If you know Oprah like I do, you know she loves nothing more than a good “ah-ha” moment. I had one when I moderated the blogging panel on Friday and it was so damn good I think even Miss O herself would be proud.
You might be wondering: can Ashten actually relate everything back to Oprah?
The answer is: abso-fucking-lutely.
To say I was nervous about this panel would be an understatement. Even after all the encouragement I received from my friends and this blogging community, I still woke up at 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning with an anxiety not even my morning cup of coffee and some Jay-Z could cure. Something about taking the stage next to women with so much style and experience had my stomach in knots. How would I measure up to them? Would I be irrelevant? Would I be invisible? Would I be able to speak on their level of expertise?
But mostly? I was intimidated. These women were living my dream: they took their blogs and turned them into their career. I felt like I should be sitting in the audience learning from them, not facilitating a discussion with them.
My nerves were only heightened when I met the girls face to face: they whipped out those coveted DSLR cameras, taking photos and walking in heels I probably couldn’t even stand in with ease. I stood there holding a coffee I had almost spilled on the white shirt I bought at H&M on sale for $7 in awe. Again, I wondered if I would ever be on their level, if I would be able to hold a candle to them during our discussion.
We all sat together before our panel began and, because I was so nervous, I pulled out all the questions I had prepared and started scribbling notes. Completely isolated in my thoughts, I began to compare myself to them. The more I compared, the more I began to doubt myself. The more I doubted myself, the more I isolated myself, trying to get on their level before we went on.
The blogger comparison trap? IS ALIVE AND REAL AND LIVING IN MY OVER-ANALYTICAL HEAD.
Suddenly, there was a gentle tap on my arm. It was one of the girls and as she smiled at me she said, “so we’re all going over to the bar to get some wine to calm our nerves. Do you want to come with us? You have to be as nervous as we are, right? Look at all the people here!”
It had never occurred to me that they might be nervous too. It never occurred to me that this might be just as intimidating for them as it was for me, or that they were battling the same insecurities I was.
We were the same: women who were stepping out from behind our computers to speak about our passion. Women with insecurities, women who hustle, women who work hard to make their dreams come true and want to help others succeed.
It was empowering. Ah ha!
I learned a lot from them that day: how to create photo backdrops for cheap, and new ways to connect with your audience on social media. I have a lot of respect for fashion bloggers, who put their personal style out into the world for others to see. They taught me it's not about pretty clothes: fashion is their creative outlet, like writing is for me, and I have an incredible amount of respect for their talents.They encouraged me to keep blogging and promised to teach me how to use a DSLR camera, when I finally bought one. They were real, relatable and damn did they know how to accessorize! From something scary, came some new friendships and an experience I won't soon forget.
And in case you were wondering: the panel was a huge hit.