What I have Learned From twEATup

If you have no idea about Borderline Personality Disorder, go here first….

Last Wednesday evening an event occurred that two years ago I would never have attended.

I have been on Twitter now for some time and have ‘met’ some extraordinary people.

I am now ‘friends’ with other dairy farmers in Canada, the US, Ireland, as of this morning Wales, New Zealand and all over Australia!

There are beef and sheep producers all over Australia that have opened my eyes to the Live Export debate and the lengths the ARA’s will go to get their point across.

There are croppers of all things that have shown me what Canola looks like and how its harvested. And who knew there were chickpeas grown right here!

Horticulturist are few and far between in my list so far but I have a couple of them to teach me the ways of growing fruit and vegies and compare the market vagaries with.

There are Agribusiness and Agripolitical  types from whom I have learned a great deal.

But until last Wednesday I had met only one – Kim, a journalist. Though without her I probably wouldn’t have gotten into Twitter like I have.

So… what happened last week that changed everything?

A twEATup, that’s what!

Before I get into that I’d like to tell you what was happening in my brain for about a week beforehand…..

I have a constant internal monologue – it literally never stops! Its always there and occasionally becomes external and at that point I know I’m in strife!

AAAAHHHHHHH WHAT HAVE I DONE I CAN’T DO THIS TWELVE STRANGERS AAAAHHHH OMG HOW WILL I COPE!!!

That was on a loop. Some of it “escaped”. Interspersed with

AAAAHHHHH HOW CAN I GET OUT OF THIS YOU’VE DONE WHAT! BOOKED ACCOMODATION! OH NO NOW YOU HAVE TO GO AAAAHHHHH!!!!

It just goes on and on… you can practice mindfulness exercises to calm yourself down and they do work but its hard! It also means the anxiety attacks that simmer away can explode at any moment.  But knowing makes you aware and self care is the answer.

I have always had issues with crowds. I have walked out of places because the venue or room was half full. Someone might invade my personal space. Someone might talk to me and I will just loose my shit and freak out and embarrass whoever dragged me along – I would never go into a crowded place on my own. I loved going out with myself, but always somewhere safe!

But on Wednesday I put my  big girl panties on and found myself driving to Coffs Harbour to do just that. Be in a crowded room, in a restaurant I’d never seen, in a town I didn’t know to have dinner and possibly drinks with a lot of people whom I’d never met. And walking into said restaurant into said crowded room on my own!

I made a decision that morning that I wasn’t going to drink because I have no off switch. I’d drink till I ran out normally. It’s a coping mechanism I am not proud of. And even though I’m a happy drunk for the most I still know the hard work I’ve done installing a filter system between my brain and my mouth can be worthless.  I also knew the bulk of the people going leaned a different way politically than me and I wanted not to offend but put any point across in a sensible fashion. Moot point really – we had far more fascinating things to talk about than politics!

Wednesday night we all met in a lovely Italian restaurant in Coffs Harbour called Fiasco – well worth a visit if ever you venture that way. Turned out there were over 20 of us!! Some on Twitter together, others friends of other Tweeple.

All the stress and worry I’d had was a complete waste of time!

It was like we all knew each other. And in a way we do. Those you sort of get close to share your happiest times and can be the ones to pick you up and dust you off and can also knock you back to earth where you need to be – like a real friend, only you’ve never set eyes on them. So they know exactly what’s happening in your life. In my case there are people on Twitter that know more than my husband – this blog is a great example (my dirty little secret!). I’m pretty sure I’m not alone!

There’s a couple of people – Liz, a social worker and Paul, a banana farmer – who I chat to a lot.. by a lot I mean others notice how much time we spend chatting! They were the ones I was most eager to meet. And the most worried! (What if they don’t like me? What if I say something and make it awkward? What if I find them odd!) We sat together and got on so well it was insane! Never before had I felt connections click as quickly! Not just with those two – there is Leonie, ex Forester/National Parks person and Brian, a Landcare person that I also chat to about all sorts of amazing things that I was so glad to finally meet!

I also met people in the food writing trade I didn’t follow but now do which is fabulous!

I am looking forward to the time when we can meet again and continue the conversation started at Fiasco!

A huge thanks needs to go to Beth McMillan of Burrawong Gaian for organizing a great evening!! I am looking forward to the next twEATup!  Beth is worth a follow if you aren’t already @BurrawongGaian.

I got to talk to both Beth and Hayden that evening – their adventure into free range poultry is a brilliant story!

Why would I even attempt this now and not two years ago? I have more confidence now as I have put in the work to get my mind on track.  Its not an everyday thing – I ordered takeaway and nearly couldn’t pick it up as the restaurant was packed! it took me three attempts but Iwalked in there – to be told to wait in a crowded corner as it wasn’t ready!  But if I can prepare myself now I can do nearly everything.

So, what did I learn….

1. The days of saying people (loners) who spend too much time on Social Media are, at best, weird, at worst, creepy, are done!

Sure they might still exist but they were not there on Wednesday!

2. I need to stop listening to my brain and start going with the flow!

I can’t believe I nearly talked myself out of this!!

3. There is a whole world of experiences out there that I know very little about!

And most importantly

4. There are fantastic, interesting, vivacious, inspiring and interesting people out there and I am beginning to believe I may be one of them.

I have come back home with a new found sense of belonging. A warm glow that I will be calling on as times on the farm become increasingly difficult.

I am going to the Australian Dairy Conference at the end of February in Geelong on my own and have known about that for a while.

Yes, the same loop has been running about that!

Interestingly, the inner monologue has slowed down to ‘moments of’ instead of ‘continuous’…

Watch this space!

2 thoughts on “What I have Learned From twEATup

  1. Congratulations! That took a lot of guts. Writing about it did too.

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  2. Wow! A bit late to read it, but i didn’t realise you were like me so socially awkward lol. You were great on the night and everyone was wonderful. I like you struggle with large crowds. I often buy things at shops where the least number of people are. It’s not quite as bad as it used to be but somewhat still there. I also can’t wait for the next gathering fellow tweeps.

    PS- Don’t worry i share similar political views as you. Animal activists aren’t my best friends either lol.

    Like

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