I am an introvert. I am very uncomfortable in groups of more than two or three people. Some people may be surprised to hear that, but here’s the thing: I’ve had 42 years to develop coping mechanisms. Still, I get nervous when I know I’m going to be thrust into an unfamiliar situation with a whole lot of unfamiliar people. So let me tell you, it was a BIG HAIRY DEAL for me to decide to sign up for the Sew Pro Convention, where I would know absolutely no one.
I know that many of us struggled with this, because I joined a Facebook group for people who could be attending the convention. I started getting familiar with the names and faces of fellow sewists. I followed as many as I could on Instagram and checked out their blogs. That way it wouldn’t feel quite so much like a group of strangers. A funny thing happened a couple of weeks before the event, though. Someone in the group posted about their fears.
Guess what? Almost everyone else was in the same boat (including some of the instructors!). Knowing that was probably the biggest help for me, because it got me thinking about what advice I would give them. (Why is it that I’m so good at giving advice and so bad at taking it? I’m guessing that’s another thing many of us have in common.)
Since most of us were traveling solo and didn’t know a lot of people, it was easy to include others or to ask to be included. It started on the shuttle to the hotel. Turns out it’s easy to recognize a sewist and ask questions about logistics: “This is the right shuttle, right?” and then make arrangements to meet in the lobby to go find a restaurant for lunch before registration.
I thought about icebreakers. Since most of us are makers, that’s an easy one. “I love that bag! What pattern is it?” “That scarf is gorgeous! The colors are great for you.” It turned out that when we all started meeting at the registration table, that’s exactly what happened. I even recognized one person because I recognized their bag from Instagram. We all started writing our Instagram handles on our nametags and swapping business cards (and, in some cases, pins!).
After the classes began, conversation got even easier, because there was so much to talk about. We started making arrangements to swap notes with each other, because there was no way we could all make it to every class we wanted to attend.
Best of all, I found people I had other things in common with. A group of us got together one morning to go out for a run. What a great way to get know someone.
At the end of each day, groups got together to explore Chicago and dine together. The bonds that formed throughout the weekend have continued to strengthen through social media. I even got to hang out with one of my new friends the following weekend at Quilters Take Manhattan, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people at QuiltCon in Savannah in February.
SewPro Stars Blog Hop Schedule
Monday Nov 14
Tuesday Nov 15
Wednesday Nov 16
Thursday Nov 17
Friday Nov 18