Alone in a Crowd.

Monday, August 9th, 2010

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.

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  1. Nancy says:

    If I was there, you wouldn’t have been alone in that lobby.

    See you next year. Prepare to be smooshed.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Nancy, oh sure I would have! I mean, you couldn’t have been by my side every minute of every day. Who could?

      BUT – I would have totally loved on you some more.

  2. muskrat says:

    I turn to the bottle in such scenarios. It lifts me up on wings like eagles’.

  3. Poppy says:

    I felt slightly guilty for getting quite so much time with you even though I wasn’t at the actual conference, but I’m not giving it back. In fact, I’m stealing more this coming weekend. :)

    I don’t think I could have this exact feeling here because I live here so even if I didn’t have a place to be at the conference itself I feel at home no matter where I am (except Bergdorf Goodman, hahahaha. ha. haaa. ha. hm.) but I can see myself having this exact experience if I were to go to San Diego next summer.

    That hug with the blogger whose ending wasn’t like yours made me choke up a bit. Whoever that is, I hope she’s ok now.

  4. Really? I was so excited to see you — didn’t notice anything amiss when we talked!

  5. avitable says:

    I’m going to basically copy the sentiment of my comment that I left on Amalah’s site:

    Whenever I read about confident people like you, who I consider to be so amazing and funny and personable and brilliant, experiencing those moments, it always makes me wonder if TV and movie celebrities also have that type of self-doubt at times. I think you guys are like the rock stars of the blogging world, and while I’m glad you found the company in small groups, I’m always sad to hear when you feel as bad as you did.

  6. Cecily says:

    Lady, we only hung for a few minutes, and I feel blessed I had those. :) I felt so drained so much of the time I’m not sure that I was good company (particularly when I saw you pre-Red Bull that one morning!).
    :)

  7. NO WAY! YOU felt alone? Sweetie, I didn’t know! You seem so outgoing, I never dreamed you would feel that way. I only felt out of place once…and it was YUKKY. I am so sorry you felt that way.

    I had the BEST time partying it up with you on the dance floor and elsewhere. Must loves you!

    signed:
    the HOT Friend. ;oD

  8. Superjules says:

    Yep. You nailed it.

    I had a great time, it was nice to meet you! <3

  9. And you see, you were one of the people I was looking for all weekend and never found. I’d made a list to remind myself of all the women I read who I wanted to meet, but I kept getting lost in the sea of women, and the list kept getting lost in my giant bag full of silly swag. I wish I had been there beside you when you had that sad, alone moment, and I am glad there were women there to fold you into their arms. Thank you for sharing yet again, so honestly.

  10. Which goes to show that really everyone feels exactly the same way because I would never have expected you to feel like this. If anything, I would have been intimidated to come over and say hi, assuming that when you were alone it was because you needed a moment of peace and quiet. ;-)

    On a side note, I did at one point totally go chat someone up because she looked lonely, and she totally was just going for that “moment of peace and quiet” thing. Ha. Go figure.

    So glad you did find those moments of connection!

  11. The Tutugirl says:

    I felt that way last year. It’s completely overwhelming.

  12. Laura says:

    Because of this post I may just be brave enough to go next year.

  13. Peter Mayhew says:

    Hey I kept looking for you! Wanted to gab for a bit.

  14. Thank you for hugging me and pulling me into your happy little dance circle.

  15. IzzyMom says:

    Girl, I could never imagine you feeling that way. NEVER. But you know what, thanks to an unhealthy dose of 2400 OTHER women’s hormones, my period came early and I was up in my room on Saturday night sobbing over feeling the exact same way. Alone in a crowd, my head pounding and feeling stupid and alone and abandoned. Not being able to reach my friends via phone, twitter or smoke signals, they were all partying and having a ball, which just made it worse. I wish I’d had it in me to splash water on my face and do what you did.

  16. Mandi Bone says:

    You pulled me away from standing against the wall when I felt very small and very alone to dance on the stage. It was one of my favorite moments EVER.

  17. Lisa says:

    I know that feeling and it sucks hard. Honestly it’s what keeps me from going to events like BlogHer. I’m glad you were able to move past it!

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Lisa, I have to admit, you’re probably more likely to feel it at BlogHer than anywhere else. At least, that’s been my experience. I don’t know why that is.

  18. Sam says:

    I think being near a crowd of people you admire has to be hard sometimes; it’s easy to let it take you back to your teenage years, when you saw a group of people you wanted to know and just didn’t know how to break in.

  19. Darla says:

    If I would have been there, you totally would have been my go-to-girl.

  20. yknot says:

    Did you read my post? we sound alike! I didn’t cry, but then again, I spent a lot of time at the bar
    & the only person that talked to me was the barkeep! Thank God for @schmutzie, @palinode & esp. @thecaffeinatrix for coming to Rescue me!!!

    I was Thrilled to meet you & Jared, but I didn’t try to make a lot of small talk with you,thinking that there’s a Thin line between meeting someone & stalking them! I didn’t come to creep anyone out, you or me! I just wanted to meet some of the folks I follow on Twitter.Now occasionally, I respond to something you said & you misunderstand me. It happens. I was hoping to have a chat, if the situation presented itself, but it never did. I hjope to meet you guy some other time & I’ll buy you a drink & maybe chit-chat.

  21. Finn says:

    But you went back downstairs anyway. And you made it work. Go you.

  22. corrin says:

    I know you’re a hot commodity, but we need to do dinner the next time we’re in the same city. Would love to not shout at you.

  23. theewens says:

    It’s a good thing you had your husband with you or I would have totally spooned with you instead of @morningsidemom and @corinafiore.

  24. Cass says:

    This may just be me, but I like to think that all of us had that moment where you’re just you and in this big space and you just don’t know what the hell you’re doing there….and then you find your people. God I love this blogging business.

  25. Carrie says:

    i don’t think i got a chance to meet you there, but i had a couple of those same paralyzing moments during lunch and the community keynote on friday, both of which i ended up sitting alone for. but by the end of saturday i found myself inviting total strangers to sit with me for meals and having about 11 people squeezed in at a 5 person table at the sparklecorn party and i left feeling more popular and self confident than i ever have in my entire life before.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Carrie, I don’t think I will ever get to the point of inviting total strangers to sit with me. Maybe, but ooooh boy that’d take a lot of growth on my part. Good for you!

  26. Glamamom says:

    I’m so bummed I wasn’t in one of those groups! I was totally feeling overwhelmed at first too but gradually got into it. Glad you had such a good experience!

  27. Well sister, it’s what you do in those moments that show you what kind of person you are. I think those of us who are outgoing shock the pants off of most people when they find out we have weak moments too. Good for you for overcoming your moment.

    (hugs)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Lesley @Avalea, “I think those of us who are outgoing shock the pants off of most people when they find out we have weak moments too.”

      YES! Which is so funny to me, because I’m like – dude, watch me. I NEVER talk to anyone first.

      OK, almost never. I totally accosted the Pioneer Woman in the lobby.

  28. jonniker says:

    Hello, I think you’re delightful and adorable, THE END.

    I’m so glad I met you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @jonniker, I don’t know how to say this, but I was surprised at how freaking charming you were. I mean, I expect you to be funny and smart – but holy CRAP were you charming as well.

  29. You know how much better i felt after you admitted this to me? I still can’t quite shake that feeling though. Hoping it hasn’t ruined me for future BlogHers.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Amie aka MammaLoves, NO! Because next time we will just walk around holding hands the entire time. And that won’t be awkward for anyone at all!

  30. Miss Grace says:

    It was absolutely lovely hanging out with you.

  31. Jill says:

    I just started reading you before BlogHer and seriously kick myself that I didn’t come up and introduce myself…

    This was my first BlogHer and I was so worried about not knowing anyone (which I didn’t when I got to NYC – from CA). I shed a few tears myself over my own concerns about going, though in the end I’m glad I did. The weekend was great – and I left knowing a few people a little more than I did when I arrived.

    There’s something for everyone if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. Next year I’ll make sure I do even more… I hope.

  32. anymommy says:

    Wish I had been in one of those small groups, getting to know you, for a little while. I had a few heart in my shoes moments too, walking the lobby, wandering the gala. What is it about being in a crowd alone that makes you lose sight of yourself?

  33. [...] overwhelmed by a crowd. I admire the courage and strength it must take to approach the crowd when you feel alone, and I don't think I would be able to do anything except hide in my hotel room if I had [...]

  34. I so very much completely get this.

    I wish we all had “mood” badges on our lanyards to broadcast when we were feeling lonely or unsure or in need of…what? a hug? Integration?

    I don’t know. But still a mood badge. And then when it flashed “blue” we’d know to go up to each other and offer some love.

    Like I said, I get this.

  35. You sure as hell know how to put on a different face when inside you’re insecurities are creeping up. You are the absolute last person I would have ever imagined to feel that way. But, I understand all too well… hence, I stayed in and relaxed on Friday night and slept in on Saturday until 10. The art auction/gala was just too much to bear; it wasn’t my thing and I just kind of uh, well, was lost. Sure I had Kim and a few others but I didn’t want to follow them like a lost puppy; so I just relaxed upstairs in the room after waiting 52 minutes each way for a damn elevator.

    Either way; just know you absolutely were NOT alone this weekend. I was in the same boat this year; and last year too.

    Hugs! And, I’m so glad you brought Jared, so funny! He and I had a few laughs about you two growing up in Iowa and me growing up in Wisconsin.

    Wish I would have had a chance to talk to you more; but low and behold, the wall built up around me and I tucked back into my shell. Maybe next year; although I’m truly not sure if I’ll be able to do it again.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Krystle @snarkykisses, actually, I don’t at ALL know how to put on a different face. If you had bumped into me when I was feeling this way, you’d have known immediately.

      It’s just that when I’m NOT feeling this way, I’m NOT. And I’m loud and laugh and people would never guess that I was crying in my hotel room 30 minutes ago.

  36. homemom3 says:

    I wasn’t at BlogHer this year, nor the years before. I’ve always been slightly too far away and normally with babies, this year we had just moved. However, I feel that had I been there there would’ve been moments like the one you talk about. I wonder if not every person feels this way the first time they go. I mean none of us really know each other unless we’ve met before. it sounds like there was a sea of women there, people get lost in the shuffle but sounds like after a quick splash people were spotting you. I’m happy to read you were in several groups of other faces that may have had this very thought but didn’t want to admit it or publish it. You were brave to publish it.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @homemom3, this wasn’t even my first time! And I talked to a lot of women who felt it more than once. I think the bigger the crowd gets, the more likely this is to happen.

  37. Zandria says:

    I’m the same way. If I’m walking around with someone I know, I’m fine. But I don’t like being by myself in a crowd of people. It’s difficult for me to walk up and start a conversation with someone I don’t know.

    I met you at BlogHer…I was walking around with Liz Rizzo. You didn’t seem nervous at all, but then again, I probably didn’t either! :)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Zandria, LOVE LIZ! And yes, I remember meeting you. I probably never seemed nervous when you saw me because I’ve known Liz in the online sense forEVER.

      • Zandria says:

        @Miss Britt, I always feel comfortable when I’m walking around with Liz because she’s SUCH a people person. She has no problem at all walking into a room by herself because she’ll walk right up to a stranger and introduce herself. I’m not like that, but when I’m with her I end up meeting a bunch of new people, too! So that’s pretty cool. :)

        (In other words, there’s a good reason why she’s been my BlogHer roommate for the past three years!)

  38. I get it… except, unlike you, I might very well have stayed in my room. Just ask Barry. You have a spirit and inner fire that lights the world and you TEACH with every syllable you write. xo!

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Sharon – Mom Generations, I cannot imagine you EVER hiding in your room. Ever.

      Did I mention how glad I was to see you and your family this weekend? *sigh* Like oxygen.

  39. Oh I’ve so been there with the loneliness in a crowd. Wish I could have been there this year. Loved this post.

  40. Marinka says:

    I totally relate. It makes me think of that story about Marilyn Monroe, when she was asked how she could possibly be lonely and she said “you know how you can be in a room and feel all alone? I have a whole house full of those rooms.”

  41. Faiqa says:

    This post is reason # 546,214 why I will love you forever.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Faiqa, heh. Whenever you say stuff like that I always want to say “OOOh! TELL ME MORE!”

      Although, I do have to say that loving me for being an insecure mess in a crowd is a little… um… strange.

      • Faiqa says:

        @Miss Britt, I think it’s the fact that you *are* popular, and yet your sense of compassion/empathy prohibits you from scratching your head and saying, “What do you mean it’s cliquey, I don’t see that, at all, this is such a loving community…” That last sentiment smacks of self centeredness to me, and in this case (haha) you don’t exhibit that, at all.

        It’s my opinion that this is one of the fundamental elements of a graceful personality. People assume “graceful” just means not tripping over your feet and knowing what to say and when, but actually it’s not tripping over your own ego and being able to look someone in the eye and being genuine with them AND recognizing that in some way they are your superior.

        I know you’re approaching this from the paradigm of personal insecurity, but, Britt, I think it’s your humility that makes you this way, and maybe it just feels like insecurity? It can be hard to distinguish, at least, for me.

        Now. Does *that* make sense, now?

  42. rachael says:

    I am the world’s shyest person. Ask people who know me, they’ll tell you there is no possible way that I am shy. It somehow makes it worse that it doesn’t show. I’m glad you got back out there.

  43. Momo Fali says:

    If not for you, I would have never walked into that crowd. THAT crowd. You know the one. I loved being with you because you are such a joy.

  44. It’s good to know that this happens to others, though I am sorry it happened to you. You totally described my second day at BlogHer last year. I am so glad you rallied and enjoyed yourself afterall.

  45. Raven says:

    Well, I think you did FABULOUSLY when I met you at the Style Lush Happy Hour, for having had a bad time of it, and I most assuredly wanted to meet you. :)

    I cried at my first BlogHer too, I think it’s like a right of passage.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Raven, how pathetic is it that this was my SECOND BlogHer?

      • Raven says:

        @Miss Britt, it’s not, AT ALL! There were an overwhelming amount of people this year and the very design of how things were set up would make it easy for people to feel isolated!

        I know I did, but I had a partner in crime the whole time and not actually being at the conference allowed me to be more removed.

  46. i love that you went back downstairs. only wish i was there to prevent you from ever feeling those overwhelming or alone emotions. hate thinking of you crying.

    whenever i feel alone at a convention i smile, stretch out a hand as i walk up to another single person or a small group and introduce myself. the singles are usually grateful for the save and most groups accept me into the conversation. the way i look at it is that we are at a convention to meet others so what the hell, imma say hi. if you are cold and don’t like me, i’ll move on. if we get along then wahoo, i’m glad i smiled and said hey.

    i’m just so proud of you for going back downstairs. love you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @hello haha narf, I tried to imagine doing that just now… walking up to a group of people who are already talking, and saying “Hi, my name is Britt”.

      I literally shuddered at the idea.

  47. Clair says:

    I had moments like that too, but they were usually interrupted by people stopping to introduce themselves. Thanks for being one of them. It was great to meet you!

  48. donna says:

    Hi Britt, I just wanted to say hi again. I accosted you at Sparklecorn, but I wanted to say again how great it was to meet you!

  49. Jenn says:

    I can’t wade through all of your comments but I can tell you this much: There is no way in hell you’d have felt lonely for a moment if I could’ve been there. No one from the dork bus brigade will ever stand alone in a crowd! Ever! In real life or virtually. I missed you! Love ya tons, my friend!

  50. I truly loved talking with you after the monetizing panel. And I find myself looking back at BlogHer with a mixture of happiness and regret…happiness for the times I happened to find myself in a relatively quiet moment, with nowhere to go, and was able to sit and talk with people for a while and really connect. Mixed with regret for all the times I was maybe not as present as I could have been for somebody, either because I was distracted (crowds and loud talking and LOOK, SHINY!) or nervous, or overwhelmed, or simply having to go to the bathroom and not wanting to say so LOL…

    And then of course there were times I was on the receiving end of somebody else’s fidgetyness but I’m really really trying not to take it personally, because I myself am a fidgeter, and I think we all–well, most of us–did our best.

    But it’s hard, because we all have these insecurities, yk? Thanks for talking about yours.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Uh, just realized my comment on YOUR blog could have come across as “go read my post”. And what I meant was “so I guess I don’t know which I am exactly either”.

  51. I felt exactly the same way last year. This year, I was determined to NOT go through that again. Whenever I felt lonely, I found someone else who looked lonelier than I felt and introduced myself. Strangely enough, it worked for me. I hope I didn’t freak anyone else out, though…

  52. Miss Britt says:

    @muskrat, I can’t figure out if you’re joking or being serious here…

  53. Miss Britt says:

    @Poppy, she seemed OK, but it’s hard to tell, isn’t it?

    Don’t feel guilty. Man, spending all that time with you this weekend helped make me feel like I belonged there, ya know?

  54. Miss Britt says:

    @Susan @WhyMommy, how could anyone feel alone while talking to you?

    The truth is, when I was having conversations with people, I was exactly as fine as I seemed. It was those moments when I suddenly found myself not talking to anyone that I wanted to disappear into the floor.

  55. Miss Britt says:

    @avitable, yay! I got a copied comment from Amalah’s site!

  56. Miss Britt says:

    @Cecily, wow. Drained looks good on you, then!

  57. Miss Britt says:

    @Tina@SendChocolateNow, SO MUCH FUN WITH YOU!

    I *am* outgoing. (Especially on a dance floor.) And when someone I know is around (like you), I’m pretty cool. It’s just those times when the stars align to leave you standing all alone, ya know?

  58. Miss Britt says:

    @Superjules, and you weren’t even a bitch! *eye roll* Thanks for being so understanding of my husband’s… uh… compliments?

  59. Miss Britt says:

    @Varda (SquashedMom), I pretty much am never able to get to all the women on the “list” – there’s a lot of people there!

    Next time. :-)

  60. Miss Britt says:

    @Jessica (aka Kikarose), BlogHer is so not the place for peace and quiet. Heh.

  61. Miss Britt says:

    @The Tutugirl, you’d think I would have been over it since this was my SECOND year.

  62. Miss Britt says:

    @Laura, I absolutely think everyone should do it at least once.

  63. Miss Britt says:

    @Peter Mayhew, I wish we could have gabbed more – even though you used the time you had to TOTALLY BE A SMART ASS! :-P

  64. Miss Britt says:

    @Holly {ArtistMotherTeacher}, you’re welcome. Thank you for introducing yourself to me early on – I would have never recognized you from your old avatars.

  65. Peter Mayhew says:

    @Miss Britt, sorry. I do that with people I feel comfortable with. Sometimes it rubs folks wrong. MY BAD ENTIRELY.

  66. avitable says:

    @Miss Britt, no, you didn’t. It was just a similar sentiment.

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