Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why I Willingly Submit to Sleep Deprivation: My 5 Reasons for Attending the CGOA Conference

Crocheters from around the country descended upon Concord, NC, last week to attend the semi-annual CGOA conference. Hobbyists and professionals spend five days together sharing their love of crochet through classes, fashion show, design competition, and crocheting in public.

I've much to blog about my experiences while at conference. Subsequent posts will be about the people I connected with and how I reframed the Designer Meet & Greet to reduce my anxiety.

I knew going into conference that it would be an exhausting experience that is capable of inducing the ability to see through space and time triggered by sleep deprivation. A few hours of missed sleep each night is a sacrifice I'm willing to make and here are my reasons why:

This is my main reason for attending. The chance to meet with my mentor Kathryn, fellow designers, hobbyists, and vendors is priceless. I love the seeming randomness of making connections with people. I try not to plan too much so the opportunities can present themselves and let the magic happen.

A creative force field is generated by the convergence of designers and hobbyists ignited by the design competition and fashion show then fueled by communal sleep deprivation and the daily two free cocktails offered by the hotel. It's paradoxical how the conference is both invigorating and depleting, and instead of trying to wrap my brain around that I'll just bask in the mystery of it all. Besides, I've got dozens of design ideas that require my attention.

The opportunity to show and consult with various professionals and editors and receive their feedback is alone worth attending. It may also have a happy ending--as in selling a design! Plus I was able to get a lot of feedback from my mentor in addition to all of her suggestions, sharing of wisdom and philosophy of crochet, and more.

Doris Chan shows off
her very own Spoctopus
Learning Experience
I haven't attended any classes, unless Professional Development Day counts, yet I leave conference thinking I've learned. There is plenty of factual knowledge to learn at conference, but there is also plenty of social knowledge to be gained such as: many crochet designers are Trekkies! All knowledge is empowering and I seek to know, understand, and contribute to the vast database of the community.

I'm a true introvert at heart so my desire to be part of a community is ambivalent--and I struggle with being able to see myself as truly belonging in any group. In the last hour I was at conference I came to realize that there was more than just crochet that I had in common with many of the people around me, and in that realization I started to feel like I belonged and was part of the community.