By Ericka Mendez, DVM
My daughter says to me, I’m gonna go and make friends.
And that is exactly what she does. It takes her 90 seconds to befriend a girl around her age on the beach.
And before you know it they are giggling in the water, jumping over waves, and diving under the water like two sleek and shiny fish.
I’m envious of her ability to make friends so easily. So seamlessly. Without any of the self-doubt or anxiety that plagues me when faced with the same situation.
I know that not all kids are like her. I also know that she hasn’t learned her magical friend-making abilities from me.
She has however figured out, that playing on the beach with kids her age is way more fun than playing by herself.
And so it is in veterinary medicine.
We have an innate need for love and connection. Sometimes we fill this need with our spouse. Sometimes we fill this need with our children. Sometimes we fill this need with extended family. And sometimes, we fill this need with friends.
In the veterinary world, it isn’t “nice” to have friends who are also members of this world – it is a necessity.
A necessity that is so often overlooked because so many of us are introverted and plagued with the anxiety that comes with making friends. Usually, it doesn’t happen instantly because we are so hesitant to walk up to someone you don’t know and say hi. I’m Ericka. And start a conversation with a complete stranger.
So, year in and year out I’ve gone to veterinary conferences to complete my continuing education and I have not made a single friend – until now.
You see, the Uncharted Veterinary Conference is a horse of a different color. From the outside, it looks like any other conference. But from the inside, it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the veterinary world.
The thing that makes it so different is that it is a place where people come to see their friends and to make new friends. It is a family unit of founding fathers and mothers with the shared goal of friendship. And they pull it off. They’ve figured out how to put 150 veterinarians into one room and create an environment where friendships can be found and fostered.
Because they have figured it out too. That it’s way more fun when you have friends who are living a life similar to yours to play with.
So if you can’t quite figure out what Uncharted is all about, know this. It is about friendship, positivity, and a group of people that will not only cheer you on but will also pick you up when you fall down. It is a place where you can be yourself in all of your social anxiety, introverted glory. Because even if you can’t bring yourself to muster up your inner child and strike up a conversation with a total stranger, they will. Because they know what it feels like and they’ve got your back.
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
Dr. Ericka Mendez is a small animal veterinarian and veterinary professional mentor on the east coast of Florida. She loves reading, teaching and writing about veterinary wellness and channels all her loves into her blog, The Purposeful Vet. She shares her life with her husband and daughter and can often be found at the beach, at a Disney park or on the couch watching Harry Potter movies.