This past weekend I attended a women's conference called Merge. It was a place for us to discover our passions and figure out a way for us to "merge" them with a career or business we will love and be passionate about.
To be completely honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the conference. It wasn't horrible and I don't feel like I wasted my time, but I don't feel enlightened or enthusiastic about it either. I feel like the conference was truly meant for someone who was unhappy in their current career and needed help figuring out how to transition into a meaningful creative career. I am not in that position. One, I love my current career as a high school Visual Arts teacher. It is through my search of creating fun, interesting, and inspirational assignments where I find my own personal inspiration. I might have mentioned it in a previous blog, but I often times inspire me instead of my students...who my hard work and research is intended for. Two, I have somewhat of an idea of what I want to do next or in addition to my current career. I'm just looking too closely at the bigger picture that I frighten myself with all of the possibilities and/or I'm just very exhausted at the moment from being the "rock", the "glue", or the "strength" for the people around me. I'm tired of taking on projects for other people and making their visions come to fruition. I need a break to recharge my batteries, and then I can go full steam in my own projects. Or that is what I'm hoping for. At the current moment, I look at my list of commitments and am realizing that might be happening for a little while.
I loved that the conference was just for women. That created a safe environment for everyone to share and not be judged. Everyone was extremely supportive and seemed to instantly become friends. I didn't like the conversation of male v. female. It seemed that many women had a difficult time working with or communicating with males. I sat there thinking "I LOVE WORKING WITH MY GUYS!!!! THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!" But maybe it is because the group of men I have surrounded myself with are supportive and trusting where they have no problem taking direction from me because I trust them to do their best as they do in return. I have learned to not be afraid to ask for help, and I learned to accept the best people can give me, or to utilize their strengths. I never ask people to do something they don't already do. If I do, I attempt the task with them and solve the problems together.
I didn't learn anything in particular that I didn't already know about myself, but the conference did reinforce what I already knew and made me realize I need to get over my fear and begin in small steps. I did find it interesting to people watch. That probably sounds really horrible or judgmental, but I enjoy observing people interaction. I found it fascinating that some women cried when sharing. I know people do this, but it always amazes me when people are so happy or overwhelmed by appreciation that they cry. I have never experienced it, so I don't truly understand it. It does fascinate me. It makes me wonder "why"? Did they grow up around people who never believed in them? Were they never told they were smart, creative, fun, beautiful, or wonderful? It's a little sad to think about, but it does occur.
I feel like being an artist helps me be the survivor I am. Diving into my art is what helped me when I felt lost in life. It helped me rediscover myself and figure out where I'm going next. It has taken me on this incredible journey that seems to always lead back to a specific thing. There was a woman in one of my groups who felt like she knew her passions, talents, and what she would like to do with them, but didn't know exactly what that career or business would look like. Some of the others felt like her journey to discovery wasn't done. My recommendation was to embrace her "inner child" to play and explore the areas that she wanted to make a difference in, but for herself. Through her exploration for herself, she will discover what she is meant to create or do; and to know that when things look or feel wrong it is okay to stop and move on to something else. Mistakes are good. I shared with them the conversations I had been having with my AP students about the good, bad, and ugly art. Everyone in my group seemed to agree with me about this process. It seemed like a foreign new idea to a few, but I think it is because I'm trained to think and process in this particular way.
Nevertheless, the weekend provided an interesting experience. I'm still not convinced I learned anything in particular to benefit me, but perhaps I just need more time to process it all.