Why I Cancelled SXSW

Allison Nazarian Allison Nazarian, The Life of Allison

No, silly, SXSW (“South by Southwest”) is not cancelled.

Just my SXSW is cancelled.

After much (probably too much) soul-searching, I decided not to join in on the mayhem, the fun, the awesomeness and the good times sure to ensue down in Austin this weekend and beyond.

[Note: This blog post is all about what my friend Joel Kodner would call a “first-world problem.” It’s a non-deal that someone who has everything (i.e., me) made into a big deal. Does it matter in the scheme of the world order? No. Does it compare with anything tragic or even significant out in the world today? No. Is it important to me? Yea, it was. Until I made my decision. And now I am just writing this so that in response to all of the awesome people who tweet and text me this weekend “Where are you?” or “Why didn’t you come to SXSW?” I can simply give them this link instead of explaining the same non-stuff over and over. And trying to do it in 140 characters or less. Capiche?]

Ok so here is the deal/story:

A bunch of my friends — both those with whom I have already shared real-life adventures as well as those I look forward to meeting IRL (in real life) — were/are set to attend SXSW  in Austin, Texas. (If you don’t know what this event is, read about it here. I am so not your Cruise Director Julie McCoy on this one 🙂 ).

I had decided up front that I would not attend. Too much traveling. Contrary to what you may have seen of my many awesome adventures of late, I actually do not like to travel. But what has happened is that traveling is the way I see my friends (too many of whom live too far) and have my fun. I am not someone who needs to go out or travel all the time. I love being home. I feel great at home. And I love being alone, too.

So initially I decided Austin wasn’t in the cards and didn’t consider it much. Even though I knew that “everyone” would be there. I was never someone who had to be where “everyone” was.

But then one day maybe six weeks ago (could be off by a few weeks),  I was on the semi-famous Daily Confessional skype chat with my girls Elizabeth and Sarah. The topic of Austin and SXSW came up and in that moment I really, really wanted to be there with them. I didn’t care about the event or the partying. (I don’t really drink — I’m more of an eater….which I can do in the comfort and privacy of my own home….but that’s a whole other story.)

I am so not an impulsive person. But sometimes I act on what I feel in the moment and trust that it will all come out OK. Or not.

So I decided in the thick of the Daily Confessional to book a flight. Sarah already had a room (all to herself at that point) so I was set. I didn’t even by a pass to any events — I was going for the people, not for the organized events in a convention center or elsewhere.

I recently told my friend Alisha that I don’t go out much, that I am really a homebody who just, every three or so months, travels somewhere to meet up with my friends. So I was excited. To see them and others. To meet some amazing people with whom I have already, though not face-to-face, connected profoundly.

I didn’t think much of it since then. Even with all of the tweets and other “I am so excited for SXSW” messages flying back and forth constantly. I was excited, but not in any way invested (if that makes any sense). It just was.

Then earlier this week, I had some realizations. Unrelated to all of this, but I guess, actually, totally related, to all of this.

I realized that I need to do more for myself. Yes, myself. ME. I need to put myself first sometimes and stop doing what I think other people want or what I think will make me a SuperMom or SuperFriend or SuperHuman. I needed to stop being totally accessible to everyone in my world all the time and be more accessible to myself. Which means I need to be more quiet. And more still. And more aware of how I feel. And say NO when NO is the right answer. And just BE.

Once I had these realizations, after some uncomfortable conversations and big-and-also-uncomfortable realizations about how I am with people in my life, I began to see that SXSW wasn’t something I felt like doing right now. Packing, making arrangements for my dog, getting on a plane, losing two weekdays, sleeping in a hotel and living on Starbucks just didn’t feel good to me right now. It didn’t feel like putting me first.

Once I make a decision, I am generally set on that decision. And I don’t waffle. I don’t like the drama of waffling. I like certainty. But with this one, I just couldn’t decide. I went back and forth all week. And I was annoying myself (and probably others) with the whole thing.

I was concerned about losing $800-ish (turns out I can get a credit on Southwest for the airfare and it seems like someone else is taking the spot I paid for in the hotel room).

I wondered what kind of person that made me if I chose “regular life” over the fun and good times and good friends all in Austin. (For the record, my “regular life” rules. And if it didn’t, I would have some serious issues and some serious change to make.)

I wondered if I was missing out on a professional opportunity that may have come my way in Austin. (Like the guy waiting there, ready to offer me $300K/year to just sit and write and go speak once/month. Yea, him. Dude, if you are reading this, just call me!)

And then yesterday, I just knew. I need to spend this weekend semi-off-the-grid just being quiet and getting what I need. What I need right now, this weekend, is here. It isn’t there. And never being one of those people to have that “I am missing out on all the fun stuff” feeling, I will be OK missing all the fun stuff.

There is way more fun stuff to be had for me and for everyone. And at the end of the day, this event (or any others) really isn’t very important for me AT ALL in the scheme of things. (I have a knack for making the unimportant important. Another blog post.)

So YAY for me – for seeing my bigger picture and not getting caught up in a moment that in this moment doesn’t work for me.

So that is why I cancelled SXSW. It’s my story. Mine alone.

P.S. Thank you, again, to the always-great, sometimes-offensive, not-for-everyone Joel Kodner who asked me “What is SXSW?” when I texted him this morning about this blog post. Perspective, baby. Perspective.