Surviving Alt

Surviving Alt by Squirrelly Minds
Hello! I’m back! And I’m alive!
Alive and full of incredible ideas and inspiration I can’t wait to put into action.
I feel so honoured to have been a part of such an incredible event. There’s something pretty amazing knowing that every single person around you is a like minded creative. That you can turn around to your new friend and get giddy over the latest The Simple Things issue, or commiserate over the horribleness of herculaenum and papyrus (*shudder*).

But due to the years of hype I knew Alt was going to be amazing. I knew I was going to gain an obscene amount of knowledge and meet people worthy of looking up to. What I didn’t know was how overwhelming and exhausting it would be.
I can’t lie, when my over-activated mind felt like it was overstuffed with cotton balls and my face muscles begged me to stop smiling for one darn minute, all I wanted was to escape from it all just for a tiny moment so I could regain composure. I remember one moment at Alt when I read in my mind the words from Ez of Creature Comforts. She admitted to also getting overwhelmed and sometimes needing to have a little cry too. This helped me realize it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and exhausted amongst so much amazement. We as humans can only handle a certain amount of stimulation, but we can keep our sanity in check while glitter and smiles whirl around us.

Here’s how I survived Alt and had an amazing time doing it.

Surviving Alt by Squirrelly Minds
  • Smile: I love smiling, really I do. And what I love even more is smiling at a stranger and receiving a smile back. Thank you to the 99.99% of you who, whether I talked to you or not, smiled back and made my day brighter.
  • Connect: Connecting and networking is such a huge part of alt, but I knew if I tried to connect with all 649 people I would go insane. I didn’t make it my goal to get rid of the 250 business cards I brought. In fact I believe I have about 150 left. And while I’m trying to figure out what to do with all of those, I feel so much better knowing I didn’t push myself beyond my limits, and I’m so happy with the connections I did make. I love you all!
  • Breathe: Yup, being in a room with hundreds of people in immaculate outfits and perfectly coiffed hair can certainly be intimidating. Whenever I felt like I slightly didn’t belong, I would just take a deep breath and smile (yup! smile!). Really I believe that combo could solve all of the worlds’ problems.
  • Wonder: Being at alt is kind of like being a child again. There are so many things to look at and experience for the very first time, and it’s okay to enjoy it like a kid. Yes, that was my jumping up and down squealing at things like the headband making station by The Land of Nod or the goodie bag on my lunch plate with an adorable heart necklace from Fresh Tangerine. It’s fun being like a kid sometimes.
  • Enjoy: Alt is the design bloggers disneyland (giant swan included) and it was hard sometimes not to get caught up in the whirlwind. I would have to remind myself to step back, look around and soak it all in.
  • Appreciate: What!? I’m here!? WOAH!
  • Hydrate: Being an island/sea level girl, the altitude sickness crept in. I staved it off as much as I could by drinking a lot of h20.
  • Eat: Oh yeah, that’s important too.
  • Focus: I had a goal (discussed here) and I stuck to it. This made it far easier for me to not feel bad about and compare myself to everyone who was doing a great job of hustling the amazing sponsors.
  • Colour: Pens that is. Taking notes in coloured pens is always more fun
  • Risk: Risk taking makes life interesting, especially when there are people you look up to whom you want to meet. Thankfully pretty well every single person at Alt is really relaxed and wants to meet you too.
  • Push: Admittedly, there were times where all I wanted to do was lay down on the pink hotel carpet and take a big old nap. And while I know my body would have appreciated it (and ultimately you should always listen to your body) I knew I would regret it later if I missed a single second. So I pushed through it, and while my body and emotions did take a bit of a toll (hence me admitting I wanted to cry on a few occasions) I’m so glad I stuck around and absorbed everything I could.
  • Understand: As much as I did push myself to do everything, I still didn’t get to it all! I must admit I’m very sad I didn’t do a Bing or Go Mighty photobooth (sad right!?) but I’m learning to understand that there’s a lot going on at Alt, and you can’t do everything.
  • Learn: Note taking, analyzing, conceptualizing, learning. That’s what it’s all for.

And most importantly:

Surviving Alt by Squirrelly Minds
Oh yes. Breathe in, breathe out, close your eyes for a brief moment and relax.
Photos by Justin Hackworth via the Alt Flickr stream.

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10 comments

  1. Wavatar Callie says:

    “Alt is the design bloggers disneyland”. I love this quote and its so true!! Great tips :)

  2. Wavatar Joy says:

    This list is great, and I must remember to look back at it next year if I’m lucky enough to go to Alt again. There are a few things I didn’t really do a good job of this time, like eating. There were so many people to talk to that I completely neglected to eat a couple of times. Next time I plan on packing even more granola bars (I brought a whole box!) just in case. xoxo

  3. Wavatar Anita Boeira says:

    Great recap. I’m looking forward to trying to make it to Alt next year (or to Alt in SF this year), and hopefully to keep in touch with the amazing women I met here at Alt (which were few, since I didn’t actually attend the conference). Good luck, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas you had at Alt!

  4. Wavatar Tan says:

    Thanks ladies!
    @Joy @Anita: I’m so making it my goal to go again next year! And yes, eating is very important! I brought granola bars too but never ate them

  5. Wavatar Stephanie says:

    Sounds like such a whirlwind of inspiration! I’ve only been to medical conferences… Alt looks like so much more fun! Maybe one day… :)

  6. I’ve always wanted to go and explore it… I’ve heard amazing things about it!

  7. Wavatar Ez says:

    What a great recap Tan! It was so wonderful to finally meet you in person! I only wish we could have had more time to chat. Fingers crossed that our paths will cross again one day very soon. xo Ez

    • Wavatar Tan says:

      I know it’s so hard to find the time to just hang out for a bit isn’t it? I hope to see you again soon! If you’re ever up here you let me know xo

  8. Wavatar Annie says:

    Goodness! I didn’t even go and I could understand completely the overstimulation you can experience at an event like that! The reason I hopped over to your blog from Creature Comforts post that EZ did on business cards from Alt was because your business card intrigued me. I thought to myself “now here is a person with imagination and spunk” or so your card spoke to me in that way. Looking forward to perusing your blog for fun and inspiration. Thank you!

    • Wavatar Tan says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by! That means so much. And I LOVE that you got ‘imagination and spunk’ out of my card. That’s totally two adjectives I identify with ;)
      Thanks again and see you around!

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