Reflecting on NASPA 2013

The NASPA 2013 Annual Conference in Orlando was my first big NASPA conference and I wanted to be intentional about my experience & learning.  I set a number of goals and upon reflection realized that I exceeded my own expectations for this experience – and I didn’t even go to Disney! For the first time when leaving a conference, I felt that I was leaving people, friends, I truly care about. This conference had a substantial impact personally and professionally.

My first goal was to get in the arena. This is a reference to Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown which I have read as a part of the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. This goal was about reaching out, building and starting relationships, and not letting my inner critic deter me from remarkable interactions. Looking back, I surprised myself. Wine, lunch, and the pool became more than places and food, but opportunities soaked with rich dialogue about life goals, concepts of shame, the direction of student affairs, hilarious stories, interactions that made me laugh so hard my sides hurt, and even interactions that made me tear up because I was so overwhelmed with the beauty and brilliance of the people I was interacting with. One of my interactions ended with someone saying to me, “Talking to you has made my soul happy.” People say these things and mean them. And the only thing more powerful and amazing than the words of affirmation are the women speaking them. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I opened myself up – allowed myself to feel a bit vulnerable – and was overcome with powerful & empowering experiences.

Charlie Brown Photo

My second goal was to maintain some semblance of balance while at NASPA. Typically at conferences, I go overboard, attend every session and never take a break or rest. Originally, when I wrote this goal I had working out and making time for reading in mind. Reading was not a priority but running, cycling, and swimming served as great exercise. I also spent a good amount of time poolside. Thank you Orlando!

The third goal I had for the NASPA 2013 Annual Conference was growth. Again, in this area, I got more than I anticipated or ever could have asked. Growth occurred personally and professionally. Sessions attended broadened my perspective on how assessment work can be accomplished and data can be shared and utilized. Personally, I experienced a tremendous amount of growth. This is largely attributed to the conversations I had with so many insightful women. Frankly, it’s taken me this long to write about the conference because I’m still reflecting and synthesizing. One conversation in particular about Daring Greatly and concepts of shame compelled me to come home and write five pages of notes that I am still working up the courage to share.

Finally, I wanted to give back at NASPA13. I did this through countless interviews at TPE, sharing knowledge, ideas, and inspirations, presenting, tweeting on the #NASPA13 backchannel, being my authentic self, and sharing reflections.

I would love to hear what you learned & read your reflections. Let’s connect & share.

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