Ever since I really “got into” blogging a couple years ago, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern that occurs this time of year. Tickets for conferences start going on sale pre-holidays. People get tickets/fancy new clothes for said conferences as presents during the holidays. Hashtags for conferences start popping up in tweets… #blogher, #blissdom, #altsummit, #bisc, #ces, #sxsw. Right around now, and continuing on for the next couple of months, those tweets start coming fast and furious, along with the requisite “oh my god I don’t have anything to wear!” and “I’m so nervous, will anyone know who I am” and “Who needs a roommate?” tweets & blog posts. Then come the “I can’t believe I’m at conference x!” tweets and instagram pics… followed by the “Conference x wrapup” posts and tweets.

Confession: I’m totally guilty of all of the above.

But this year, I’m not going to any of the “cool kid” conferences. I don’t have $500-$1000 to drop on a conference ticket (hi, that’s at least half of my rent on the low end), so that makes most of these conferences non-starters. I’ve also had to reevaluate the ROI of these conferences, as my marketing friends would say. Return on investment- what that $500 or $1000 would get me. Would I make 1K worth of business connections that I wouldn’t make otherwise? Would I learn $500 worth of information that I couldn’t get somewhere online or from a book? For me, this year, the answer was no, the ROI just wasn’t cutting it, for most of the upcoming conferences. Instead, I opted for the AIGA Y17 conference, a design conference where I’m pretty sure I’ll learn at least my $250 worth. Plus, it’s in San Diego, so travel costs are super low (yay!)

So what’s with the title of this post? Because there’s nothing quite like the feeling during conference season when everyone is making new real life besties and having the drunken times of their lives while you’re at home. Working. In your pajamas. Conference envy (at least for me) is a bit of a green-eyed beast; I’m jealous of people who a) can afford to go to all these conferences and b) are having fun (read: not working). And to some extent, I feel like an “uncool kid”- because if all the cool kids are going to the conferences, then not going automatically makes me, well, uncool.

What’s a left out girl to do? First off, start saving for next year. If there’s a conference I really want to go to, and know will be worth the money, it’s time to start pinching pennies and seeking out sponsors. Secondly, I need to evaluate whether I’m wanting to be at these conferences to actually learn something, or to just have social time in the hopes of feeling like a cool kid. Let’s face it, I’m never going to be Miss Popular, conferences or not. Instead of futilely hoping that going to the “right” conference might be my cool kid moment, I need to focus on developing/building relationships with the people I admire (and would hope to meet at said conference) and do things on a one-on-one basis. Third, I can either pout (which I’ve done a bit of) orrr at the same time live vicariously through people like Not Your Average Ordinary, who’s offered to be peoples’ eyes and ears at Alt annnd I can be fabulously creative at home.

Which leads me to…

While Wednesday I’m going dark to protest SOPA/PIPA (must-read if you have no idea what those are), the rest of the week I’m going to be posting creatively-inspiring stuff to get your creative juices going. And I’m calling it #altathome. I hope you’ll join me in being creative and making new bloggy friends, even though we’re not all together at a conference!

What would you like to see me posting about for #altathome? Tutorials? Roundups? Cat videos?