In describing my experience of the Big Hearted Business conference yesterday, I mentioned experiencing anxiety.
I know that many people -- particularly creative types -- can feel overwhelmed at big events. There were five hundred attendees at the conference. There was a lot of information presented and some serious logistics to be overcome in the beautiful old ballroom, especially when it came to getting oneself fed or finding a bathroom.
There was also the reality that most of us were taking a big step in attending. For a lot of us (me included) this was one of the first time we were investing in our creative dreams in a public way. Every time someone asked me, "So what do you do?" or "What's your thing?" I stumbled and stuttered through my explanation of what my blog is all about.
I noticed that most people that I asked were similarly apologetic for their "thing". Even though we'd sat through hours of hearing how is was totally cool to work in a call centre but secretly cultivate a life as a singer songwriter or become a lawyer whose real passion is screen printing. All day, we were taking baby steps towards owning our dreams. And it was exhausting.
But, for me, the greatest anxiety came from taking my eight week old baby with me to the event.
I'd booked my ticket when I was heavily pregnant (on my phone, en route to my daughter's fifth birthday party, as it happened). I had no idea how what life would be like by the time the conference rolled around. But I knew I had to make it work, somehow.
There was no way I was missing Danielle LaPorte!
As the weekend of the conference loomed closer, my anxieties started to amp up. Sure, my baby was a placid little fellow for the most part. But I hadn't asked anyone's permission to take him. What if he started squawking through the presentations? What if my attempts to settle him proved distracting and annoying for people attending?
I knew everyone had worked so hard to pull the event together and I also knew that people had paid good money and taken time out from important commitments to attend. I could totally understand if they were less than thrilled to see a tiny baby hove into view.
I had my husband on standby all weekend, bless him. There was no way I was going down in history as The Dickhead who Derailed Danielle LaPorte during her one and only Australian appearance.
I was on a state of constant standby too. He's sleeping now. But what if he wakes up in ten minutes? What if he fills his nappy? What if I can't settle him? What if? What if? What if?
The irony that I was in danger of missing an almost perfect present because of an imagined diabolical future was not lost on me. It took me the whole two days to sink into this and open up to what was happening.
My baby was a dream, sleeping most of the day and grizzling only slightly in the late afternoon. He fed quietly and was happy to be cuddled by other people while I got organised (i.e. did up my clothes!). He even bestowed a couple of his megawatt smiles on one or two lucky gals.
The volunteers at the event were absolutely incredible. They were warm and encouraging and so very helpful. The minute I stepped into the foyer, someone would ask me if I needed anything. Whenever I breastfed, someone would bring me a glass of water, offer me their pashmina to keep warm, make sure I didn't miss out on lunch... all without being asked.
Other attendees came up and congratulated me, cooed over my cute little lad, cheered me on for coming. Every time I stood up to settle him, someone made a point of meeting my eyes and smiling.
I was completely humbled by the show of love and support, over and over again.
And Danielle LaPorte?
She thanked me for bringing him. And asked if she could sniff his head.