I had been blogging for just over a month when I signed up for Bloggers in Sin City last year. What possessed me to think that I, an unknown virgin blogger, should fly to Vegas for a weekend to meet 50+ strangers from the Internet is still beyond me. But I did and it was literally life changing. So when it came to registering for BiSC ’12, there was absolutely no question in my mind that I would return.
I learned a lot last year about myself and life. I really thought the second year was going to be different – if I already gained so much previously, what more could I possibly learn this time? I already knew what to expect, what to pack, (fast flats and more casual dresses), I actually knew people this time, so I didn’t have to worry about being an outcast, and I was acutely aware of how my life had drastically changed already. I expected to treat this more as a reunion with old friends and an opportunity to meet new. I really thought there would be less personal growth this time. But was I wrong.
When you try to explain to friends that you’re heading to Vegas for a bloggers event, they just smile and silently assume you are an Internet dweeb going for the Hangover experience. But BiSC is so much more than that. Being as this is the un-conference with no lectures or panels, and just 59(!) Internet rock stars being awesome together in the city of sins, you wouldn’t think that there would be any actual eye-opening life-changing epiphanies that realign your entire view of the world. This concept of meeting long-lost friends that you never knew you were missing, having more fun than you thought was possible, and reconnecting and confirming who you are at your core, all in four days – mind you, seems impossible to the common person. But something happens from when you enter the registration suite Thursday to when you say goodbye at brunch on Sunday that just transforms you. Your perspective on who you are, your purpose, your job, your friendships, your outlook on life and what you want to do with it, shifts. No, I am not being dramatic. It is true.
BiSC is magical.
It is more than just four days in Vegas with blogger friends. It is the weekend I look forward to most out of the entire year because not only do I get to spend a few days having the time of my life with some of my favorite people on the planet, who happen to be the most hilarious, genuine, lovely, caring, quirky, inspiring, supportive, magnetic people in all of the Internets, but I also wind up walking away learning a lot, too.
28 things I learned this year (not all life changing):
1. Last year was not a fluke: BiSC really is amazeballs. Upon returning, I quickly pre-registered to go again next year because the thought of not going is just unbearable. I admit, last January, I was worried that the group dynamic would change and that it would not be as fun this year with different people. Well, you all rock my world. Nicole knows how to plan an epic weekend (thank you!) and everyone better sign up again. What up, BiSC 2013!
2. There are two cities: Vegas and BiSC’s Vegas. Vegas is not my favorite city. There I said it. I can’t spend more than 2-3 days at a time without itching to leave. While the shows are great, Vegas makes me feel dirty, the crowds shove, sadness and smoke fills the air, girls flash everything that can be flashed, there are sketchy creepos at every turn, you have to wait in line for everything and you come home broke. But when you are in BiSC’s Vegas you are surrounded by 60 instant-best friends in this magical land of VIP status, eternal happiness, epic experiences and shenanigans, tackle hugs, and an endless supply of smiles, love and support. All you need to flash is your BiSC badge and just like that you skip all the lines and have access to private parties because you are actually VIP. You have eye-opening revelations that confirm who you are and that you should follow your dreams. 4 days in BiSC’s Vegas is simply not enough. And with that, Vegas becomes the best and happiest place on earth. I enjoy Vegas every few years, but I can’t get back to BiSC’s Vegas fast enough.
3. It resets intentions: It is easy to get wrapped up in the stress of day-to-day life, the work, the drama, your partner’s needs, etc. and forget what makes you happy and well, YOU. But BiSC manages to strip all that away and reminds you who you are at your heart’s center. It resets your intentions and puts you on an optimistic path of possibilities. It serves as an annual refresh button that gets you to refocus on your purpose, priorities and goals. BiSC somehow manages to serve as a reminder that you should pursue whatever it is that makes your heart sing. This year, I realized that I have some big changes ahead of me, but despite not knowing exactly what the future holds for me, I do know that I have a support system to help guide me in the right direction.
4. It boosts your confidence: Usually, dancing makes me self-conscious so when I was complimented on my skills, I nearly melted. While I doubt he even knows how much his words meant to me, it’s the little words of encouragement that boost your confidence. It’s the supportive words or the random comments, thoughtful texts or tweets that remind you that there are people who actually care about you. I left Vegas with a renewed sense of self-confidence and hope, and not just about the dancing, but in general. I felt on top of the world, as if I could do or be anything, talk to anyone, and as though I was meant for something bigger.
5. The Internet is one attractive bunch. The Internet is really ridiculously good-looking. Even by the pool with no makeup and wet hair, we are a good-looking bunch. But man, BiSCuits clean up well. Our theme party this year was Mad Men and I was really impressed with everyone’s creativity and style. We looked so good that even oblivious tourists on the strip noticed us and knew the theme of this hot group of well dressed Joans, Peggys and Dons. When strangers can tell your group theme, you’re doing something right.
6. Apparently Miss America contestants eat at buffets. They all looked really fake with their caked on makeup and perfect posture while eating at the Planet Hollywood dinner buffet. But to be fair, their plates were filled mostly with salad, shocking, I know.
7. Hey I just met you, and this is crazy. Here’s my life story, so call me maybe. If I’m being completely honest here, until BiSC last year, I never felt like I belonged. I wondered if I was ever going to have friends who I felt truly comfortable confiding it, who wanted to actually include me, and who would appreciate me for who I am. But BiSC changed that. I feel like I finally found my people. There is this magical instant connection that immediately makes BiSCuits feel like family. Within minutes of meeting, you feel this spark and bam! you find yourself comfortable enough to share personal secrets and stories. You don’t feel like you have to impress anyone because it feels like they already see the real you. You are so comfortable around each other that you don’t care if you are seen without makeup, if your hair is so frizzy it looks like you got stuck in an electric fence, or if you have to ask people you haven’t known for very long to wait for you to make a pit stop at CVS for deodorant before you go dancing because you don’t feel fresh enough. No? Just me, okay, moving on. Point is, we are more than just blogger friends, we are a family who loves each other as is, weird quirks and all. BiSC has brought so many amazing, tackle-huggable people into my life and has completely opened my eyes to true friendship. It is the most wonderful community of friends that I am proud to call my people.
8. BiSCuits bring out the most authentic version of me: In my everyday life, I am usually that serious friend you go to for advice, not the funny, wacky friend you go to for laughs. I can be the quiet, filtered, reserved, and introverted type who hides her quirky self from the world. But something happens when I enter that registration room and find myself surrounded by BiSCuits. This time, I instantly felt giddy. I felt a release of all the stress that had eaten me up over the past year and just let it all go. I was told that I was being “overly goofy and energetic and had let out all the crazy”; that it was a side of me that hadn’t been exposed before. While this temporarily lowered my spirits, I didn’t let it stop me from being me. Another person told me “sober Caryn is fun but drunk Caryn is fantastic.” I’ll let you in on a little secret- I never got wasted. Sure, I drank a lot. But was never drunkdrunk. It was just me being me, releasing my inhibitions, saying to-hell-with-the-bullshit, letting my authentic self shine through and enjoying the weekend for all that I could. Maybe it was all in my head and this was a false sense of security or maybe it was all the excitement of the weekend, but whatever it was, I wasn’t afraid of what people thought. I felt liberated and embraced my quirky self. I felt free to be the truest, most authentic version of myself.
9. BiSCuits give the best hugs: Saying goodbye on Sunday is the worst but that’s where you will find the best hugs. They are real, sincere hugs, the ones that have entire conversations without any words. The ones that say I care about you. You are special to me and I wish you would always be close by. This isn’t good-bye; this is until we meet again.
10. Friends should make you feel alive and happy. They should inspire you to be the best version of yourself and make your day brighter. Friends should make you feel loved and wanted. I learned this last year, but being with people again who make you feel this way, really reminds you just how important it is. You know when you are driving in your car with the windows down, sun shining in, singing at the top of your lungs to the song on the radio and you feel as though you couldn’t possibly feel more alive than at this very moment and are completely as ease with yourself? You feel ALL THE HAPPINESS as people watch you rock out but you don’t care because you are totally content. BiSC is kind of like that, except you have a whole slew of people singing along with you.
11. The weekend is what you make it: If you want to have life changing epiphanies you have to be willing to let your guard down. If you want to make sure you meet everyone, make that effort to insert yourself into conversations. If you don’t want to partake in an activity because it isn’t for you that is OKAY, you don’t have to do everything just because it is on the itinerary. If you expected to hang out with someone 24/7 but that winds up not happening, don’t let it ruin your weekend. There are 58 other people all just as awesome who want to be with you, too. It is up to you to make the most of the weekend. You will get out of it what you put into it.
12. What happens in Vegas, DOES NOT stay in Vegas: After all, we are bloggers. We tweet, we blog, we instagram, we post on Facebook – if you don’t want your grandma or followers to know what you did in Vegas, don’t do it around this group.
13. IRL vs. Internet (where IRL wins): We often say IRL as if we feel a need to defend or justify this distinction between our online and offline lives. Somewhere that line has blurred for me, and the Internet has become my real life, my home, where my friends most accept me for who I am.
In order to put yourself in a situation like BiSC, you have to be some kind of awesome to begin with, so perhaps that is why we are such a special group. Yet, it still amazes me that of all the bloggers on the Internet, the select 60 that show up are the most cohesive, rad (and attractive!) bunch IRL. Nicole’s web of awesome really pulls in awesome people. We are all various ages and come from different walks of life, but when put together, none of that matters and it’s as if we had always been friends. I feel blessed that BiSC is happening at a time when I can actually be a part of it all. IRL FTW.
14. IRL vs. Internet (where Internet wins) I realized I have some friends who feel more comfortable opening up and sharing personal bits about their life when hiding behind a screen. While I wouldn’t trade those friendships for anything, it can be disheartening to learn that sometimes the relationship isn’t the same in both realities and that it is stronger online than it is IRL. On the contrary, some friendships need the Internet in order to develop those tight bonds. Regardless of if you met online first or met in person and then continued to build your friendship online –it is because of the Internet that these friendships have blossomed and that we even have BiSC at all. Internet FTW.
15. I love pool time: The Flamingo has a beautiful pool and spending the day hanging out gives the group a chance to bond. Whether we are relaxing on day beds (yes, we are VIP), playing Never Have I Ever to win vibrators, cheering on Mikael in the booty-shaking contest, getting squirted in the eye the mouth with rum from a midget holding a super-soaker or just sitting and drinking on the pool’s edge soaking in the sun and the company, it is always one of the highlights of the weekend for me.
16. My new favorite drink is the Blueberry Bombshell: I asked our poolside waitress for a recommendation and she said she had the perfect drink for me. Since I don’t know the official name, I have renamed it the Blueberry Bombshell. It is Blueberry Stoli, 7 up, soda water and lime. It is a perfect summer drink that is deliciously refreshing. I’m a loser but I loved that I actually started a trend! Try it. You’ll thank me, too.
17. Dancing is actually fun even though I suck. If you know me even a little bit, then you know I DO NOT dance. Or sing. Ever. If you ask me to, I’ll probably say something like I need to drink a lot more before I can do that or just politely decline. But not in BiSC’s Vegas. Amber and I made up a fantastically fun dance where we looked like frogs on crack. We’re Frogger Bloggers! Even on Friday when I was ready to call it a night, Brad invited me to join the dance party at Diablos, and I couldn’t turn the dancing down. Me? Couldn’t turn down a dance party? That’s a first! I danced in the middle of groups, I danced with people, I danced alone, and I even danced on the tabletops at Chateau. I didn’t care if you thought I looked stupid. I owned that I can’t dance and had blast looking like a fool.
18. Zumanity is hotter than any strip club. I actually did both this trip and I cannot even begin to explain the hotness that is Zumanity. Despite taking a limo to the strip club, and sneaking in for free, ($33? No, thanks!) I was left totally unimpressed by this one and managed to fall asleep on Kelly’s chest. Vegas clubs, being the Mecca of all strip clubs, should be all sorts of hot, girls should be climbing poles up to the ceiling, and the guys should be getting lap dances. Instead, this one was the actual worst and I walked out highly disappointed, carrying a half-full bottle of vodka in my blazer and I was ready for bed. But Zumanity? Not only was it a funny, sexually charged, erotic cirque show, (except for bendy contortionist man. I had to look away) it was everything that the strip club wished it was. I walked out wishing I had a man that night. Ooh, is it getting hot in here? Excuse me…
On that note, I also learned that if you let the actors at Zumanity take your phone, be ready for them to take photos of their junk and lick your phone before returning it.
19. BiSCuits really like to talk about bird sex, like annually. Last year a group of us were curious about this and Googled it to discover the bird’s cloacae. This year it came up again but this time we got a demonstration at In-N-Out with the hats. I don’t think I’ll look at those hats the same way again.
20. Don’t expect the same experience each year. Last year, being the new kid on the block, I pushed myself to meet everyone and felt free to be my real self because I was starting on a clean slate. Everything was shiny and new and I had no expectations. I think my first time was all-the-exclamation-points-amazing because of this. However, this year I had expectations. It felt more like a reunion and having these friendships already, changed the dynamic of my experience. Since I didn’t have a clean slate this time, I found myself worrying that those who knew me before May 16, might not like me anymore once we arrived. I questioned if the friendships I made were viewed as strong on the other end, as it was on mine. I realized it is okay that this year wasn’t quite on the same level of ecstatic excitement as last, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any less fun.
21. Asian snacks are delicious: Suki brought enough Asian snacks to feed an army and most of it wound up in my stomach. I don’t feel guilty a ton of seaweed.
22. BiSCuits are the some of the most supportive people I know: Between the encouraging “you can do it!” or caring “I saw your tweet and was worried” – they are some of the most thoughtful, loving and supportive people I know. When we’re all in the same room, you can feel the love and warmth exploding from everyone. When I went through hell and back earlier this year, I could not have gotten through those dark days without the outpouring of love and support from my fellow BiSCuits.
23. We breathe ‘special air’: I mentioned the first day that there is ‘special air’ in the casinos that keeps you awake, but it goes beyond the casinos. When we are together, everything seems grandiose. The special air gives you such a high that everything all weekend is filled with ALL THE SMILES AND LAUGHS AND ALL THE AMAZING and none of the sads. You might swear you even saw unicorns covered in glitter with sunshine and rainbows. While I did continue the friendships throughout the last year, I thought the instant connections were so special because we met at BiSC in Vegas. I thought maybe it was the energy or adrenaline of the weekend. But the crazy thing, I realized this special air is not limited to just Vegas. Prior to BiSC, I went to DC and had the great fortune of meeting Brad and Berto beforehand. From the very millisecond we met, we greeted with bear hugs and they instantly felt like family. The magical BiSCuit instant connection isn’t because of the special air in Vegas. It is the love and energy that radiates from everyone who attends no matter where in the country they are.
24. At 27, I apparently can be 21 again, but only in BiSC’s Vegas. I pretty much drank all day and night and for four nights I stayed up chatting and dancing till about 330am and woke up really early every morning, hangover free and wide awake ready to take on the day. Yet, when I returned home, I went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke up around 8am wanting to DIE. Additionally, it wasn’t until I returned home that I began to sound like I ate a dog’s squeaky toy. I blame the special air.
25. Returning to real life blows. It is challenging and brings on all the sads. Saying goodbye on Sunday brings all the emotions. You’re still on a high from the amazingness of the weekend, but you know the inevitable goodbye is just around the corner. I wish there was a pause button on life to freeze frame this moment instead of watching my best friends head to the airport. I’ll admit, I had a really hard time writing this post because I kept going back and forth between the YAY! I LOVED IT; IT WAS AMAZING! Tackle hugs for everyone!! To the – I’m SAD AND LONELY and wondering what if all the close friendships, the lack of judging, the comfort I felt was just in my head? I just got done writing about all the ways BiSC is life changing and how the people are one of a kind, which is all true, but now that we’re home and back to reality, my mind has begun to wonder what if it was all just my imagination? Being so removed from everyone and everything. I sometimes feel out-of-sight-out-of-mind but then I’ll get a texts or tweet from BiSCuits and my day is made. I feel helpless that I am so far away and can’t be there to every time a friend is hurting. It is really hard to go back to your everyday routine and feel so unmotivated. I miss waking up and checking twitter to see what everyone is doing (and being able to join them). I know this is crazy talk but to go from the constant stimulus and being with so many people all the time, to being alone in your apartment, it just brings on all the questions and sad feelings. Please come visit! The special BiSC air makes you forget all your stress and troubles. It isn’t until you say goodbye and return home that you are reminded that reality really sucks.
26. You will not be BFF with all 60 people. Even though BiSC attracts amazing people, you are not going to be besties and bond with ALL OF THEM. Accept that.
27. Adding a day before and after is the only way to go. Not only are the flights cheaper, those extra nights make the trip seem that much more complete. Even though I desperately was ready to go home Sunday after brunch, I was finally able to relax and unwind by the pool both Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. A group of us got to enjoy the Bellagio Fountain show together and get in more bonding time. It is hard to spend time with everyone, so I was really happy that I finally got to spend quality one-on-one time with Almie as we waiting for our flights Monday afternoon.
28. Lastly, I learned that it is really hard to be brief and summarize everything I’ve learned. No matter how much you try, you can never really explain BiSC to someone who hasn’t lived it for themselves.
I am going to write a recap on the events of the weekend, but hopefully that won’t be as lengthy or take me as long to post. If you made it through and are still reading thank you.