NASPA 2013: Goals for Gremlins, Growth, & Giving Back

For the first time this year, I am attending the NASPA Annual Conference. I usually go to ACPA, but after some urging from professionals that I trust and some very positive experiences, I am Orlando-bound. Focus, Restorative, Discipline, Learner, and Consistency are my strengths and in line with this, I want to be intentional about my conference experience.  What follows is a list of my conference season goals & a plan for obtaining them.

Get in the Arena: As a part of my #30before30 goals, I am reading 52 books in 52 weeks. At the encouragement of Lisa Endersby (@lmendersby ) and Melissa Robertson (@melpels), Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead Connection by Brené Brown is the book my nose is currently buried in. Brené Brown talks about “being in the area” in the context of showing up, being our authentic selves, and being present in all situations – especially the ones where we may be vulnerable. I am a competent and engaging presenter. I do not feel vulnerable when I present, where I clam up and withdrawal is one on one. This is especially difficult when I think highly of someone, or recognize the importance & value of a particular situation.  What Brené Brown would call my “gremlins” fire up. My inner critic speaks out and I get flooded with self-doubting questions and comments. “Shit, what am I going to talk about?” “What if I don’t live up to expectations?” “What if I say something stupid?” “What the hell do I do after this conversation to stay in touch with this wonderful person?!” These are just a few examples. This year, gremlins be damned, I’m getting in the arena and I’m not bothering to armor up. Left & right, I’m reaching out to amazing people that I want to get to know better and meet face to face for the first, second, or countless time. Usually, I am not a hugger (see strengths above…), but I might not be able to contain my joy.

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Balance: Attending every possible session, packing the schedule with meetings & reconnecting, and spending any other time on preparing presentations is usually my conference norm. At the end, my “I” is wiped out, my “E” is tapped out, and I need a two week vacation with some serious quality puppy & Evan time to recover. This time, I want to take a more balanced approach. I will be assisting with TPE, attending a pre-conference workshop and NAPSA. I need to remind myself that attending this conference is one piece of my bigger picture. I don’t want to take a week off from things that are important to me (reading for #52in52, working out, prayer, practicing resilience, etc.) but do want to focus on the connections that can be made and maintained from the experience. Making time to work out, connect, refuel my “I”, and reflect will be a critical part of maintaining balance this year.

Growth: Growth comes in many forms. Attending conference presentations feeds my learner strength, inspires creativity, and reminds me why I’m so proud to be in this field. I am eager to attend presentations on assessment, publishing in journals, pursuing a Ph.D, First Generation College Students, intersecting identities, and more. Meeting role models and mentors who challenge preexisting frameworks and my perspective, empower, encourage, and push me to consider and pursue my goals will be a tremendous source of growth. I am the most excited for this part of the conference.

Give Back: Attending this conference is a privilege and in an effort to pay it forward, I want to give back through sharing knowledge, ideas, and inspirations. A few ways I can do this are presenting, tweeting on the #NASPA13 backchannel, and sharing reflections.

I would love to hear what you hope to learn by attending conferences. Let’s connect & share.

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