A Difficult Weekend

A Difficult Weekend

My 4 day weekend away by myself was a mix of highs and lows, mostly lows.  I really, really missed my family.  By the last day I was about ready to run home without my car….but it was 250 miles, so I didn’t think that would be such a good idea.

The first 2 days were spent attending a conference.  I want to tell you about it, but I am not going to say what conference I went to because I don’t want to show anything but respect for the work and effort that went into it.  This was just my experience and it could have happened in any number of places.  So I’m not blaming the conference organizers.

This was a Christian conference.  It was billed as being uplifting and encouraging.  I went alone, but wasn’t worried about that.  I have been to plenty of conferences over the past few years and have gotten good at meeting new people and have met some incredible women that way. Some of my best friends now are those that I met at conferences in the past.

For two whole days I walked up to people to talk to them, I introduced myself, made eye contact, asked about people’s interests and lives, Tweeted invitations to meet, etc.  I talked to ladies in the elevator, at the bathroom sink, at the vendor tables.  I asked the ladies in the information booth about meetups.  I did it all.

And no one would talk to me or showed any interest in getting to know me.  No one.

On Friday I asked four different people if we could have dinner together and none accepted.  They all said they were going with their friends and none invited me to join them. By the end of day one I was sitting in my car in the mall parking lot across the street from the hotel eating alone and crying.

Now please understand….I am fine.  I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or try to fix it.  I am confident in who I am and I didn’t take any of it personally.  How could it be personal?  They didn’t even know my name.  It was painful….not being able to make a connection.  But I came home unaffected…..just sad that it happened.

The lesson I took away from this lonely, difficult experience is that I never want anyone else to feel like that.  The next conference (or group event) I attend I will be friendly, more interested in others, greeting people, asking strangers how they are doing and anything else God leads me to.  I will set aside my introverted nature and be bold for Christ in case there is anyone there feeling left out.

After every rejection all weekend I would think, “If I was a more delicate person this would have damaged me and been very hard to get over.”

I am sure most of you have had similar times when you felt left out and not valued.  I hope you know that here….on this blog….you are LOVED!  And even better than that, GOD LOVES YOU!!!!

He met me where I was at the conference.  He comforted me and shined His light on me and the nights alone in my room when I prayed and asked Him to draw me nearer to Him were invaluable.  I don’t get alone time very often, so I sure did appreciate that.

Now that I’m home I will put some distance between me and this experience and let God use it for His glory somehow.  Only He knows what beauty He can make from my unhappy weekend.

There were some good things from my weekend: I got to see my favorite sister-in-law and her family for a few minutes; on Sunday I spent time with some women that I am getting to know and growing to love; dinner at In & Out was a new, yummy experience; driving….I like driving so that was awesome; texting with my boys which was so cute!; coming home to a loving family.

Here are some questions I am wondering about you:

1. Would you go to a conference alone?
Honestly, I don’t think I would ever do it again even though I really like alone time.
2. Have you ever had an experience similar to mine last weekend?
I’d love to hear your story if you want to share.
3. What do you do when you are feeling like crying from rejection?
I called a friend.  She cried with me and prayed with me and helped me remember that I am worth knowing.

I also want to say thank you so much for being the kind of people that encourage one another.  I adore you all!

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Comments

  1. Lisa,

    It sounds like you already do a pretty good job, but here’s the background of how I used to act at conferences and networking events and then here’s what I learned:

    How I used to act:

    I would attend networking events or conferences by myself and want to talk to people but never find the opportunities to. I’m good at small talk, but not at breaking the ice. I’d thought about trying to introduce myself, but you can’t say, “Hi, I’m Stephanie, what brings you here today?” The obvious answer (that I was always afraid would get me an “are you stupid” response) is, “To hear the speaker.” So I would always wait for someone to talk to me, which never happened.

    What I learned:

    First, if you can, focus on people that are standing to the side on their own. Those are most likely the people that aren’t sure how to break the ice.

    Second, say something like, “Hi, I’m Stephanie. I’ve been waiting all week to hear so-and-so speak, what are you looking forward to about the conference?” That gives them an opening to talk and immediately reveals something about them.

    Third, persist in asking questions. It makes people feel good when you make them the center of attention. When you can, add your own feed back and make sure to share about yourself, but always turn the conversation back to them with a question.

    Fourth, people are usually much more open to talking and hanging out than we think. I went to conference with my husband (an introvert) for the first time and was surprised that at the after-party he would just randomly go up to a full table and introduce himself. And I was shocked that they would immediately bring him into the conversation. I had always been afraid to do that because I assumed I would get snubbed. It may happen sometimes, but not as often as you’d think.

    Finally, you talked about inviting people to dinner and being turned down because they were hanging with their friends. Don’t be scared to say, “I don’t know anyone else here, do you mind if I tag along?” Sometimes you might still get turned down (it happened to me and I cried, but I also knew that it was actually a team meeting lunch so turning me down was appropriate). Often though, people don’t think about the fact that they are the difference between you sharing a meal with others and dining alone. The lack of invitation usually is thoughtlessness, but not purposeful snubbing.

    I hope this helps, and I’m happy to answer any other questions or expound further

  2. Oh, Lisa! What a weekend and I am so glad that you are able to see God’s hand to reach out to others in similar situations down the road – I don’t know if I could do that. I am fine once someone connects with me, but I would have a horrible time trying to even connect with others – I probably would have gone to my room alone as a false choice if you know what I mean.
    I am glad you are home and had some high points ;)

    • Bev, I did slip to my room a couple of times to just get away from it. But I made myself attend all of the sessions and even the party on Friday night. I’m glad I learned from it. I will be better prepared if it ever comes up again. Nice to hear from you! Lisa~

  3. Lisa,
    I just recently found your blog and have thought how much fun it would be to meet you in real life! I wish I had been at the conference–I would have talked with you and loved to have dinner with you. I have attended conferences and things like that alone but I have also, more often than not, had similar experiences to yours. Honestly, I think men are way nicer in that way than women are–at least that has been my experience in professional settings. Honestly, I always thought it had something to do with the fact that I am from Southern California. I don’t think the women here would exactly win any ‘nicest’ contests. And then when I am with women from other parts of the country I feel like they kind of write me off as soon as they know where I am from. At least you got to call your girlfriend. That is exactly what I would have done!

  4. Lisa,
    I *so* felt your heart as I was reading this. I’ve attended many conferences alone and have experienced something similar. I have also cried from rejection in ministry/church/conference related situations. I usually just pray it out, although I have been known to wallow, which is never very helpful. :P

    I’m with Kimberley, I wish I could’ve been there to give you a big hug!

    Melissa~
    PS I feel sorry for all the ladies who missed out on the blessing of being your friend!

  5. You are so talking about me, right? I just know that you are talking about me in my daily life. I have good days and I have bad days in dealing with it. I am getting more used to the idea that I am just an oddball and no matter how many times I talk to people and ask questions I just don’t fit in. I recently stepped away from the online world because I thought that maybe I spent too much time on the computer “talking” to people so that prevented me from fitting in with real life people. Guess what… I’m back! hehehe… I am just an oddball and I’m learning to embrace it. It’s not easy. I know I’m not an oddball with God though. He was just goofy enough to make me the way I am so I figure there has to be reason. :)

    At any rate, I will probably never attend a conference for what just happened to you there. I already receive these reactions from people I see on a weekly basis, I’d really rather not spend the money I don’t have to travel and have more people do that too. Ha! (Really that is a poor attitude isn’t it? Sigh!)

    I am sorry to hear that it happened to you though. I would have sat in the mall parking lot and had dinner with you. :) That would have been just fine by me! Keep looking for the wallflowers. They like to meet people too.

    Take care!
    Dee

  6. I’ve attended many conferences and events alone, often as a workshop presenter. I make a practice of giving the time to the Lord and trusting Him to provide the connections that will edify others and glorify Him. I always engage at the lavatory, in the buffet line, on the elevator and anywhere else I can make eye contact with other attendees. I offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee invitations. Like you, I’ve made lifelong friends this way. Other times, I’ve spent the entire event essentially alone. When the connections happen, I enjoy the fellowship and opportunity to minister. When they don’t, I trust the Lord to use my alone time to refine me. Both are profitable. The time is His, I am His. I have learned to be content whatever my circumstance.

  7. I found your blog via Pinterest and somehow found my way to this post. I’ve been in your shoes before, only it was at a conference where I was a speaker. All of the other speakers were a lot more well known and I was the little peon that nobody knew. And nobody wanted to know me either- because I wasn’t somebody famous that they could say they met or get a picture taken with.

    I can’t tell you how lonely it feels when you’re sitting at a supper table as a speaker who is supposed to answer questions for the attendees who are there and none of them know who you are and right in the middle of your conversation they all look away and forget you were even talking because Miss Big Name Speaker just arrived late and they are awestruck by her. Kind of made me want to puke.

    And I stood in the middle of a crowded room feeling so little because when I tried to strike up conversations, nobody cared. I wasn’t famous enough.

    But…like you, I found the Lord in all of it and took away some valuable lessons about making others feel worth, even if I don’t know them. I also decided that weekend that if I’m ever Miss Big Name Speaker myself I never, ever, ever want people to worship me like an idol!

  8. I found your blog through the 2:1 conference and I am so glad I did! I am so happy to hear that you are resting in God for your support in this situation. ~Alexis on behalf of everyone at A Moment with MOM

  9. Lisa,
    I found your post through the 2:1 Conference. I am so sorry for your experience, as I have been there often. Often a crowd is the easiest place for loneliness. Your tears sound pretty normal to me, and I admire your courage and determination to stick it out and learn in spite of the social climate. I wish I could have been there. I would LOVE to get to know you! As a mother of a large family and a blogger, you are already hero material on my list! I’ll be looking forward to following your blog.
    God bless YOU today!
    Katie

  10. Oh Lisa! This post was shared via the 2:1 Conference page because of how different they want their conference to be from what you just experienced. When I saw who it was who had written the article, my heart sank. I would LOVE to meet you and all I could think about as I read this was how much I would have given to have been there with you and hung out w/ you there. I hope we do meet someday…who knows, it might even be at a conference. ;) Love you, girl!

  11. Wow…Usually my being alone stems from my uncomfortable self with groups…I know when I am in a group its easy to not notice the fringe around…but to actively seek the group and nothing…May God use it for His glory. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Debbie Thacker :

    Hi Lisa!
    I just found your blog and found I have found a kindred spirit! Every one of your posts have spoken to me! I am a house parent for foster children in a group setting, so I love your parenting tips! I stumbled onto your page after seeing your wall of scripture! How awesome, and we’re looking to do something like this in our house. Don’t know if I’m ready to tackle this yet! As far as this post goes though, I really wanted to share my thoughts. Something similar happened to me, but I was actually with a group of women that I didn’t know very well. I was so excited they included me in their “group”. After the road trip to the conference, it dawned on me why I really didn’t know these women! We had nothing in common! Our views on scripture, marriage, just about everything differed! I thought this was a group I wanted to “connect” with, but God showed me how “disconnected” I really was. I spent a lot of alone time with God. He taught me so much that weekend. And yes, He convicted me to about the way I had treated others in the pass, and I assured Him, I got His message, LOUD and CLEAR! I agree with some of the others too, wish I had been there! I know God would have allowed us to connect, and we would have had lots of fun and laughs! So excited I found your site! Looking forward to following you and your precious family!

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