In California, veterinarians are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education every two years. It’s a good requirement, one that forces us to stay on top of the constantly evolving field. And, like in other professions with similar requirements, most of us fulfill those requirements by going to meetings and conferences that get big chunks of that educational requirement taken care of.
My husband is in his company’s business division. Their meetings are racuous, high-falutin’ affairs with dinners in steakhouses, free flowing wine, and headliners. Vets, on the other hand, tend to have conferences in Marriots and the like with taco bars, $1 soda and ‘an evening with Sha Na Na’. I don’t mind. I can skip the taco bar and go buy something edible.
On the other hand, I find attending these conferences somewhat awkward. For various reasons, I almost always end up going by myself instead of with a group of buddies. I’m not the most extroverted person in the bunch, so walking up to a table of 9 people who obviously know one another, plopping down, and jumping on in is right up there with “sticking 18 gauge needles through my cornea” in terms of comfort level.
Talking to someone once we get going isn’t an issue- as you can tell I have more than enough to say- but those introductions are rough. And since this is a group that tends more towards the introspective quiet types than other fields to begin with, finding someone to talk to can be a challenge.
We had a 15 minute bus ride to a location yesterday morning. A lady seated herself gingerly next to me. I smiled. She looked straight ahead. “Nice day,” I offered. She grunted. At that point I pulled out my iphone. I looked around at the sea of faces, but most everyone was tightly enclosed in herds of We Work Together Already or sitting sullenly, staring out the window at the Wal-Mart and watching for something interesting to happen.
On the way back on the same bus, I got stuck next to a woman who answered when I said hello, but the only topic she wanted to spend time on was how much she missed her cats. This is how I ended up in my room at 6 pm watching Julie and Julia (which was decent, BTW.)
I’m used to it by now, having gone to a good many of these. If you’re gregarious, you have no idea what I’m talking about. But if you aren’t, you understand the anxiety of sitting by yourself at the restaurant in a state of Loserville, poking at a plate of cold scrambled eggs and wishing you had someone normal to talk to.
Fortunately this morning, I was first on the bus and was soon joined by an outgoing blond woman who was, like me, on her own. We’re tight now. We’re conference buddies. When we found ourselves in an unfortunately bad lecture where we were supposed to role play (seriously, someone was assigned to play a dog, and someone else the veterinarian) we guffawed and made incredulous noises at similar volumes. We tag-teamed the vendor show so as to maximize our accumulation of free stuff. We hit the karaoke bar at the hotel after the conference (sadly, the play list was already full and we were never given the opportunity to inquire about our preferences: “Borderline” or “Single Ladies”.)
In retrospect, the fact that I did not sing “Single Ladies” in public is quite possibly the best thing to happen all week. Second best thing though is meeting someone whose sense of humor is the same as yours. It makes the time go by a lot faster.
I don’t know – a recording of you singing “Single Ladies” could potentially mean big donations to the shelter during the next blogathon :p
Glad you found a buddy. I get what you mean. While you are perfectly okay watching movies in your room (I liked Julia’s part of the story more than Julie’s, BTW), time does go by much faster if you have a kindred spirit to enjoy the time with in and out of the conference.
I completely feel your pain. I too have dined at Loserville – table of one at a number of conferences. Luckily, mine are only 2-3 days and not tied to an CEUs.
I second a rendition of Single Ladies for your next blogathon a recording? Nah, we’re going to need to see some video of that. 😉
Hi Dr. V,
I have to admit, I am one of the gregarious type plus I am a people watcher. I am perfectly happy keeping to myself, but sometimes it is fun to pick someone out of the crowd and zoom in. Sometimes I deliberately pick someone who looks lost or uncomfortable. Who better than me to befriend a lost soul and introduce her to others! Then again, sometimes I pick one of the speakers or an outgoing attendee. Mostly, I watch people. Soooo much fun! I could write a book!
I agree with Kim. A recording of you singing would definitely bring in additional money for your next blogatnon! Thanks for all you do!
I’m generally pretty quiet, I keep to myself, and I prefer to watch from the sidelines. I wouldn’t even talk to people until I was 7 years old, I used to hide behind my mom when someone addressed me. Now, I find myself more comfortable with starting conversations with strangers, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as outgoing as my mom. She can make even the most grumpy person spill their life stories for her.
That said, I know exactly what you mean about the anxiety. I generally take something with me so I can keep my mind off of things, a book, my DS, my iPod… Or sometimes I just jump right into the thick of things. It depends on how I feel. I used to be quite the popular class clown, people were drawn to my humour and confidence. Sadly, I lost much of that after my accident. I’ve been trying to get it back, a bit at a time, it’s an ongoing process.
Karaoke sounds fun, you should get a video!
You know me. I know your pain very well. Actually, it’s nice to read an account of someone who else who experiences those feelings. It makes me feel all the less awkward for being who I am. 🙂
Lisa W says
So I’m not the only deer in the headlights when it comes to chit-chat with a bunch of people I don’t know? Whew!
You nailed it again – I totally get this post. Save me a seat if we are ever at the same conference. 😉