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I Met the Pope and My Husband was Inducted Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

What a week!!!

First, I got to meet the Pope, and he was kind enough to take a selfie with me. Check it out!!

Amyandthepope

Then, my incredible husband was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What an honor!

jasonfootballhalloffame

What? Not buying it?

The truth is that earlier this week I attended an event in the White House – yes, that White House – titled A Conversation on the Health of our Nation’s Children. I was one of 150 bloggers who attended after receiving an invitation via such online platforms as Babble, Cafe Mom, Pop Sugar, The Stir, and BlogHer. Based on the size of the list included in the emails I received as well as from chatting with other friends invited, we pieced together that the online media event would include about 120 attendees or so. The nature of the invitation was crystal clear from the beginning:

Subject: White House Lets Move! Press Event

“Michelle Obama’s team has asked me to assist them in inviting some influencers in the blogging community to an event taking place at the White House on March 15.”

What’s my point?

My point is that I knew FLOTUS hadn’t personally selected me to stop by the White House for a cup of tea. I was selected by a media organization to attend a media event at the White House.

WHICH IS AWESOME.

ALL. BY. ITSELF.

I have experienced some absolutely incredible opportunities over my eight years of blogging, but being invited to a press event at the White House easily rocketed into the top of that list. Being selected to represent myself, my blog, and the inviting blog (THANK YOU, Cafe Mom!) was and is an amazing honor, and attending this week’s event is a memory I will cherish.

I mean, look at this. I GOT TO PEE IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

White House bathroom selfie with Amy Oztan from Selfish Mom

White House bathroom selfie with Amy Oztan from Selfish Mom

But a funny thing happened when the emails went out. I began to hear about other bloggers announcing their invitations on social media, because of course (the WHITE HOUSE, ya’ll!!!!), but some were describing it somewhat…differently.

I took a look around:

“I was asked by Michelle Obama to take part in a conversation with her about the health of America’s children. I can’t wait to meet her!!”

“I can’t decide what to wear for my selfie with Michelle Obama!”

And my personal favorite…

“I’ve been asked to participate in a blogger round table and will be discussing childhood nutrition with Michelle Obama. This won’t be my first time meeting a First Lady, but I’m excited to be included.”

bishwhat

Stop. Can we just stop? 

Bloggers, why do we do this? Why take the absolutely awesome on its own truth and inflate it, making it something it is decidedly not? While some of your audience may not realize that you aren’t being truthful, the rest of us see you very clearly.

And quite frankly, we’ve had enough of your nonsense.

throneoflies

Over the last week or so an interesting conversation began to emerge among my blogger pals about this phenomenon of taking the truth and blowing it up to something no longer even resembling fact, turning the online world into a maze of smoke and mirrors. As one blogger so poignantly put it,

“It’s like I’m running a race, and everyone else is cheating. How will I ever know how I’m doing?”

Blogger friends, I’m here to tell you that the sky’s the limit for you. There is nothing that you can’t do. This is America, my friends. Run your race! However, if your blogger bucket list involves being personally invited by one of the most popular First Ladies in the history of our nation to sit down at a table and discuss the health of our nation one on one all based on your online presence, then you are at risk for disappointment thanks to the high bar set by people straight up lying to you.

Here’s what really went down this week:

  • About 150 accomplished and unbelievably fortunate members of the online media, as well as traditional media outlets and related industry professionals, converged on Washington, D.C. on their own dime to attend a no-compensation-provided-period-end-of-story press event.
  • The press event took place in the East Wing of the White House and guests were allowed to walk through a number of rooms before assembling in the East Room for a two to three hour event.
  • Ten speakers presented information about a variety of topics including USDA nutrition policies and programs.
  • The morning concluded with remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama and the opportunity for visitors to walk through the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn.

It was an experience of a lifetime, one “pinch me I’m dreaming” moment after another. 

Bloggers, let what you are be enough. Allow your accomplishments to stand proudly on their own with no need to fluff, embellish, or fabricate.

You know, I keep hearing on the radio and reading in articles that Americans today struggle to be happy with their lives because of social media. The reason I hear over and over is that we’re all comparing someone else’s highlight reel to our every day. 

Let’s stop making this problem worse by replacing the highlight reel of our lives with fiction.

Choose to be enough.

 

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Comments

  1. 28

    Thank you for saying this! I had to regretfully decline and though it stung, as I read all of the status updates about “meeting the FLOTUS” I had to go back and read the email as if I missed something. haha. My husband was like “No way you’ll be taking pictures with her.” Not that it makes it any less amazing, but a round-table is definitely different than a press event. This post was so needed for our industry!
    Jennifer recently posted..We’re on Spring Break!

    • 29

      To be fair, some Cafemom mom staffer did indeed get to meet her and have photo opps. That was true. In fact all the CafeMom people were called out into the lobby for photo opp in a miscommunication.

      That is what I take away from this. It was VERY LAST MINUTE. Different groups were being told different things and there was a lot of miscommunication.

      Heck someone told me before I left that we might get to actually tour gardens with Michelle.

      I just went with it and had a fabulous time. Luckily got a front table center so was literally 10 feet from our gorgeous first lady. Pretty sure we made eye contact at least twice and are now besties!!! Hahahah. JOKING!!!

      • 30

        Yes, I was with you on all of those Cafe Mom emails so I definitely know what a bummer it was to be told in the hallway that the meet and greet was just for staffers. But that happened at the event. What I’m talking about is the flat out lying prior to the event despite how clear the communication to us was. Even the garden information didn’t include the words “with Michelle.” This was the exact wording (cut and pasted): “Weather permitting, we plan to visit the White House Kitchen Garden at the end of the event, which includes walking on grass on part of the South Lawn.” I’m very grateful that we got to do that!

        • 31

          Yes, loved the garden photo opps. To be clear, I was told maybe Michelle was coming with us via fb message from a blogger that heard it from another blogger, not from cafemom email. Hahah! I think there was just a buuuuuuunch of excitement and it became a game of telephone over what exactly to expect at the event. I do believe sending us all an agenda beforehand would have gone a LONG WAY. It could be that some of the bigger vloggers — not with any of those media groups you mentioned in the post — got some opportunities that other hoped would be for everyone?? Anyway, as I said, haven’t seen the “lying” posts you mention, but still want to give people the benefit of the doubt that prior to the event, there was much confusion. I know I spoke to a couple bloggers that they thought it was going to be a much smaller affair. Either way, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’ve love the focus to be on the message because it is a good one. :)

          • 32

            You need new sources, girl!!!!!! 😀

          • 33

            Oh! And you’ve got to read my post about the actual event – all positive! I thought it was amazing. I actually think this post is a positive message – we need to be satisfied, grateful, enough :)

      • 34

        True, my husband told me there was no way *I* would be taking pictures with her. haha. This was just my husband being his usual grumpy bubble-popping self 😉

        Loved following the event! It looked so amazing, and like a wonderful opportunity and mission.

        Ironically I wound up seeing her the next day in Austin. No selfies then either.
        Jennifer recently posted..We’re on Spring Break!

  2. 35

    I definitely thought it was a very small group of bloggers, invited BY the White House to attend a very intimate event. Then I saw the pictures and was like “wait…what?” However, like you said, still a wonderful experience!!!!
    Sarah B recently posted..Rustic Moss Easter Wreath

  3. 37

    Thank you Amy! Think about it, in 2008 how many of the attendees would have even dreamed of being attending a press event? What in awesome world with live in! However, as with any leadership position, with access comes responsibility to your followers. Thanks again for a great post!
    Kelly Tirman recently posted..Five Modern Favorites

  4. 38

    Amy,

    Almost my entire life revolves, for better or for worse, around “incidental.”

    in·ci·den·tal
    ˌinsəˈden(t)l/
    adjective
    1.
    accompanying but not a major part of something.

    I could write a book about why this is so significant to me, but – no. It might not be the way life works for others, but it’s my life, to a T! Yet, I make things happen. I am deliberate in my actions.

    Some amazing bloggers worked hard to build relationships with some amazing networks. #LetsMove wanted to host a media event. Rather than trying to find and vet 150 Bloggers, #letsmove contacted some networks. Incidentally, some of the above-mentioned amazing bloggers from those networks were invited to attend the event. That’s exciting! It’s worth shouting-out.

    While there are sure to be people who turn details of opportunities into straight lies, I believe most people just feel excited that “they worked so hard for this….” Except, the “this” was never a part of the deal anyway. They work hard and even more opportunities come from that, incidentally. Remembering this helps us stay humble and hard-working, because we never know what other opportunities may come from that work. Opportunities we were not specifically targeting.

    I thank you so much for writing this! This reminds me of when I became a HuffPost contributor. I know there were people who didn’t feel happy for me. I felt SO happy – but I confessed the truth – the whole truth, because worse than the people who weren’t happy, were the people who treated me like I’d ACCOMPLISHED something amazing. I did’t do anything more special than anyone else who wants to write for them. I couldn’t handle any pretending that I had. I attended BlogHer15. AH was speaking and said the Bloggers could email her. So, I did. And anyone there could have heard the same words and done the same thing.

    Sorry for all the rambling, but this spoke to me, so much!
    Alicia Gonzalez recently posted..Xfinity ® X1 Tiene Todo En Tu Idioma: It’s In Your Language!

  5. 39

    Shoot – P.S. That last comment was LONG, and I don’t have any need for you to publish it. I just wanted you to know it. You did a good thing, writing this!

    Alicia

  6. 40

    Hmmm so I think I need to catch up with the #letsmove posts because I haven’t seen any exaggeration. I did read a whole lot of tongue in cheek and outright snarky humor in some of the excited messages. I am pretty sure anyone mentioning selfies with Michelle were in fun?! I hope no one took my offer to let my new bestie Michelle borrow a cup of flour since I was staying across the street, as anything but it what it was…a joke?? Hehe! Sometimes humor doesn’t come through as strongly to some as it is intended.

    And to be fair? The posts before the event could have been because of miscommunication. I was called out to actually go meet with Michelle and all the other CafeMom bloggers for a photo opp only to get to lobby and the CafeMom editors say… “So sorry, I made a mistake and the meet greet pic opportunity was only for staffers.” Thank goodness I didn’t post then before finding out it was a false alarm, eh? That said, it is my understanding that some bloggers and staffer did actually get to meet Michelle. :)

    Also, since this was so last minute, until I got there, I had no idea what to expect. As I read the first email? An intimate gathering came to mind since the word “conversation” was used with an email list of 14-15 from CafeMom rather than 150 bloggers in a room at a press event that it turned out to be. Shrug. Either way was awesome indeed, but I can see how some bloggers could have been confused in their pre-event posts.

    Here is how I relayed the event on social media:

    “So I’ve been holding onto a secret until I could make sure I could make it, but my calendar IS cleared & flights are booked, so I can let the cat outta the bag:

    I might have gotten a special little email in my inbox last week…inviting little ME to the White House!! YES THAT WHITE HOUSE!!! Squeeeee!

    “First Lady Michelle Obama invites you to a conversation about the health of our nation’s kids to be held at the White House.

    Over the last six years, impactful progress has been achieved due to programs, partnerships, and policies implemented as a part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to help kids and families lead healthier lives. The event will consist of remarks by Mrs. Obama and Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition, along with other Administration officials. We hope you’ll share your visit and the conversation with your followers online and through your digital and social media channels. Throughout the visit, we encourage you to take photos and videos.”

    HOLY HOLY CRAP, Y’all. I get to see our FIRST LADY next week…and I have no idea what to wear!! Hehehe!!

    http://www.letsmove.gov/ ‪#‎LetsMove‬ FLOTUS Michelle Obama”

    I guess it’s good I said I get to see rather than meet? Looking at those exact words verbatim from the invite? I can see some bloggers been confused about what the event would be like since different media group were communicating a last minute event…well differently.

    Case in point: We were told to wear appropriate shoes since we would be wandering the gardens. Other bloggers showed up spikes for heels and aerated the lawn and garden and said they wished they knew about tour. One blogger–not cafemom–messaged me the night before asking what we had heard about dress because she had heard nothing from her group. I told her CafeMom said business casual. Some ladies showed up in suits and sparkly jewelry and I saw some really casual outfits too. I heard from some ladies before the event that Michelle would be with us in the gardens.Again lots of miscommunication just because of the last minute nature of the invite.

    I just hope we can give all these influencers a little slack at being FREAKING excited to be in the White House and to be in the same room as Michelle Obama. I would hope none of them exaggerated on purpose because I agree no exaggeration was needed, but I also hope we don’t take all the selfie jokes as intended to mislead the public on social media.

    I will say reading this post made me go back and pour over all my posts hoping I didn’t give off the wrong impression. Pretty sure I am safe…fashew! I will say it sucks that such a fun, once in a lifetime event feels a bit dampened now and it takes away from the First Lady’s empowering message to use our influence to inspire.

    ~Heather @scoutshonor / @unitedstatesofmotherhood

    • 41

      It sounds from your multiple comments like you’re taking this very personally, but since I didn’t see anything you wrote before the event, I can assure you this wasn’t about you. Does that help you?

      • 42

        Oh not taking it personally at all!! I guess I am a mother hen protective type and just want to think any unintentional exaggeration on any posts from bloggers were from excitement or miscommunication rather than that they are self-aggrandizing or lying on purpose. And I tend to be wordy. Heh!

  7. 44

    This is such a great article and I truly love and appreciate your honesty. As a more of a newbie blogger it is so hard not to look around and be in awe of what some others are doing (or say that they are doing). I love that you shared the real deal with us!
    Clarissa recently posted..Why You Should NEVER EVER Visit Disney World 

  8. 45

    Your post just took an enormous weight off my shoulders! Thank you for being AMAZING, sharing your killer cool trip, and being so transparent. :)

  9. 46

    Bravo Amy. Bravo.
    Sami Cone recently posted..Weekend Top Retail Coupon Round-Up March 18, 2016

  10. 47

    Thank you Amy. I take away something even bigger than bloggers trying to one-up each other’s opportunities.

    Bragging and exaggerating is a turnoff for readers, and it overshadows the message of the brand we represent.

    I think our focus should be on what an event can bring to our readers rather than the personal benefits we receive.

  11. 48

    Great post Amy. I think most people see this behavior for what it’s worth. What bothers me (not the White House event) is that bloggers give so much away for free. The real winners are the brands/agencies hosting and inviting bloggers to events where they can snap one of dozens of pictures with a celeb that you will see in your timeline all day long. The blogger’s experience is discounted by their audience and the brand is the winner. They’re getting tons of free buzz with the pre and post event “OMG’s”. So many of these opportunities are non-paid with travel expenses on the blogger’s dime. I also think that many emails make the events feel much more exclusive than they really are and therefore exploit our peers.

    • 49

      You are 100% right. There are very few “opportunities” that I’ll participate in for the very reasons you’ve listed, and then when I participate, I understand that the event isn’t for me, it’s for the brand. Going into the event knowing that keeps me grounded in what I think is an accurate and healthy perspective and, hopefully, keeps me from joining in exaggeration. I was happy and honored to promote the Let’s Go! message, which is a message I believe in. But yeah, I knew that was the ask and what I committed to doing by attending the event. In this rare case it was an honor and a pleasure so the cost/benefit analysis still worked out in my favor :)

  12. 51

    Adore this article and the “Bish What” meme had me rolling! Well articulated Amy!

    I especially appreciate that you brought up the fact that many (maybe even most) trips are not all expenses paid and the blogger is often paying for travel along with other expenses. Had a (newbie) blogging friend who was shocked to find that many travel writers (not just bloggers) often pay their own transportation. And as the nature of the beast goes, no trip is really free anyway, is it? There’s always the expense of time away from family and work and the work involved after.

    It’s not something we often see discussed and can be very misleading. Thanks for bringing to the light that the grass isn’t nearly as green as some may think it is or profess it to be.

  13. 52

    LOVE this article!!!

  14. 53

    Amy, I couldn’t love this post more. I saw exactly what you are talking about going down my feed. People were making it out like they were having an intimate lunch with Michelle Obama. I even saw people soliciting questions they should ask her during their time together.

    I only saw one person mention that they’d had to pay their own way.

    I deeply appreciate you bringing a fresh breath of honesty to the game. I entered blogging with wide eyes and a stupid head. I left professional blogging the sadder but wiser girl. While I did have a whole bunches of fun, got to do some amazing stuff, and I did make a bit of money, it really was nothing more for me than an expensive hobby. It’s easy to make it all seem fat more glamorous than it really is. Your honesty is refreshing.

  15. 54

    I enjoyed your writeup very much, Amy. Thank you for setting the record straight.

  16. 55

    This was hilarious, truthful, and delicious all at the same time. That said, thank you. I needed this today. <

  17. 56

    Thank you for sharing! I agree 100% it is frustrating to me mostly because I have to explain the ‘reality’ of these events they are reading about to non-bloggers who don’t realize how much comes out of your own pocket, how you are packed like sardines (sometimes) into an event just because they want soo many people covering it, etc.
    I was literally LOL – thanks for that, especially on a Monday!

  18. 57

    Oh my I remember this day. My instagram feed was loaded of bloggers posting. I almost unfollowed a lot because of the amount of photos for this. It is nice to hear what really happened there.

  19. 58

    Glad you got to go and had a good time! I totally agree though that some people on social media really know how to exaggerate things. I saw a few posts from different people about it go by on my feeds and rolled my eyes seeing right through their rouse. They made it seem like it was going to be literally just them and the First Lady having tea and solving the worlds problems, because didn’t you know _____ *insert blogging exaggerator here*____ is the worlds most renown expert on nutrition and overweight children!?!?!?
    Erin McAllister recently posted..Beau Black – Here Comes the Lion Guard #MusicMonday #DisneyJr #LionGuard

  20. 59

    RUSE not rouse! Stupid phone.
    Erin McAllister recently posted..Beau Black – Here Comes the Lion Guard #MusicMonday #DisneyJr #LionGuard

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