A week away from home surrounded entirely by strangers with the expectations to intermingle and come away with a joyful experience and possibly a few new companions.
For a socially awkward and wary person, this appeared to be my largest mistake yet this summer as the plane’s wheels curled into its bottom, my stomach sinking. From the elevating plane or epiphany that had just occurred to me, I couldn’t quite tell which it was that caused me to eye the bathroom anxiously. Likely, a brutal combination of the two contributed to that issue.
But, despite my panic-stricken brain combating any ability to sleep during the flight, I arrived alive and well to the airport. Within a few minutes, several other correspondents and I had gathered in a circle as we awaited the tour bus’s arrival. Despite my lack of large contribution to discussions, I felt invited by the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere we appeared to present to each other.
This theme was preset the entire day, with warm, inviting smiles on most people’s faces and serene attitudes keeping the pleasant environment. My group, the Gang Green 2016, seems to have hit off pretty well and were, by the end of our group meeting tonight, laughing and giggling along with our fantastic faculty advisers, Jess and Hunter. I don’t believe there was a single person who didn’t break out in a smile at least once during the course of our session.
So despite having arriving here at the Washington Journalism & Media Conference with thoughts racing and my heart about to leap from my chest, I can confidently say that I’m overjoyed that I made the decision to attend this conference. Despite slight portions of socializing and companionship, I’m gradually losing my anxious edge as I settle into the energy flowing with my peers. In my hopes of breaking further out of my comfort zone and broadening my views, I eagerly await the remainder of the week.