I just returned from two weeks back in the States. When you’re an expat these trips home are fun and exciting, but they’re also a bit overwhelming. I needed to be in the States mostly for work, to attend the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas and then head to the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference (TBEX) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
There were a few days in between these events, so instead of flying back and forth I went to Minnesota to spend some quality time with my mom. My trip was packed to say the least. I thought going to Minnesota would be the buffer, and I’d get some work done and sleep, but even in Minnesota it was go, go, go.
After two weeks of getting up and getting ready every day — shower, get dressed, blow dry hair and put on make-up — to meet with business contacts, my Savvy Sassy Moms team, friends, family, networking, socializing and meeting new people, I came home and felt like I had just been hit by an 18 wheeler truck.
When you live outside the US, it can be very overstimulating to go back. This might be because we don’t live in a city, but rather a very small beach town. I also work from home and am at my desk most of the day, so walking around and “being on” for two weeks when I’m usually alone made my head spin. I, of course, shower here and get dressed — some days — but not to the extent that I did while I was in the States, that’s for sure.
ABC Kids Show – Las Vegas, NV
I have been attending this show for many years now. It is where a lot of my business contacts and brands I partner and work with are, so it is a very important and productive show for me to attend. Last year I was not able to go, and I sent my managing editor Katie to cover the show for Savvy Sassy Moms. This was the first time I trusted anyone to represent me. It was a big step, but something I had no doubt Katie could handle. Since moving to Costa Rica, I have had to learn to let go and delegate a lot more, which has been a very valuable asset in my business progression.
This year we were there together and it was the FIRST TIME we had met IN REAL LIFE. (Yes, I am shouting.) Seriously, Katie has been working with me for 2+ years, and we had never met offline.
This was a thrilling moment for me, and I hope for her as well 😉 Hiring people you’ve never met face-to-face is not new by any means, but it still shocks people. What I was really more happy to hear was that people could not believe we had never met before. People thought we had been friends our whole lives, that we’ve gone back years and that we’ve been BBQ’ing in each others back yards and having sleep overs!
That proves to me that our working relationship is spot on.
That is the thing with online relationships; they’re just like any other relationship: they grow, you build trust and over time you learn to depend on one another. Just because you start out behind a computer screen doesn’t mean the relationship is any less valuable or special as a relationship in real life. If you are who you say you are online, then meeting people in real life should not really be that awkward at all. Of course there are online relationships that do not go as deep and personal as mine and Katie’s, and that’s not to say I’ve never had any awkward encounters, but for the most part the people I’ve really connected with online have been a perfect match offline.
For me, it was finding someone that got what I was trying to do, believed in it, wanted to help and felt a sense of ownership. It was also about finding someone that could keep up with me — but more importantly, pull me back once in a while, too.
Not only did I meet Katie in real life but I also met Angela, another friend that has been writing for me for years and is now my editorial assistant and social media manager (third from the bottom). Without these two, I’d be curled up in a ball under my desk most days.
And then! I met five other women who are apart of my Product Scout program on Savvy Sassy Moms. (Two of the other women pictured I have known for a very long time in the blogging world.) These women took time out of their hectic lives and flew to Las Vegas for a mini “Scout weekend,” which was really nothing more than a fun girls trip for us to meet face to face and get to know one another better. Again, I am not close with these women other than online, but meeting these women was so easy and natural.
Since moving to Costa Rica, I don’t get as many chances to meet up with my online friends and peers like I used to, which again has helped keep my butt in the chair and get shit done without as many distractions or events and meetings pulling me in a million directions. However, I will say — real life, person-to-person interaction will ALWAYS be more meaningful and rewarding. It’s very important to make the time to get offline and make the effort to meet up in real life. I felt very fortunate sitting around the table at dinner with these women, to see the smiles and hear the laughter. I can’t always feel that behind the computer screen.
Yes, being back in the States and connecting was exhausting but also refreshing, fun and exhilarating. It restored trust in myself, my decisions, my work, my life, and more importantly my relationships.