Voices of the Year

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The room was big. Really big. It was the first time any of us had been in it, as most of the conference programming had happened in the convention center down the street. I wasn’t prepared for the size. The lights. The stage. My friends had snuck in early, thankfully, to calm me down a bit. Because you know when you’re overwhelmed and ohmygoodness and look over there! and eek the lights! and you just need your people? I had my people. I took a deep breath. It was time to head backstage.

Voices of the Year is the Community Keynote at the BlogHer conference every year. Blog posts from the year are submitted and judged. This year, out of 2,600 submissions, 100 were chosen to be honored and 12 of us were asked to read our pieces to thousands of women (and Neil) on the first night of the conference.

I was chosen to read my post, “I Got Saved At Jesus Camp,” after being nominated by my good friend Alexandra. I was given three weeks to prepare. Now, it was the time.

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Backstage was a mix of excitement, terror, last minute preparations, and the glorious distraction of waiting for Queen Latifah. She was coming to host the event. She was late. It was perfect. We settled in. We danced and sang. We tweeted. We texted. We started to calm down.

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One by one, we went on stage. One by one, we totally ruled. It was amazing. No one made mistakes. Everyone was perfect. Each piece stood honorably on its own. Each reader was greeted with a line of hugs and omg you totally ruled! as they rejoined us backstage. One by one, it got closer to being my turn.

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I don’t remember stepping on stage. I remember telling myself not to mumble. Because my mom told me not to mumble. Go slow. Take a breath. Be present. I can do this. I can maybe even enjoy this. A few minutes in, my knees started to shake. Four minutes felt like an eternity. But I fought it. I did it. And it ruled.

I walked off stage to the sound of applause. My heart nearly burst. I reached for my phone and saw a direct message, “FUCK YEAH!” Best day ever. Officially.

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We joined Queen Latifah on stage for photos before going to a reception where we were greeted by giant posters of our work. There was probably food there too, but I didn’t notice.

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Life totally rules.

(Photo of me on stage by Sarah, photo of me with my giant poster by Annie of PhDinParenting).

Author: Casey

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