The Benefit of the Doubt

Oh, hey there, friend.

First I want to say THANK YOU for yesterday.  I was overcome with emotion from all the kind, wise, loving words you all left here.  I am in a bad place right now, but you are all right, I am doing all the right things to get out of that place.  And I will.  Get out of that place.

So…today’s business…

It’s Wednesday.  That means it’s Sluiter Nation Recruit day.  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Start here.

I am pretty dang excited about today’s Recruit.  I have probably been reading her blog for about a year and a half–although I was a lurker for a LONG time because I was a bit intimidated with her savvy awesomeness.  And then I started chatting with her on twitter here and there and realized that she is also very sweet and lovely.

And then I got to room with her at BlogHer.

And my head exploded.

Yes, it’s Gigi from Kludgy Mom.

And no, I don’t just like her because she laughed so hard she almost peed at some of my jokes.  (Don’t worry, that vlog is coming soon).

I LURVE her because she is smart and funny and a really awesome friend.

And she tells it like it is.

And here she is.  Telling it like it was…and is.


Katie said, if you can’t figure out something to write about for me, write about belonging.

So I will.

Katie has Sluiter Nation. People who write for it belong to something.

For many of us, blogging creates a sense of belonging – whether it be a feeling that you’re part of a community, or a greater good, or just NOT feeling alone – part of the allure is this sense that you are one spoke in a very large wheel…but that without each and every spoke, the wheel doesn’t turn quite as well as it otherwise would.

What happens when you have an opportunity to meet part of your community in person?

It should feel like that wheel is rolling on the smoothest surface possible.

But guess what?

Sometimes, blog conferences or in-person meetings cause that wheel to hit a few bumps. Spokes get knocked out of whack.

Maybe a person feels like she doesn’t belong.

Maybe she has no real connection with a person that she expected to.

Maybe another blogger hurts her feelings.

Maybe she hurts someone else’s feelings unwittingly.

Maybe she is coming to the party with lots on her mind.

Maybe she is coming to accomplish goals that are different than her friends’.

Maybe she just feels “off.”

I read a lot of posts about BlogHer.

A lot of people had hurt feelings. Or felt left out. Or felt they didn’t belong. Or felt misjudged. Or they had more going on than met the eye. Or..or…or.

I experienced some of those feelings. I caused some of those feelings. And if you were there, or you’ve been at any blog conference, you likely have experienced or caused hurt feelings, too – intentionally or not.

It can cause a rift or make you feel out of sorts about your community.

 How do you keep your sense of belonging after that? How do you continue to feel like a critical spoke in the wheel?

I’ve concluded that it’s in how you handle all of that fallout – that shrapnel.

I could carry around that hurt.

I could bemoan how I was wronged.

I could profess shock that I would have wronged anybody. I’m a good person, dangit!

But I’ve decided that I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt. That people’s feelings and adrenaline and emotions were in high gear that weekend – mine included.

I am choosing to believe that under different circumstances, every single one of us would have done SOMETHING differently.

We all made mistakes.

I am choosing to believe that under different circumstances, we wouldn’t set our expectations of other people to a level that couldn’t possibly be met.

No one is perfect.

I am choosing to believe that no one can really understand exactly what each blogger brings with them to a conference – what pressures, insecurities, joys, goals, medical conditions, family issues.

We aren’t ever able to fully know – to walk in their pointy-toed stilettos.

So I am choosing to own my experience at BlogHer. No blame, no judging anymore. I am choosing to show compassion, forgiveness and patience for the people who may have hurt me. I am choosing to accept that I may have hurt others and by this post, apologize and ask for compassion, forgiveness and patience in return.

That’s how I will feel like I still belong. That’s how I will repair my own spoke and make that wheel turn again.


See what I mean?  YES!  I had that same feeling when I flew home from BlogHer, but Gigi said it exactly right here.

So, you want more of the Kludgy Mom?  Yeah you do.

I read this post months ago, but when I found out we were having Baby #2, I went back and read Brother-Sister Language.

Gigi makes the most rocking, hilarious lists…check out Why Blogging is Good For You.

She also posts about food…and this has been on my crave list.  Now if I just wasn’t so dang lazy…Chocolate Angel Food Cake.

So there you go.  Check out Gigi on a daily basis.

You never know what you’re gonna get, but it will be GOOD.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Thanks for having me, Katie. I’ll guest post for you and your lovely readers any day. 🙂

  2. I’ve lived through a lot of bloggers and their conferences experience and yes I read some good ones, some not very good ones. Thank you for sharing the insider feelings and to encourage others, Gigi! People may have come with different expectations and sometimes it’s just not all rainbows and unicorns

  3. I love the way she thinks about things!

    • Thank you 🙂 It just takes me a long time to get my thoughts out. BlogHer 11 posts are pretty much done but it took me awhile to process how I felt about everything!

  4. First of all, let me say that LURVE is a drastically underused word. IMHO.

    Secondly, that post about why blogging is good for you is one of my FAVES! 🙂

  5. Yes, I agree we must own our blogher experience (and others as well). I believe I did even though it wasn’t the typical reaction upon returning home. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that NOBODY had the feelings I had when we went home. But it was all due to me and not anyone I met there or blogher itself.

    Belonging has always been very important to me. Frankly, I wish it weren’t. I think it has caused me to feel inadequate at times. But I learned that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I have to be okay with that.

    • I think many of us who blog do find a sense of belonging to be very important – and that’s why we get all jacked up at these conferences when not everything goes as we expect. It’s a hard pill to swallow, no doubt about it. I think I still choke every time 🙂

  6. Love this idea of being a spoke in a wheel … great way to describe blogging Gigi.
    And since you are going with the bike analogy.
    It can be a bumpy ride.
    You may even need to ask for directions.
    You could possibly get a bit lost.
    You may even have to ask for directions.
    Yes, you will fall off …
    But you have have to dust yourself off, get back on and enjoy the ride.

  7. I’m with you.

    I believe in dressing your own wounds, and not expecting others to clean things up for you.

    People are people: no one is perfect.

    We can look at the good we did get, the education, the experience, the life lesson.

    It’s not all bad, just like it’s not all good:

    We will feel left out, and we will feel bewildered.

    As my husband said to me when I returned, “Why should blogging be different from the different world.”

    It is just a microcosm of the real world.

    Hope you’re feeling better today, Geeg, liked your post here.

    You never sugarcoat it, or shy away from it.

    • Amen. I think I told you that once, long ago, that the online community is no different than the real world. There is disappointment, and hurt, and ugliness, and mistakes. I wish there weren’t, but there are.

      I am glad we have been able to move past our things together. And I thank you for encouraging me to write this post. 🙂

  8. This post was well-written, Gigi, & a nice way to reach out to those who were affected by the very apparent BlogHer drama that I missed. Hmmm… Do I even want to go next year?

  9. Yes! What Gigi said!! I love how honest Gigi always is about everything…

  10. I’ve read a lot of BlogHer recaps (particularly for someone that didn’t GO to BlogHer!), and this is so honest about having to just own your experience and realize that you can only be responsible for your own reactions and what you took from the conference.

    Everyone goes with their own goals & expectations, and it makes sense that sometimes those collide in a positive way and sometimes in a negative one.

    • Yes – the expectations do collide in good and bad ways.

      I had pleasant surprises as well as disappointments. It’s all in how you frame it up in retrospect, after the emotions die down, that you can really look at it all “objectively” – if that’s possible. 🙂

  11. Gigi-

    You know what word leaps to mind here for me?

    (I realize it’s kind of like two words. But with the hyphen and all…)

    I’m not sure I’ll ever attend a blogging conference; but I do live in this world and belonging does matter to me.

    I also try (HARD) to be a good, kind person (dangit!) and any negativity that someone might perceive coming from me is SO not my intention. Literally ever.

    It would crush me to think I hurt someone; it crushes me to think someone would hurt me on purpose.

    So yeah. The benefit of the doubt. We need to embrace it and move on. To remember that everyone makes mistakes and own ours. To move forward and let go.

    Love it, my friend.
    And when/if we meet?

    I can’t wait to hug you hard.

    • I know it. I hope we don’t have massive mutual disappointment when we meet. But I”m fairly certain that the chances of that are slim to none. 🙂

  12. Such a great post! I had been sad to miss out on BlogHer. Then after reading some posts about what you just described, kind of relieved. This post makes it all ok again. Good for you, Gigi!

    • I think it’s easy to get swayed by reading all of the posts that circulate. In part that’s why I take some time to post mine. 🙂

  13. I think you’ve really captured something with this post.

    I feel like this can easily apply to every day life online, too. While you shouldn’t have to try so hard to be yourself just because you’re building an online community, sometimes you feel bound to a certain decision or reaction because you “must” be politically correct or you “must” have people that like you.

    This goes to show that we’re all just trying to look out for ourselves, for our families, and do what’s best for our part of the online community, but sometimes that doesn’t always come off in the best light to others. I know that as an online business woman, I’m constantly worried about how things might sound in an email…or through text…it’s just a threatening as sitting down at a table with someone who *only* knows your written words or email…you’re likely to disappoint with one misunderstanding about your purpose or intent.

    Good post, Gigi! I really do believe we should all step back and realize that we’re all human – each and every single one of us and at least 90% of us mean well and have good intentions.

    • Yes, Jess…so true that we get trained to think of someone in their “online” mannerisms and it’s not always the same in person – for better or worse. 🙂

  14. This is such a great post. One of my goals is to make it to a blogging conference next year. I feel posts like this actually show me what to realistically expect.

    Thank you.

  15. Great post. Truly, BlogHer is what you make it and for me it was fabulous.

  16. Gigi—so well said. And so very true. For as short as these conferences are, some of us carry around the baggage for much longer than we should.

  17. Very good way to turn the ship around. I heard about so much disappointment, and it did make me feel for those who felt on the outside of where they longed to be. I agree that your online world is much like the real world, which is why I surround myself – in both realms – with people I like and I believe like me. I stuck to those who lift me up, and I hope everyone else finds that group for them.

  18. Great. Love these words. For someone who hasn’t been to a conference EVER, this gives me more confidence to attend one. Thanks for sharing your heart – again.