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20Something Blogger Summit

You may have noticed a new badge to the right side of the blog here; this upcoming weekend, August 19 – 21, I will be attending the 20Something Blogger Summit here in Chicago.

This is not only my first 20Something Blogger adventure, this is my first blog summit of any stripe. Via connections on the Twitterverse, I’ve been aware of various summits and conferences in the past, but this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to pluck myself from the fringes and dive in.

Honestly, I’m beyond excited. I feel like a kid on the eve of the first day of kindergarten. My pencils are sharpened, my outfits are planned, my blog business cards have been ordered, and I’m ready to make new friends.

Signing up for this conference was a measured act of self-confidence. First, as we know, I’m on the very tail end of being 20Something. Second, signing up for this conference means that I’m publicly declaring myself to be a “Real Blogger.”

While the conference’s location made signing up an easy decision (no need for airfare or hotel), I stumbled a bit in seeing myself as the ideal attendee. Do I have the readership to call myself a blogger? Have I been at it long enough? I mean, I ordered blog business cards – who do I think I am?

I’m just a girl with a blog. I’ve always loved to write and having a blog gives me a reason to do so often and a platform by which to share it. I’m not looking to change the world, sell a product, or get a book deal.

(Yet, at least.)

I’m just a girl with a blog. This weekend, I’m going to a summit where I’ll be learning new tools, trying out new ideas, and meeting new people. I’ll be handing out cards with my blog address (“Hi. I have a blog. I think you should read it – you might like it.”) and hopefully receiving cards in return.

I’m a girl with a blog. I’m no longer a girl afraid to blog. After this weekend, I hope to be a girl unafraid to call herself a blogger.

An Open Letter

Dear Person Who Found my Blog by Googling “I’m Dorky and I Want to Stop,”

First, congratulations on having one of the most-unique search terms ever to show up in my site statistics. Most people Google sends my way are looking for those damn Anthropologie Cork Balls.

But back to you. Who exactly is calling you dorky? If it’s someone else, rest assured that their opinion doesn’t matter. If it’s you, you need to knock it off. 

Your search probably led you to this post wherein I vow to never again describe myself as a dork for having unique interests. I’ll no longer apologize for being who I am, and I’d encourage you to do the same.

Now, you’ll notice that some people in the comments to that post argued that being a “dork” is not necessarily a bad thing. For the sake of argument, however, we’ll assume that you think it is, as you were looking to stop being it. Joking about being a “dork” is only funny when you have the self confidence to know that it makes you more, not less, interesting and is a part of your personality you should never look to shed.

Are other people fueling this self-doubt? Other people’s opinions of you just don’t matter. Trust me on this. The sooner you fully accept that, the happier I believe you will be.

I don’t know you, obviously, but I imagine you as a Junior High-aged girl unsure of herself and her place among her peers. Basically, me circa 1995. Junior High can be incredibly hard. I’ve been there. I know how it feels to think no one knows how you feel. I remember the frustration at being told to ignore the cruel remarks of my classmates. The very suggestion sounds like something that could only be issued from the mouth of an adult who’d completely lost touch with how overwhelming it is to be thirteen.

But I remember. I remember that being told not to worry about what people thought was like being told not to breathe. Other people’s opinions were omnipresent. I’d sit in dressing rooms in the mall and cry because I was unsure if the clothes I was selecting were “right.” I sat through math class one day unable to take notes because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by getting up to use the pencil sharpener. I wanted – more than anything – to be completely invisible.

Slowly – and over the course of many years – I realized that the only opinions that mattered were my own and those of the people who loved me. The most clear manifestation of this epiphany is that now I’m able to dance in public.

By no means am I implying that I’m now the perfect role model for high self-esteem. I have my hang-ups. The thing that’s changed is my reaction to these hang ups. Now that I’m better able to weed out the noise of other people’s opinions, I feel more empowered to change the things that I don’t like about myself and ignore the things that other people don’t like. In short, I’m so much happier.

As for the name-callers, I don’t have any witty retorts for you because honestly, the greatest comeback is to move forward and be the best possible you – to find hobbies and people who truly interest you and to let go of anyone or anything that holds you down. Are you rolling your eyes at me? That’s fine. I know how eye-rolling that comment sounds. Plus, I was a champion eye-roller back in the day.

Surround yourself with people who love you for being a “dork” and would never see such a label as a bad thing. Try your best to ignore the haters and never let yourself sink to their level. And finally, don’t ever, ever, change yourself for someone else.

A Broader Focus

I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while but was afraid to jump in – what would I write about? Would anyone read it? How would I even start?

Armed with the idea that my blog had to have a central theme, I chose to write about my quest to be a happier person. Happiness seems to be on many people’s mind’s lately – from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project to Britain’s newest endeavor to produce a national happiness index. People are opening up to the idea that mentality matters more than money.

However – ironically – trying to write about happiness was becoming a deterrent to happiness itself. It’s not the topic – it was the feeling that I couldn’t write about anything else. Two months in and my “theme” had become a brick wall. Forcing myself to write to stay on topic made me lose the most important piece of this blog: my voice.

Problem easily solved: The “theme” of this blog is no longer “me being happy” – it’s about how I’m “happy being me.”

More on that here.

I still plan on writing about happiness as I’m very committed to living the happiest life possible. However, I’ll no longer let that limit me. I’m more than one singular quest. There’s more going on in my life – more I want to write about, more I want to share. This blog is my wee corner of the internet, so I get to “decorate” it accordingly. Less rigidity, more Helena.

The “Perfect” Blog

Yesterday, I was so frustrated that I almost cancelled my plans to meet a friend for cupcakes.

To be specific, I was frustrated with this blog.

Blogging – and all it entails – is new to me. I’m still testing out all the different formatting options available through WordPress and various add-on packages. As you may notice today, we have a new background and color scheme. Anyone who visited the site yesterday likely saw something change (font, size, color) every time the screen refreshed.

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Welcome, Welcome!

Hi. Welcome to “Bye Bye, Bitters” – my little blog.

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