By Jade Velasquez, LVT
I recently attended the Uncharted Veterinary Conference and I was curious to see what all the hype was about. I knew there would be great lectures and good people. But I didn’t quite realize just how life changing it would be. I walked in and thought I entered “conference life”; a world where there is little sleep, lots of learning and way too much networking. Conference life is a place that leaves me drained when I come home. I am tired, my mind is overwhelmed and thinking of all the ways I can implement the things I have learned. Many of them don’t come to fruition. But I was wrong. I did not enter conference life. I came home.
There wasn’t much sleep, but it was because I was so sucked into experiencing every single last minute. I learned so much, and not just from people who managed to get on a speaking track. It was from forward thinkers and lecturers who somehow knew everything that had been on my mind my entire veterinary career. It was from my equals. My equals who took the courage to step up and embrace every person in the audience, not with just knowledge or words; but with their heart. They spoke to you as an equal and a friend. They taught you with kindness and compassion. But above all they connected with us. They connected with me.
Then there were the attendees of the Uncharted Conference. They had often referred to themselves as “The Tribe”. That concept mystified me and the cynic in me thought it was likely highly overrated. I mean, sure, we all like the same stuff, right? Wrong. We all like different things. But we came to Uncharted with the intent of being authentic, vulnerable and be able to share our true selves. There has been nowhere else in the world I have seen this happen. The attendees encouraged, shared viewpoints, had discussions that lasted into the wee hours of the night and embraced every single person they interacted with.
I, myself, have always been shy, aloof and introverted. I work with clients, staff and even friends in a way that is almost deceiving. I have become a chameleon and adjusted myself to every interaction and circumstance. And they have all bought it so far! But I very rarely ever was genuine. I very rarely have ever been myself. I have been parts of myself, but never whole. I have felt out of place, too much or too little. I felt like that puzzle who was waiting on the piece that had long ago been sucked up by the vacuum. I was almost whole. Not quite.
When I came to Uncharted, I could be my true self. And people loved it and accepted me as I am. They respected my awkwardness, supported me when I started to doubt myself, coached me to be me. The me that I had been all along. I became vulnerable, pushed myself and had connections with people that I never imagined. I could be rough around the edges and no one thought that was wrong. They just thought it was me and that was enough. It was more than enough.
Now I bring back to my clinic the sense of being transparent, vulnerable and real. I bring tools to help me succeed in that journey and a group of people to talk me through navigating it. I came back whole, and I will give others that blessing. Finding myself has been a work in progress. Being myself has been even harder. But when you have a community in your corner you can do anything. For me that support meant allowing myself to embrace who I was. I was enough.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Unchartedvet.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Wash. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!