Beautifully Exhausted

SBC picI was in the sky somewhere over Mississippi when a full body jerk brought my eyes back to attention. I realized I was holding something in my hands.

I had fallen asleep while opening the complimentary bag of pretzels.

That level of exhaustion can be caused by a few things—consecutive nights’ discussions on the status of the relationship, reading the comments section of anything on the internet, being exposed to creative feedback from a non-creative.

For me, it was caused by Summer Brand Camp. And it was beautiful.

Four days in Dallas at the most powerful conference I’ve ever attended, surrounded by ideas, meaning, purpose and a good deal of alcohol tends to leave the head spinning on a ride that makes you want to get back in line so you can ride it again.

The alarm that woke me on Wednesday morning—the second day of Summer Brand Camp—did not originate from my phone. It came from the sudden realization that I didn’t have my backpack.

The contents of my backpack consisted of camera equipment, a new laptop, every charger I own, my favorite sunglasses, and two packs of gum (spearmint, if you’re interested). These items were not things I was looking forward to replacing.

But the prized possessions in my backpack would not have interested any thieves. The prized possessions in my backpack were the business cards that had been placed in my hands by the people I’d met the previous evening, a meaningful stack of paper that would continue to grow over the next two days.

That’s why the exhaustion was beautiful. It was caused by being surrounded by the amazing people who attend Summer Brand Camp.

From first-time meetings with people to whom I’ve been connected online for years to making sure first-timers were getting the most out of the experience, from reunions with my beloved team to the it’s-so-good-to-see-you-again embraces with other Summer Brand Camp alums, it’s the people who make this event what it is.

The speakers open your eyes to new ways of acting. The work labs bring you together with others whose jobs resemble your own. The community service project reminds you there’s more to life than the next meeting. The evening events give you the chance to fulfill the promises of, “Let’s talk later.”

And then, there’s Summer Brand Camp after hours.

It’s in those hours when you forget what time it is, when you forget what time you have to wake up in the morning, when you forget to bring your backpack back to your room. The captivating one-on-one conversations while surrounded by (somewhat) organized chaos remind you of what matters, and I’m a sucker for that.

Summer Brand Campers, if you think this post might be about you, that’s because it is.

I hope you were as beautifully exhausted as I was.

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