25 Things I Learned at an Un-Conference Focused on Wellbeing
Last weekend I had a life-changing, empowering experience whilst attending the Superlatively Rude Live event.
It took me by surprise and I’m still trying to figure it all out.
What I do know is this: sometimes something calls to you and you just have to grab it by both hands and take the leap and hope it carries you somewhere. And I did just that.
I booked a ticket, to go by myself, to this event hosted by brilliant author, funny lady, and all-round ray of sunshine Laura Jane Williams. The event billed as an ‘un-conference’, it was a gathering of open-hearted, positive people to share ideas and generally have a wonderful time.
The speaker list looked interesting, different to the usual conferences I end up going to, and for once it felt like I was booking myself onto an event that would benefit ME rather than ‘the brand’ or ‘the business’. This was personal.
The problem is that I failed to remember that I currently suffer from pretty severe anxiety (surprisingly really because I have been taking medication for it for the past 2 years), have barely left the house for the past 6-9 months, and the last ‘event’ I went to was over a year ago.
How did I forget this?! Who forgets they are suffering with a mental illness??!!! Me, that’s who.
I was feeling so in-the-moment with booking this ticket that I forgot.
You see, I’ve always been super-independent and brave. The kinda girl that hops on a plane to the other side of the world on her own, because she fancies an explore. The kinda girl that regularly sits in her favourite restaurant for lunch on her own, because she really likes Thai food. The kinda girl that carries on trying to have adventures despite her brain not being at optimum capacity.
So what happened?
The first session was powerful, inspiring, full of grrrrr……yeah! It was kind, and loving, and open. The first session was about being yourself. And how that’s kind of a brave thing to do.
So, me being me, I wanted to be brave and ask the first question. As soon as question time came around my hand shot into the air. I had been studiously taking notes on my phone (#evernoteforlife) throughout the talks and made a list of potential questions. I figured if I asked a question first I’d feel braver about meeting all these brand new people (a room of nearly 100 people is pretty intimidating when you’re on your own and know no-one).
I was picked. I asked my question.
The answer was so powerful I felt my eyes getting heavy with liquid. I smiled, I kept eye contact, I held it back.
The lunchbreak was announced.
I raced out of the building as fast as I could and they began to fall. Big, fat, heavy tears…. there I was, power-walking down New Oxford Street with waterfalls streaming down my face.
I called Raj, who was nearby, I found him, he held me.
After some 20 minutes of trying to calm down I made my way back to the event. After all, there was a lunch break and new people to meet. But I walked into the big intimidating room, groups of amazing women gathered in small groups nattering over sandwiches…. and I made a beeline for the loo.
There I sat, on the toilet, sobbing and sobbing. I couldn’t stop. It wouldn’t stop.
I now started to feel embarrassed, ashamed. I knew my face was going to start looking puffy, my eyes red, my carefully applied make-up streaking from the waterworks.
But outside I could hear a queue forming and I was hogging one of the three cubicles. So I tried to dab my eyes down, put my head down and made my way back outside. There I stood, outside the front door of the conference building, still with tears coming down my face. It just wouldn’t stop.
Something had been unblocked and the tears were coming, thick and fast.
Suddenly a buddhist monk appeared out of nowhere (seriously, London….) and he handed me a small token and put a bracelet on my wrist. This might have been a nice gesture, a meaningful sign from the universe, maybe some comfort through the tears … but no, he then handed me a piece of paper to ask how much money I could give him. Not really in the mood for capitalist spirituality I politely declined the bracelet and made my way back into the event. (I’ve studied buddhism, that’s not really how it works).
Despite the heavy emotion I absolutely did not want to miss the rest of the day. And thank goodness I went back in. Because the next session was about menstruation.
Yep, we had an entire hour learning about periods! It was life-changing, empowering, and uplifting. We learned about what happens to our bodies throughout the cycle, how that affects our moods, and how best to make the most of each part of the cycle in a positive way. It was fascinating, and useful, and amazing.
I also got chatting to a couple more people in the audience and started to feel a little less fragile.
The final session was about love. It was funny, moving, and life-affirming. We heard from a poet, a journalist, and editor specialising in love research.
It reminded me of how lucky I am to have Raj, and also confirmed how well we have done with the work we put into our relationship.
All in all it was an amazing day. I had some unexpected reactions, but that is more to do with me personally than the day itself. The tears, the emotion … it was all a release, an unblocking of things buried, forgotten or not dealt with. The day reached in and allowed me to feel differently, and for that I’m so thankful.
I am a little disappointed in myself for not being a social butterfly and making lots of new friends. But, I think the universe needed me to concentrate on the content and what it meant for me. The friendships can be saved for another day.
So, on that note, here are some of the things I learned from Superlatively Rude Live …
25 Things I Learned From The Un-Conference
1. Being yourself and who you really are encourages others to be themselves
2. There’s an epidemic of comparison with the rise of social media, and advances of technology. With social media we take so much at face value yet everyday people are ‘curating’ content on social media. Unfortunately many of us are quick to try and pigeon hole people rather than realising that this curated content is a version of their lives not necessarily the truth, or the whole truth (I wrote something similar here).
3. There are a number of ways to compare yourself – money, career, body shape, weight, hair, friendships, families, etc. Consider what that comparison is trying to teach you, and how can you work with it to move forward.
4. If something is important to you, keep it in your heart and protect it. Don’t let anything near it, or detract you from it.
5. Unfollow things that don’t make you feel good. Be active and discerning about the content you follow and where you get your news.
6. Become less ‘them’ and more ‘you’. Be the master of your own fate.
7. Wherever you are from, you are never just one thing.
8. We absorb expectation that are inherent in the culture we’re exposed to. But you don’t need to subscribe to expectation if they are not who you are.
9. It’s sad that it’s considered brave to be yourself.
10. Being an ‘other’ can be a strength. You have a birds eye view of both cultures that you inhabit.
11. Being an inclusive feminist is about being able to examine your own privilege and being empowered to learn.
12. Feminism is, and should be, for everyone. You need to have empathy for women who are the same and different to you. Make room for other women.
13. Allow yourself to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.
14. Having an awareness of your menstrual cycle is empowering. Work with your body and the different ’season’s throughout the month to be the most kind, and effective person you can be. This way your energy can be sustained throughout the cycle.
15. For instance, in your inner winter it’s a time to get clarity and direction for the next cycle. In the inner spring you can connect with the playful side of you. The inner summer is the powerful superwoman phase, time to being projects to life, and the inner autumn is the time for doing deeper creative work within yourself.
16. When you feel good, you do good work.
17. Tips on how to maintain love (and that includes all kinds of relationships – romance, friendships, family, peers) include:
18. Bring new conversations into the relationship
19. Balance intimacy and individuality
20. Pay attention to the moments when you’re irritated (that tells you what you’re afraid of or what’s actually bothering you deep down)
21. Talk through a fight, rather than shouting
22. Problems in love are the same, it’s how you face them that makes the difference
23. Stay curious.
24. Give yourself permission to take love seriously.
25. And finally … I learned to do the things you know you NEED, even if it is a little scary to do.
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Thank you so much to Laura and everyone who made this event happen. It was exactly what I needed in my life right now and I cannot wait for the next one!