you. My bad.]
It was nice though, not knowing anything about anyone. Getting to know them without ever having seen their online life. You should know, they are just like you and me. They have insecurities. They get nervous before they speak in front of people. They probably even worry about screwing up their children.
Online we see 30 seconds of people’s beautiful lives- and they DO have beautiful lives. They are genuine and kind people, but they are also humans dealing with life and the good and bad that comes with that.
Make your own group.
The small groups at the conference are really great. You get to know people you wouldn’t otherwise, and process some of the things that are being taught (shout-out to Emily Anderson, small group leader 2014 and Stephanie Holden, 2015).
On the last night of the conference people are given the chance to go to a special group that is geared toward their current stage of life. It turns out to be a really great support time for people.
Both years I have fallen into one group: singles. The first year I went to that group, I quickly realized that, while it was a great group, it was not for me. I lament my singleness much less these days, so I don’t necessarily view that as my “group”. So after a little while, I texted a friend to call me so I could leave gracefully.[I always get phone calls at 10:30 PM, guys. Duh. This escape plan is not obvious at all.]
It was not graceful. My then-new-friend Katie cornered me in the hall the next day. She was all, “I know what you DID. I feel you, gur”. This year Katie and I decided to skip that group time, and in looking for a place to sit, we happened upon a group of women. They were sitting in the bar, drinking wine, and we thought, “THESE ARE OUR PEOPLE”. So we joined them.
We made our own group. We didn’t try to force ourselves into a group that may not have been what we needed. Where we may have even taken away from the good conversation they were able to have.
We hung out with our new friends until after midnight. Had we been afraid to join them, we would have missed out on some really great conversation, and what become one my favorite parts of the conference. Make your own group. Seriously. Find your people. Even the ones that are terrifyingly put together, sitting in the bar.
There are so many other things, but this is getting wordy, so I’m cutting it off. I’m not even gonna attempt to write about all the amazing things from Jen Hatmaker, because it would take forever. She did an amazing job speaking on Friday night. As did Stephanie Holden, Lynsey Kramer, Joy Prouty and Ruth Simons throughout the weekend (lots of other speakers, but these are the ones I got to hear).
So grateful to Casey, Danielle, and Emily for putting this thing together each year and doing it so well. Ima be stalking instagram next year trying to get a last minute ticket, so hopefully I’ll see everyone there!