Stepping WAY outside of my comfort zone

Thursday, February 23, 2017 Permalink

Last week I shared my reasons for not reading romance novels. I’d actually drafted that post for Valentine’s Day but a work trip (and general apathy) delayed its publication.

It meant just as I was ‘polishing it up’ (yes I know… you couldn’t tell I take the time could you?!) I received word that I’d won a ticket to the Australian Romance Readers’ Convention in Melbourne the next weekend.

comfort zone

Oh irony, thy name is… um, irony.

My thoughts have been mixed. My #5before50 bucket list involves me going to a readers / writers’ event this year. Though obviously romance wouldn’t be my first choice, there’s no multi-day crime fiction equivalent; and large writers’ festivals don’t have the same level of camaraderie as a convention or conference.

But… although I saved $300 by winning the Booktopia sponsored ticket (thanks Booktopia BTW!), I still had to pay for my accommodation, flights, awards dinner and so forth. So… I’m already down $1200 before buses, taxis and (importantly) wine. Which blows my budget for the new few months and delays some essentials. Like pest control and a new computer. 😉

Of course there’s yet another flipside as I haven’t traveled much (at all) in the last few years so flying to Melbourne and staying at a hotel for a couple of days sounds kinda fun.

And on top of that, although romance is the theme of the sessions, some are broadly of interest to lovers of words. Like moi.

However… even though I’m trying to be positive, I’m conscious I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, cos:

I will know no one

I should mention at this point that I’m going alone. I’ve met one of the writers who’ll be there and am excited to meet a couple of others, including Amy Andrews who I’ve been virtual friends with for a while. But that’s the extent of my social circle.

So, I’ll be the one walking into each event alone.

Thankfully that’s not something that worries me too much. I’m more than happy to walk up to a group of strangers and ambush them start chatting. Well, usually.

I won’t fit in – square peg, round hole

However on this occasion… I’m a tad nervous my lack of knowledge about ANYTHING romantic fiction like will be obvious. Or that I’ll be ostracised as a non-romance-fiction appreciator. Or something.

Perhaps it’ll be cliquey and I’ll have no one to sit next to at the awards dinner like an awkward loser-like child in the school lunchroom.

And finally, the age-old dilemma….

I have nothing to wear

I messaged Amy Andrews to ask if the Saturday night Awards Dinner was dressy.

“Yes,” she said.
“Shit!” I said.

She reassured me it wasn’t school-formal dressy. But still…. it means I have to find the ridiculously expensive dress I was pressured into buying (at a styling session) 4yrs ago and have worn once. It’s the sort of dress (and possibly occasion) that would normally require pantyhose, but screw that for a joke.

And I’m intending to only take hand luggage, so I’m gonna need to stick to one or two pairs of shoes, which means limited colours and clothing options. Melbourne’s weather is famously unpredictable so I’d normally have to worry on that front but I doubt I’ll set foot outside of the hotel – other than to scour local 7-11s for Vanilla Diet Coke of course.

Do you often step out of your comfort zone? Have you been to a conference / convention where you know NO ONE?

the-lovin-life-linky I’ve joined Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit and some other bloggers to help promote “ageing positively” and the Lovin’ Life mindset across the interwebz. You can link up via any one of us!

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:


50 Comments
  • Kathy Marris
    February 23, 2017

    It sounds like fun Deb. I have only attended Problogger on my own and found that a bit overwhelming. It’s always a challenge going to these types of events alone, but normally you find someone to chat too who is alone as well. I envy you going to Melbourne to some cooler weather. This hot weather is wearing me down. 🙂

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      I note it’s finally going to get under a maximum of 30C here next week, which is great, but I’m excited about the weather as well. I’ll be at the hotel all of the time (I arrive the afternoon before the convention and leave just before it finishes) so won’t experience too much Melbourne weather, but either way it’ll be nice.

  • jaykkay
    February 23, 2017

    Deb, am also going to the conference Saturday and the awards dinner. I will also know no one except for a couple of writers But I’ve been told they are a friendly bunch of people and I am interested in meeting some of these ladies and finding out what they read and why. I’m an only child so all my life I’ve had to front up to situations knowing no one so I guess I am used to it. Look forward to connecting I shall look out for you

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Oh that’s good – that everyone’s friendly. Definitely find me. I’m there from Friday afternoon (so going to the welcome drinks also) though leaving mid afternoon Sunday to make connecting flights home!

  • Amy @ Handbagmafia
    February 23, 2017

    It sounds like fun- a good chance for a getaway and to make new friends. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  • Kate W
    February 23, 2017

    Melbourne’s weather is famously unpredictable HOWEVER our fashion choices, less so – black, black and black! (which makes packing light very easy because everything co-ordinates!).

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Ha yes! I’m bringing black shoes and at least one black outfit…. I used to only wear black but since my seachange I’ve adopted colour. (It was the first thing a former colleague said to me when I saw her a couple of years ago… “Oh my god, you’re not in black!”)

  • Ingrid Ingrid
    February 23, 2017

    Being an introvert I would find it so stressful not knowing anyone and walking into a room full of strangers. I envy your ability to start chatting with people in that situation! Enjoy your trip!

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      I’m usually fine with that sort of thing, but think it’s a bit harder when there’s a dinner or something when you have to sit in a spot for a period of time – worried you’ll be gatecrashing some other group etc…

  • pamela007
    February 23, 2017

    Enjoy the weekend Deb

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Thanks Pam. I’ll be reporting in on my Sunday Post this week.

  • Jo
    February 23, 2017

    THe first romance writers conference I went to, I knew no one. I’m also fairly shy & not great at the networking thing- tend to suspect I’m actually quite boring & everyone else is no much more interesting. Having said that, love Melbourne! Have a great weekend.

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      The welcome drinks are followed by a trivia evening, which I haven’t booked into. (The drinks were $68 so I figured that was enough!) I decided I’d have a drink with anyone else around or head up to my room for an earlyish night (and alone-time) before everything kicks off on Saturday. Because of the whole daylight saving thing flying in Saturday morning wasn’t an option for me.

  • Jan Wild
    February 23, 2017

    It sounds like it is all coming together so just enjoy it. If you do find yourself outside be aware that weather in Melbourne this week has vacillated between 16 and 33 degrees.

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Yes, I saw the weather on my phone. Other than popping out of the hotel for vanilla diet coke (and maybe some wine) I suspect I’ll be inside the whole time. I did note it’s warmer on the Sunday so might wear my summer dress for the trip home.

  • amymedicalauthor
    February 23, 2017

    I’m currently on the runaway waiting to take off for Melbourne. Can’t wait to meet you.
    You can always sit with me at dinner

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Yay! Very happy to Amy!

      I’ve got a 2hr stopover in Brissy tomorrow. I wish it was afternoon so I could have ducked away to my fave Chinese restaurant while waiting. And suspect 8am is too early for a drink! 😉

  • Johanna
    February 23, 2017

    I’ve been to a Romance Writers’ convention in Perth on my own and the women were all so friendly and lovely. I don’t think you’ll have any worries. Plus there were a whole range of different outfits from the wildly outrageous pinks and purples to pearls and twin sets and jeans. I loved it – diverse, energetic, inspirational and fun. Have THE BEST time and come back inspired 🙂 #teamlovinlife

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      Ah yes… I’m really only worried about my awards dinner outfit in case everyone else is really dressed up. I suspect there’ll be a bit of everything!

  • Kathryn
    February 23, 2017

    All the best , hope you love it. I envy you seeing Love Between the Covers, something I wanted to see but given up on now!

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      I just saw something the other day re the documentary Kathryn – that it’s available online somewhere. If I remember where I’ll let you know.

  • writeofthemiddle
    February 23, 2017

    I’m sure you’ll have a great time at the Convention Deb! I’m jealous of your trip to Melbourne. I haven’t been there since 2012 and I’d love to go back again. Do you know Rita Azar? She used to have a blog called The Crafty Expat. She lives in Melbourne and is involved with the Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild (MRWG). It’s highly likely she’ll be going. She’s on FB if you know her and want to check (Rita H. Azar). #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      February 23, 2017

      I went to Problogger in Melbourne in late 2012 so was last there then as well. I don’t think I’ve flown anywhere (other than my December NZ trip) since then!

  • @kanga_rue
    February 23, 2017

    I hope you have a blast! Look forward to the post convention update, and hopefully a rewards dinner outfit reveal

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      Have had to have a last minute change re dinner outfit. The dress I was planning to wear just doesn’t fit properly. It never really did and I’ve only worn it once years ago… so now it’s trousers and a top!

  • Denyse Whelan
    February 23, 2017

    Congratulations on this HUGE thing..and I think more will come out of the experience that you know. I stepped right out of my comfort zone in March 2011 to attend the first ever Aussie Bloggers Conference in Sydney. I had only started my first blog in Dec 2010 but I knew sooooo many of the people via social media (twitter was great back then) and mamamia (which was only a blog with a great number of people commenting who I got to know well and who encouraged me to start blogging). So, for a teacher (retired) who knew no-one I just turned up. Thank goodness for name tags and recognising people’s face. What I did ‘wrong’ for some people was approach them warmly (that’s me) and give a hug. Not all people are huggers…and next morning at breakfast chatted to one person who was eating solo…and her reaction to me was that was how she wanted it to be. I never really knew much about introverts till that conference! But it was ace..I got to meet and here speakers from blogs that have gone from strength to strength and sat at a table with people I continue to have contact with on FB. You will make new friends and it will be ace..

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      Was that the Nuffnang conference Denyse? I went to it, though think it was early in 2012, then PB Event in 2012 and 2013. Everyone seems really nice so far as there’s a FB group set up for attendees.

  • leannelc
    February 23, 2017

    I’d be scared spitless if I was you – I’m completely useless when it comes to masses of strangers and doing it alone. Good on you for stepping up and being brave – you’ll have so much to blog about afterwards – and perhaps a few hints on how to do something this scary and survive! Good luck 🙂

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      It’s usually okay at something like this Leanne – I don’t mind walking into sessions myself etc… I was more worried about the dinner and weather there’d be someone to sit with etc…

  • robjodiefilogomo
    February 23, 2017

    What a fabulous opportunity, Deborah!!
    I just read a great quote that you should do something that scares you everyday—so you’re getting your fill for sure!!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      Very true Jodie… plus I’m ticking my ‘readers / writers event’ off my #5before50 list!

  • Tea Time with Marce
    February 24, 2017

    I love your sarcasm I seriously laugh out loud (at you and with you I’m sure) You will be fine and the fact that you will know 1 person there and an author is amazing I think. Enjoy the experience, hope you find your vanilla cokes.

    The Loving Life linky, that has gave me some ideas for my yoga classes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      Oh I’m glad the link-up has inspired you Marce and thanks for your lovely comments. I’m about to have a break from blogging so it’s kinda bittersweet! x

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    February 24, 2017

    What an amazing opportunity, any excuse for a getaway is worth stepping out of one’s comfort zone for, I reckon.

    SSG xxx

  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    February 24, 2017

    I think it sounds like fun Deb! Can’t wait to hear all about it x

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      I’ll definitely provide an update after the weekend….

  • BoomingOn
    February 24, 2017

    I went to a writing conference by myself years ago, and had a blast. So friendly, so easy to meet people, and lots of fun. You’ll have a blast. And agree with the comment above re black as a travel colour – my absolute basic go to for travelling.

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      I’m just home from the welcome drinks and wore black and it was perfect!

  • Lara
    February 24, 2017

    It sounds like it will be a great experience! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  • Bronwyn Parry
    February 24, 2017

    Deb, ARRA conferences are very friendly. I’m here so I hope to meet you!

    • Debbish
      February 24, 2017

      Hi Bronwyn… I’ve just arrived back from the welcome drinks and it was lovely to get to meet you in person!

  • divabooknerd
    February 24, 2017

    Ohh Deb, you’ll be an absolute HIT! I’m super awkward and being a 37 year old YA reader, I tend to not attend many or any events, just because I feel too old and that I’ll be judged. I also like my anonymity. How long will you be in town Deb? I’m not going to the conference but we could throw together a blogger meet up for us oldies. I’ve just sent you a friend request on Facebook. Hit me up even if it’s just to know where the nearest bottle shop is 😀 😀 😀

    • Debbish
      February 25, 2017

      Sadly I leave tomorrow just before the convention finishes (there are minimal connection flights from Brisbane to Hervey Bay). It would have been great to catch up. So far I don’t feel too much like a fish out of water, or ponds or whatevs!

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    February 25, 2017

    Oh the irony indeed! I can’t WAIT to hear all about it. Throbbing members and all (LOL). Yes, “throbbing members” is a dead giveaway that I have read the odd romance novel in my time.

    • Debbish
      February 25, 2017

      It’s Saturday evening Leanne and I’m about to go to the Awards dinner and so far I’ve had a great time!

  • Greg Hill
    February 26, 2017

    First of all congrats on the ticket! Hope you have a great time. I’ve never been to a convention alone (well once kind of) but I don’t think it would bother me, there’s always lots at those kind of things to keep one occupied. Although I’m thinking more genre type conventions, I’m sure at a romance event I might be somewhat less confident ha ha! But anyway… I’m sure everyone will be super nice and Melbourne looks like a fab city. Hope you share lots of pics!

    • Debbish
      February 26, 2017

      I’ve been bombarding Instagram and Twitter with pics Greg and now heading home. I had a good time and time disappeared so very quickly!

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