Thoughts on Blogshop

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


The last several days have been a bit of a blur and while I'm still processing the weekend, I wanted to share some thoughts while they're still fresh. Early Friday morning I left St. Louis to travel by train to Chicago for Blogshop (a two-day Photoshop workshop for bloggers). You might remember one of my resolutions for 2014 was to take more classes. So this was a perfect opportunity for me to brush up on some of my creative skills.
The workshop was held in a bright and airy loft in Chicago's West Loop. Filled with colorful and vintage touches throughout, at first I felt so energized by the surroundings and new people. Here I was in a city I loved, heart open, feeling thankful that I had such an amazing opportunity. I wanted to make the most of it. Plus I was going home with a jumbo confetti balloon. My hopes were high indeed. The first day started out slow, covering basic things like layers, sizing, keyboard shortcuts, cropping and color bar. All useful tools, but much of what I was already familiar with. After lunch the pace accelerated and we were able to cover several new (to me) concepts. But by the end of the first day I was mentally and socially exhausted.
The second day was a lot of the same, only I felt different. First, I was bothered by how one of the instructors (both well-known and successful creative women) condescendingly answered one of my questions. Boo! The interns, on the other hand, were very kind and thoughtful in their response to all my future questions. Add to that my dismay at seeing the "professional" photographs that were taken the first day. Sadly I was expected to use these photographs for many of the tasks on the second day; but I couldn't understand how the images had come out so poorly from someone who was supposedly a pro. With each passing hour I felt my anxiety level rise and my shoulders tighten. By the end of the workshop I was tailspinning into a full-on mental disconnect, trying desperately to process the gulf between the cost of the conference and what I felt I gained from it. In the end, if I had the chance to do it over again, I would have made the smaller investment and taken the course virtually.

Perhaps the best part of the entire weekend was staying with my friend from graduate school and her fiancé at their lovely second-floor flat. As soon as I left the sea of Mac computers I felt liberated. Free to connect with people that I genuinely cared about. One night we walked through the bitter cold to enjoy a hearty meal in an Irish pub. Another night my hosts made a delicious dish of chicken curry, served over a blend of wild grains. Comfortable in their company, we chatted about life and goals, books and weddings. And it was only then that I felt the pressure lift and my heart lighten.

With strangers it becomes so easy to compare. To feel the pressure to have the best blog, or create the snappiest mood board, or to wear the most fashionable outfit. Anything to separate yourself from the others. This past weekend worlds collided and I realized that I feel at my best when I'm with friends. More genuine and authentic. Which might, after all, be more valuable than any keyboard shortcut.

All images by me. 

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