My relationship with conferences has always been something of a love/hate affair. It used to be that I lapped up every opportunity to go to an event that could show me new things, teach me new ways of thinking and introduce me to new people. I loved 'networking' (why do I hate that word so much when it's such an important and useful thing to do?!) and taking my ideas back to the workplace.
Then, something changed and I began to feel disenchanted, demoralised, sometimes even depressed, as I listened to people talk passionately about things that I too was talking passionately about in the workplace. Why would that make me depressed, I hear you cry? Well, it didn't happen straightaway. It wasn't the first, or even the second or third time that I listened to like-minded people saying sensible things that tipped the balance for me. It was probably the fourth, fifth and sixth time. I just never seemed to be getting anywhere and good ideas just weren't turning into great outcomes.
So it was with some trepidation that I found myself en route to the annual UCISA Support Services Conference yesterday morning. Would I love it, or would I hate it?
Well, I confess that the relationship did not start out well. I was definitely having a glass-half-empty kind of day and the more I listened to people say perfectly sensible and thoughtful things the more I thought "I've got to get out of this game and do something else before I go mad." Then came today and that glass of mine most definitely filled to the brim and - dare I say - flowed over. (this is where people who know me gasp in shock at my uncharacteristic display of positivity and optimism!)
Today we sat and listened to people who had not only aspired to do things differently and better but, most importantly, had achieved it. I'm not saying that I agree with everything that was said, nor that I don't still feel a lingering sense of frustration that I'm not in a position to effect some of the change I'd like to see, however......
..... I have recaptured that feeling that old me used to have. The one where you swallow down the nerves and go and talk to anyone who looks vaguely friendly, just because you want to talk and share ideas and experiences. The one where you're so inspired by what you're hearing that you almost can't concentrate on the presentation because you have so many ideas you want to jot down.
So, thank you @heloukee, @maffrigby, @briankelly and #ussc12 for the inspiration. You have provided the relationship counselling that I needed and me and conferences are now blissfully happy together again (for now anyway...)