This past weekend, I attended the Women, Action & the Media Conference (WAM!) in Boston. It was a really great event with informative panels and inspiring media-makers.
A lot of what I took away from this weekend came from the sessions I attended. The panel about gender, non-conformity and the media really made me question how we view gender, and echoed a lot of my own ambivalence about labels. A workshop about self-publishing not only gave me practical skills I can keep in mind and share with other writers, but also reaffirmed the importance of advocating for yourself, putting your work out there, and learning how to fight for the creative control you desire. In another session, I saw a short film entitled Not Yet Rain about the realities of abortion access in Ethiopia, inspiring me to become more involved in public health and human rights around the world.
The most important thing I got out of the conference was a stronger confidence in my own work. As you would expect at an event like this, I often had to explain to people what I do, and I got to share my love for activism and writing with almost everyone I met. I really got a sense that these were my kind of people, so hearing their support of my work and sometimes even their open admiration was very validating. The thoughts I've been having lately about whether or not any of this is worth it quickly flew out of my mind after my first night at WAM! I spent the rest of the weekend trying to soak in all of the advice and affirmation I could.
Even though my trip was exhausting, it was such a good experience, and I wouldn't have changed anything about it. The things I learned and the self-confidence I gained were enough for me to get my money's worth. But my favorite part was meeting the people I've been building relationships with online through blogs and on Twitter. They're even more awesome in person, and we all got along very well. I also met a lot of new people, and learned things from every one of them.
I can't wait for the next conference!