I wish I could go back in time and tell my graduate student self that, one day, I would actually enjoy coming to this conference. When I first started on this part of the professional path, conferences were tortuous. I didn’t know anyone; I was too unsure of myself to just walk up and talk to people; I didn’t have anyone to smooth the way; I wasn’t sure how I fit into the scheme of things with my own interests and work. Is it any wonder I hated it.
Things got exponentially better when I started at PRU. I was slightly more confident with a PhD in hand. I knew a few more people to provide familiar faces in the hallways. I had colleagues who introduced me to their friends and colleagues. It was like slowly finding my footing on a very slippery surface.
And now, I finally feel like the ice has melted and I’m standing on solid ground. There are people who I look forward to seeing every year, many of whom have become friends. I’ve figured out how my work makes sense in a larger context. I’ve been able to take on administrative and service roles that have help create a space for me.
Perhaps most importantly, I’m comfortable with myself now. I speak up in meetings; I walk up to people first; I question presenters; I reach out to graduate students; I crack jokes. I still have moments of uncertainty and I may never lose the feeling that I don’t quite measure up to my colleagues; that’s just the nature of my personality, I guess. But, in general, I feel like I fit into my professional skin now.