Of Conferences and Catalysts

Of Conferences and Catalysts

Salutations and welcome back, true believer! It’s been an interesting week, for sure, but that’s practically a given in this city. The honeymoon period is over folks so let’s take a look at the past week without the rose-tinted goggles of yesterweek.


For starters, there were even more talks this week. A few I found through the Washington Center, but more were found by keeping my eyes open, my ears to the ground, and my metaphors mixed. I had the opportunity to attend a dialogue about the future of the United Nations, a question-and-answer session about working in congressional offices and campaigns, a presentation by representatives of the Ukrainian government (on why we should give them weapons and more money), a panel talking about current and future implications of various sanctioned regimes, and a thrilling talk about just how dangerous and nuclear weapon-filled our future is. The last was exceptionally exciting because there were free books, and I managed to get my copy signed by the author -- one of the geekiest things I’ve ever done.



When I called up my folks on Father’s Day, my mom was concerned that I was spending so much time going to conferences instead of “doing something fun,” as she put it. In case you haven’t realized it folks, I’m the kind of fellow who finds going to speeches and conferences fun, but this concern made me think.


I came to the realization that I didn’t have many friends here in the city. I had been so focused on budgeting, and events, and the like that I failed to make human connections. Part of that stems from my innate aloofness, but I still was surprised at how difficult I found it to go out and meet new people and strengthen my ties to the friends I have (read: my roommates). But now that I’ve identified the source of this disquiet, I can attack it by strengthening bonds, working harder to put myself out there, and seeking out friendships I’d never considered before. Let my experience be a larger kind of lesson that nothing is written in stone and you can change who you are and what you do. After all, if a schmuck like me can pull it off, why not you?


Ryan’s Recs

Free events are really great, but what can really make something worth your while if you’re on the fence about attending or not is the presence of a free meal. In a city and a time of your life where every cent counts, finding the discussions and presentations where people will feed you for attending is a great way to save money and can push you into attending things that you might not have considered before. Plus, because these are events catering to professionals, not just college kids, the food’s actually pretty good. No better combination than a full brain and a full belly, I always say!



The second and last recommendation for the week is this: make yourself belong. That may sound akin to telling you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but trust me there’s more to the sentiment. What I mean is that it will be easy to continue to see yourself as an outsider in this city, and you certainly won’t be the only one since Washington, D.C. is full of people from all over the country and the world. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be content to be in, but not of, the city. Instead, you can work to integrate yourself into the life of this, our nation’s capital. Do the touristy things, certainly, but balance them with trying to find the deeper parts of the city, the aspects that aren’t as apparent on the circle, but emerge when you dig a little deeper into what Washington, D.C. has to offer. Then the homesickness will vanish, and the loneliness will be replaced by friendship. Don’t believe me? Come on, have I ever steered you wrong yet?


That’s all folks! Until next time, remember the future is what you make of it.

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