This past weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the first ever Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas. As I sit here now 4 days later, it is truly difficult to find the words to describe the totally unique, one of a kind experience that I had. To be honest I was very skeptical before I went, as I think we all tend to be when it comes to the unknown. What would the sessions be like? Who would be there? Would it be awkward? Even as outgoing as I am, and as much as I share my story online, the thought of sharing intimate details about my feelings and life experiences with diabetes in a large, in-person setting was still a bit nerve-racking to say the least.
Fast forward to being in the room on Saturday. Christel Aprigliano (all links under the video when you click watch video on YouTube icon in lower right-hand corner of video, check her out!), the creator of the UnConference, made everyone feel at ease right away with her calming, friendly demeanor, and well-thought out house rules 🙂 Smartly there was a social media blackout during the conference sessions so that everyone could freely and safely share their feelings without worrying about someone snapping a picture and live-tweeting it out to the world. We had so many important topics to cover, and I think that at least to some extent all of them did get touched on which was a feat in itself. I believe we all felt welcomed, respected, and valued. Everyone’s voice mattered, and there was no separation between types of diabetes which was very powerful…we are all on the same team, and we are stronger when we stick together!
By the time Sunday’s session was over it truly felt like we were in a room of family members we had known forever. There were tons of smiles, laughter, and big hugs, coupled with tears (mostly from that damn Vegas dust!), fears, and emotional breakthroughs that allowed all of us to grow and contribute to our diabetes community and personal experiences in ways most of us never have before. I am grateful to the Diabetes UnConference including every single one of the attendees who wore their hearts on their sleeves all weekend, and the facilitators, and creators who did the same for providing an environment where we could all learn, grow, and all in all be a better, ever-so-slightly upgraded version of our true selves by the time we left.