because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Permission

superlatively rude
“I mean… wouldn’t it be cool to just hang out with everyone? Like, all at once?” one of us said.
The other replied: “What, like a Twitter-Meet?”
“Yeah,” one of us continued, “But like… not in a pub, and not shit.”
The other one said: “But also, not some wanky media thing where it’s all about who you know and how many followers you’ve got, and wearing a name badge.”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah!”

*

What I reckon is more true than any other truism, is that you’ve got to give yourself permission. That’s how this happened. We decided, sod it. We’ll build our own opportunities. Because you can want something, know you’re worthy of it – that you’d excel at it – but nobody will ever come and tap you on the shoulder to tell you it’s your turn. That actually, yes, you'd be really good at hosting a panel discussion at a women's event. That they've been waiting for you. 

One of my favourite quotes is the one about having the confidence of a mediocre white man. It can be so hard to do, to say “I deserve this”. “I can do this”. “I am allowed to want this”. I like that there's power in numbers. That doing it with a mate makes you braver. More like that bloke who doesn't worry about what other people think.

*

It snowballed, that afternoon in the cafĂ© on Stoke Newington Church Street, just before Christmas, both us of us getting wide-eyed and ramble-y and talking over the top of one another. You know what it’s like: one person adds a spark of excitement, and then the other does, and before you know it you’re writing down titles on the new page of a notebook and ordering another cappuccino because maybe, just maybe, there’s something in this. How can there not be when your heart is beating that way?

*

“If we did it – if we threw an event – it’d be dead normal and grounded and nobody would feel not good enough or like an impostor.”
“Feeling like an impostor at an event you’ve paid money to get a ticket for is the worst.”
“I really think that the people who read our blogs and who we Tweet with are our kind of people, you know? And our kind of people want what we want: booze and a chat and other women who like boozing and chatting.”
“Do you think people would come?”
“So what if they don’t? We’d be there, and so we’ll pour a glass and talk away – even if it is only to each other.”
“I’ve got butterflies.”
“Me too.”

*

I’m a girl from Derby co-hosting an event at the headquarters of one of the world’s biggest tech companies, and my agent and my publisher asked me to save them a ticket and my mate's agent and my mate's publisher asked her to save them tickets, and how is this real life? How did it get to be that that’s a sentence I could type? That I get to be this person, and have this other person be my friend?

*

We looked at venues and wondered about pricing and I don’t know who suggested it but it came up that don’t get, don’t ask. And so we asked. And we got. Twitter UK said “This sounds great! Sure! Host it here!” We asked if they’d provide refreshments. They said yes to that, too. 

*

Sat at her kitchen table, later, once we decided, yes, let's do this, we said, right. We need to get a domain. And design a logo. And a site. And get an email address…?

The list got longer. Organise an event page. Figure out how to charge people, what to do with the money, how much to pay the people we want to feature with us. Who will feature with us? How do we automate a welcome email? Follow-up emails?

The answer to almost everything is, apparently, that we learn by doing. The high-five we gave each other before the day was out was the kind of high five that meant: holy shit, we’ve got chutzpah. And smarts, too. There’s no confidence quite like the confidence of teaching yourself that you’re better than you thought you were. 

And the confidence that comes with figuring out for yourself how to code that bastard email opt-in banner.

*

The event is called IRL Panel, and we decided to tag it “a live panel event hosted by women off the internet.” Because that’s how we met, Emma and I. Online. I stalked her for months and months before she knew who I was, and then we finally met offline and there was no going back. We spoke the same language. Wanted similar things in a spookily similar way, but had enough room in what we wanted to not be competitive about it. We suspect that meeting other women the same way - taking online relationships offline - will yield the same result: excitement. Awe. Discussion. Better-ness.

It’s on Thursday February 18th and will be, we hope, one of many. Each one will have a theme. A talking point. The talking point for the launch is “permission”, because that’s what the whole shebang was born from: permitting ourselves to say, sod it. We’ll build the kind of event we want to go to. It’s scary, and it’s liberating, and exactly the kind of thing I can't wait to chat about. You should come. Emma and I can't wait to raise a glass with you.

(Tickets are £15 and go on sale at 9am Monday 1st February. Come! We're so very excited.)

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