To name your fears is to destroy them… life begins at the end of your comfort zone.Lara Casey at The Influence Conference

Girls/women have been a source of anxiety in my life since maybe second grade or so.  They have often hurt my feelings and intimidated me.  So, I obviously thought that attending a conference on my own with 300 women I didn’t know and sharing a room with 3 girls I’d never met before was an excellent idea.

I battled fear and totally had some freak-out moments before the conference; moments when I was frantically digging through my closet, convinced that all of the other girls would weigh 95 lbs. and have perfect top knots and be completely decked out in Madewell and Anthropologie–for free, of course, because their blogs are so successful that they have loads of sponsorships.  I feared they would judge me for being a little bit chubby and brand-new to blogging. Instead, I met women who have a passion for writing, for creating, for Jesus, and for one another–women who look at the world just a little bit differently, like I do. Women who, when they poured out their hearts and shared their dreams and struggles, made me exclaim “me too!!!”

Influence Friends1

Influence Friends2                                                                        
 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Cor. 3:17) has been my jam for the past several months.  I want to be completely, utterly free. I want to shake off the things that have been holding me back, and move boldly into the things He has for me.  One thing I’m learning about freedom is that it’s something you have to walk into, something you have to boldly pursue.  For me, breaking free of  being intimidated by other women meant pursuing freedom by being brave and stepping out in faith.  And that meant attending this conference and stretching myself to approach other women and doing the work to find the common ground that leads to friendship.

It would have been easy for me to stick with my roommates all weekend and not make an effort to meet people.  My roomies are lovely, loving girls, and after sharing a room together we got to know one another pretty well. BUT, I purposefully went to meals and sessions by myself, and approached tables filled with girls I didn’t know to ask “is this seat taken?”  I arranged to meet a sweet girl I knew only via Twitter and the Influence forums for breakfast.  I went to a dinner for adoptive moms where I met a wonderful woman who recently completed an Ethiopian adoption, and who I know will be a cheerleader and a source of wisdom and support in my life for years to come.  I saw a tweet about a group meeting in the lobby of the hotel at 10 p.m. to go get frozen yogurt, so I showed up and went along with them.  I met a few girls I really liked during lunch on Saturday, so I arranged to have dinner with them that night.  My bravery and momentary discomfort were rewarded with some sweet friendships that I pray will be lifelong.

leslie and christaThere was a spirit of kindredness in the air, a sense of knowing that we are a sisterhood united by our creative and spiritual passions.  There was no competition, no snarkiness or backhanded compliments, just women cheering one another on and lifting eachother’s arms in support.  Jesus opened my eyes to see the hearts of my sisters, and He did a healing work in my own heart.

I found my people at The Influence Conference, my tribe of fellow writers and creators.  And I am so, so thankful.

Influence Conference Friends

  • Holly @ The Young Museum

    GIRL!!!! This was SO ME! Just all of it. I went with a girl I *sort of* knew, and we really hit it off…but I was convinced that every person there would already have a book deal in the works and 1,000 followers (at least). The week before the conference…I was seriously contemplating…just making 0 plans with anyone (carpooling and such)…not going and just pretending the conference never existed. Haha…so glad I didn’t follow through with that lame plan.

    Relief! Surprise! Joy! :)

    I so wish I could have met you (I don’t think we met..?). Next year, for sure.

    This post spoke to me so loudly! Thank you for being you <<<< THAT was cheesy! ;)

    • completelycaroline

      Ha, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was freaking out. ;) I don’t think we met this time, but I’ve already bought my ticket for next year! I’m glad the post spoke to you.

  • Leslie Lee

    I’m so happy for you that the conference was such a gift of healing and marker of God’s faithfulness for you. “I found my people at The Influence Conference” <– AGREED. So grateful for that, and loved spending time with you!

    • completelycaroline

      Same here, friend! It was lovely to meet you.

  • Andrea Corbin

    Love this…

  • kim @ oh, sweet joy!

    ” just women cheering one another on and lifting eachother’s arms in support. ”

    yes. exactly what i felt the whole weekend. xo

  • Hannah Ruth (@flutterbyhannah)

    So lovely, Caroline! I’m super glad I got a chance to hang out with you, and I’m totally stealing that bottom picture. :D

    • completelycaroline

      I’m also super glad we got to hang out! Steal away :)

  • nicole neesby

    oh girl! this is so beautiful. i am so so so proud of you for living in such a brave way.

    i didn’t get to attend the conference, but i have learned so much through amazing girls like you who have blogged, tweeted, and instagrammed it along the way. thank you thank you thank you.

    i pray you are blessed in such big ways are you chase the dreams Jesus has put on your heart.


    • completelycaroline

      Thanks, Nicole! I’m glad you’re soaking up some conference goodness, even though you weren’t able to attend this time. Hope to see you in Indianapolis next year! :)

  • Katie @ A Place to Dwell

    Loved this honest post, lady! I think so many felt this way going into the conference. I know I’ve already said it, but I was so excited to meet you and pair up during Lara’s session. And you know what I thought when I first saw you during that session? Who’s this adorable girl with the super cute/creative style?!

    • completelycaroline

      Thank you so much, Katie! So glad the Lord brought us together!