There are few things more demoralizing than feeling alone in a crowd of 2,400 people.
2,400 people who are supposed to be like minded people.
2,400 people who are SO EXCITED TO SEE… everyone else.
2,400 people who are specifically here to meet new people, make new friends, and hug on strangers.
And yet, there you are. Standing in a hotel lobby trying to pretend like you have somewhere to be because the shame of being completely alone at that exact moment is almost more than you can bear. After a couple of attempts to find a place to be, you make your way to the elevators and scurry to your room under the guise of needing to retrieve something.
And your husband sees the look on your face and asks, “are you OK?”
And you lose it. Bawling. Sobbing. Completely humiliated to be feeling so childish and overwhelmed by your own insecurities.
You finish your cry, splash cold water on your face, straighten your badge, and head back down into the crowd. You wonder why everyone else seems so carefree, so above these stupid feelings of obscurity and insignificance.
Someone recognizes you and says hello. You recognize someone else and say hello. You find yourself in a crowd of two or three people and silently pray that you’ll have a few moments of feeling like you belong before someone they know walks by and the safety of this tiny group evaporates.
And then you find yourself in tiny groups that last for hours. Amazing women you admire are in no hurry to rush off to say hi to someone else. One of them confesses to crying earlier over something that made you cry, something you were too embarrassed to admit to crying over. Another one thanks you for talking about your marital problems, and you hug her harder when she admits that her ending wasn’t the same as yours. You gather together around your shared vulnerabilities and mutual admiration, at once grateful for their weaknesses and in awe of their strengths.
And you are grateful, mostly, because in these groups of 2 or 4 people, you are no longer alone.
To those of you who made sure I was not alone this weekend, thank you. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart – thank you.