Unfortunately these days there are events all around the world that bring out strong feelings on every side. Whether it’s a mass shooting or a political campaign or something as innocent (okay, in comparison they’re innocent) as a conference. Hate, love, shame, confident, happy, sad, attracted, repulsed, inspired, discouraged. There are so many that come to us that it’s hard to sometimes see through them.

I’d like to offer a bit of advice (yes, when don’t I when I write these blogs?). Before you give in to whichever emotion you’re feeling, take a few deep breaths. Step away from the situation or keyboard and give yourself time to absorb what is actually happened and THINK about the other side of the equation. I know it’s one of the hardest things to do.

I know there are a lot of times when I’m scrolling through Facebook or looking at a news article or reading a blog that I don’t voice any opinion or comment on a thing. Why? My personal feelings. I’ve found that my feelings on different subjects run the gamut and might not exactly seem to agree with the “popular” view. And I’ve also figured out that there are times that I’m so much more sensitive to seeing a post about xxx or yyy and felt that I’m not good enough or not smart enough or enough whatever.

Same can go for at a conference. While we’d like to think that everyone gets along at every conference, I hate to break it to you but…nope, not possible. Quite a few of the conferences that occur each year have groups of friends that plan their vacations around attending so they can spend those valuable face-to-face moments with each other. The outcome of that? People’s feelings will get hurt as they see themselves “not fitting in” or “not part of the cool crowd”. Honestly? That’s really not it. It’s just a group that is so comfortable with each other that there’s a bond between them.

Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t approach them—do it! Walk up and say hi and ask them their favorite book or author or drink. I’d say there’s a 99% chance that you’ll be welcomed. You might feel a bit out of place at first, but give it time. You never know – the next con you could be part of that group from the get go.

I’ve seen a meme that phrased this perfectly – I can’t remember the image but it said “You know, it’s possible to read something on the internet that you don’t agree with and not respond.” Yes, it is