Reflections of a Festival Gone By

I have yammered time and time again on this blog about the trials and tribulations of living a healthy and sane life while dealing with a social anxiety disorder.

I do this because I believe it is an important issue to address. There are tons of people out there who are shy and nervous, and feel like outcasts because of it. Some of these people suffer from debilitating panic attacks and don’t even know why. I just want to give a head’s up that yeah, it happens, but it can be perfectly okay.

I have come a long way from my diagnosis nearly ten years ago. I’ve learned to challenge myself socially waaaay more than I ever thought possible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes still struggle with some these challenges.

Case and point: The Foodbuzz Festival.


I met and talked to a gajillion amazing bloggers over my weekend in San Francisco. But going into it, I was scared shitless.

So many people-filled events were on the schedule. Day after day I found myself lost in crowds, talking to new faces, and trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.

I arrived Thursday excited and ready to take on the city.


That enthusiasm spilled into Friday, where I also met up with my fabulous roommates.


Danica, husband Jay, Elise, Janetha, Holly.

And settled into our presidential suite.



Most certainly nicer than any apartment I’ll ever live in.

Friday night, I was pumped to mingle and meet all the bloggers I’ve been reading for so long. Fuelled by perhaps a little liquid courage ;)


Saturday, I was so excited to try out the long line of tables at the Tasting Pavillion, I hardly noticed the crowds I had to fight through!


But by Saturday evening, I lost steam. I’d have enough of the crowds. I started to feel nervous. My eyes began to dart around the room and my hands trembled. I didn’t want to be there.


I know many people described this as their favourite event of the Foodbuzz Festival, but I just wasn’t into it. For beginners, they only served wine with dinner. I hate wine (like, legitimately, all kinds). So I stayed sober with water.


I will say, the food made up for the lack of drinks.


Golden beet tart. I’ve never thought of pureeing beets as a filling for something. I love beets, and really enjoyed this dish.


Seared scallops with fennel.


These were hands down the best scallops I’ve ever had. Not chewy and overcooked like all my other scallop experiences. Perfectly mild and flaky with a creamy fennel sauce that I loved.


The “meat” of the meal was just meh.


Rosemary infused rack of lamb. I like lamb kebabs or chops. But I do not like giant hunks of lamb. Plus, it was overcooked. In case you haven’t noticed, I prefer my meat on the rare side ;) Bonus points for the sides though – the wild mushrooms and butternut squash puree in this dish were fab.


The most lacklustre part of this meal was… dessert!! I know.


Cake? With fruit? Really? Tarta de Alemandras with oranges. Essentially a tiny round of dry cake with fruit I can get in Canada. Thumbs down. Where’s my Ghirardelli chocolate?


I will say, my anxiety did slightly subside once we were seated. I was sharing a table with fabulous food bloggers after all.


But it took three hours to serve all four dishes, and by the end I just wanted out. No more noise, faces, people to talk to. Just some peace and quiet, and maybe a beer.

I heard many people talk about what they thought of other bloggers while at the festival. Some were a perfect reflection of who they are on their blogs, while others seemed more reserved, or even “stuck up.”

As someone who is at times painfully socially awkward, I often get labelled as being a snob because I can be cold and quiet. It takes a while for me to warm up to people, and even then, I don’t always have something to say. I rather hear what you have to say. That’s why I went into journalism, duh :P

I will give props to Foodbuzz for making the festival as welcoming as possible. Perhaps it’s the foodie nature, but I found the atmosphere to be a lot more relaxed and jovial than my time spent at the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago. Perhaps it’s because it was bigger, or maybe because they served more liquor ;)

My point is, Foodbuzz was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change. But it taught me that I can’t just throw myself into these social situations and expect to completely own them. And I especially can’t beat myself up about it when I don’t. I am who I am and can only try to be the best version of myself I can be. I’m incredibly lucky to have such beautiful people and experiences in my life at all :)


To see some of the festival in live! action! watch Lynn’s stellar video on the weekend below:


My other Foodbuzz Festival/San Francisco recaps:
California Dreamin’
The Bakery That Changed My Life
All Good Things Come To An End
A Food Lover’s Paradise
A West Coast Story
Grateful for Cafe Gratitude

Posted on November 11, 2010, in Lessons Learned and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I hope I didn’t come across as stuck up just because I was on the quieter side. :p It’s hard for me to dive right into a social weekend like that. I am so thankful that there were some familiar faces for me to cling onto for a bit.

    Stupid overcooked lamb – I would’ve rather tried the fish option had I known about it!

  2. I had a similar experience at HLS and that was only 2 nights! :) I agree that some bloggers seem very different than the personality behind their blog…but you bring up a good point that while the whole situation is wonderful and rewarding, we all have our personal limits and boundaries. I’m glad you had a good time – I loved reading your recaps. :)

  3. We are very alike, Susan. I am actually painfully shy in person and get so nervous for group outings. Funny how you (and I) seem so outgoing on the blog itself, but how different it can be in the real world.

    I laughed out loud at the picture of all the bloggers taking pictures LOL! Ah to be somewhere where nobody gives you a sideways look for whipping out the camera :D

    And thank you for saying you don’t like wine! I always feel like I am a bad foodie because I just don’t like it. Give me a good beer any time.

    You should think about going to fitbloggin’ next year, just sayin’

  4. I was painfully shy at the meet-up last Sunday. I hope to meet you soon though. I think we’ll be both okay with each other :) :) :)

  5. Even as an outgoing person I find large conferences quite overwhelming! And it is really interesting to meet bloggers who you feel you “know” through their blog and find that their much different than you expected in person.

    It was great to meet you this past weekend- even if we didn’t get much time to chat. Hopefully next time I will get to hang out with you more! ;)

  6. Great write up. So honest and so real! GREG

  7. I commend you for facing your fears. People often meet me and think I am stuck up too. It’s so frusterating. I am just SHY and sometimes a bit awkward. ;-) I hope I get to meet you someday. I’m pretty sure I’d like you. :-)

  8. i totally understand where you’re coming from! i definitely have found myself on the quiet side at big events like these – esp. towards the end when losing steam! ultimately, it’s funny how we see ourselves vs. what others think – i thought you were such a lovely, charming person and would never have guessed you felt any sort of anxiety.

    thanks for posting my video too!

  9. I’m so glad I’m not the only person my age who genuinely doesn’t like wine!! I’ve tried to like it, just like I’ve tried to like beer (but I won’t talk about that because I know beer holds a special place in your heart!) but it is a taste I cannot seem to acquire.

    Oh and I can attest, Nancy (above) is a lovely girl! :)

    • Haha, when I tell people I don’t like wine they never believe me! “Ohhh, but have you tried suchandsuch kind??” I’ve tried them ALL and every one of them sent shivers down my spine. I’d rather shoot tequila than sip on wine :P

  10. If you liked wine, you would have liked the gala dinner much more!

    I felt shy and awkward there as well and really didn’t introduce myself to very many people. And being there with my Mom was a blessing and a curse. It was great having a wingman but I think it also hindered me from meeting more people. I’m planning a deep reflections post… soon.

  11. You are a brave cookie and I loved your post. I know what you are talking about and good for you for going AND for being yourself.

  12. Susan, I can be super awward in social situations too. When I was younger, I would turn bright red and my voice would sound like I was about to cry. I have gotten better, but meeting lots of new people is always super overwhelming. I am glad you had so much fun. I really think you are awesome and really hope that I get to hang out with you again!

  13. Well, it’s a good thing you went to the Foodbuzz Conference because I found your blog after it was linked in other blogs I read!! I appreciate your honesty, and as others have written, I can relate. At the very heart of me, I am a total introvert. The kicker is that I’m in sales and that actually really helped me because I have learned how to turn on the extrovert. I always need a lot of downtime after being “out there” because I get pretty tired after being “on” and just need to process and hear myself think.

  14. Sus you know I don’t like scallops but while in paris this past year I ordered them by accident and they looked just like what you had at foodbuzz…cooked to perfection and with an amazing cream sauce (only I don’t think there was fennel on mine)…that is the most gorgeous picture ever and now despite my flue I am craving scallops!! xxx

  15. This is such a great blog, Susan! You’re human in every way woman! Congrats on facing your fears enough to go, getting through the times when you just didn’t think you could and coming back all the stronger for it!

  16. I really enjoyed reading this recap. Not only was it a recap, but it was a reflection of your experience and it allowed me to get to know you a litter better.

    i’m so impressed that you did as well as you did! Kudos to you! I can’t wait to meet you someday!

  17. Thank you for sharing this! I always enjoy reading about your experiences with this and love your honesty.

  18. What a great, honest post- and I feel you on a lot of accounts. As bubbly and talkative as I am with a small group, put me in a big group and I don’t know what to do with myself! I think it’s great you’re sharing your experiences, your honesty is refreshing- although I have no idea how you could seem stuck up! :)


  19. So nice to meet you too!! I love when I meet people who have tried my muffins! :) And I would have never guessed you had a social anxiety, you did great girl!!!

  20. Great post! I am extremely socially akward and have been told so many times by friends that when they first met me they thought I was rude or bitchy when in truth I was paralyzed by shyness! How I’ve even managed to make friends is beyond me! lol!

    Of all the blogs I read I think you are one of the people I would feel most at ease with if we were to meet in person!

  21. Hey Susan- I just stumbled across your blog. I suffer from social anxiety disorder too and am also trying to find ways to manage it so I can live my life. It’s amazing that you were able to go to such a large event, meet new people, and deal with it on your terms. I envy you. I hope one day I’ll be able to do things like that.

    Take care,


  22. Social situations like that would be hard! I am generally a very outgoing, talkative person but being around a bunch of people I don’t know/haven’t met before would be nervewracking for me.

    At the same time, the Foodbuzz Festival does sound amazing. I’m hoping to go to either that OR HLS next year :-)

  23. I love this post, Susan, especially for its honesty. It’s refreshing to hear about the good parts and the not-so-great parts instead of everything being rainbows and puppies. :) Oh, and I think you think you come off more shy than you actually do! I thought you were super friendly when I met you!

    • It helped that you’re a pretty easy person to warm up to ;) I’ll probably be doing Foodbuzz or HLS (or both!) again next year too, so we’ll get to see each other again!

  24. I love this post! It was a different and honest opinion on the FB fest! I think people who are shy are so often labeled as “stuck-up,” which is unfortunate because in most cases it’s completely untrue!

  25. what a post! I love your honesty about the whole experience, and i am sure everyone was just as excited/anxious/nervous as you!

    those scallops really do look AMAZING!

  26. Aw I totally get how you felt! I was soooo nervous actually AFTER arriving. Everyone seemed to know each other and no one seemed to know my blog so I felt like I looked “desperate” or something.
    In all honesty, I was jealous of you. I was jealous you already had people to invite you to stay with them, and you and your crew over at danica’s seemed to have this bond I was afraid to impose on. But I love all you girls so I just felt envious that you all had each others company.
    I thought the gala food was “meh”. Those scallops were fantastic, but my lamb was WAY overcooked as well! I actually was kind of hungry by the end of the night.
    But know that I really appreciate you meeting me that first day. The only people I met before were Amanda and Andy and Lynn who all were coming on friday. You just seemed like you were always a friend and I felt safe being with you. I dont know if that makes sense or if it sounds creepy, but it meant a lot that you were so sweet to me.

  27. I have social anxiety too, and got completely got overwhelmed and had some really bad experiences so had a couple of anxiety attacks that kept me in my room and made me blow off the gala dinner and brunch on Sunday.

    Just saying I completely understand, although you handled a whole heck of a lot better than I did. I think having people to hang with arranged beforehand helps. I didn’t know a single soul so was alone all weekend.

  28. what a great job with the video!! Thanks so much for documenting this incredible event! I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to say hello!

  29. I love that you are so open about your social anxiety on your blog. I have suffered with anxiety for four years now, and it is really easy to let it run your life. I have to work to conciously put myself in situations that otherwise might cause me to panic. It would be so easy to stay at home and avoid the trembling, sweaty hands, the pounding heart and the intense desire to flee. But, life is all about living each moment and it’s so important to get out there as much as you can.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration!


  30. I think you did great, I actually would’ve never guessed you had any social anxiety at all because you fit in and had a great time with everyone :)

    I am with you on the thoughts about the meal – the beet tart and scallops – yum, the dessert, bleh. I have the vegan entree which was tasty though.

  1. Pingback: The Food I Brought Home | The Great Balancing Act

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