I’ve now been working at the College Diabetes Network and living in Boston for about a year now. Wait. What. I’ve been adulting for a year??? About a year ago, I was dumb and doing what I do best- which is hit the ground running and going a million miles an hour. Which. I don’t do quite as much now- some people still don’t believe me (I’m looking at you- UGA Student Affairs department). I graduated college. Went on a cruise to Europe (missing graduation because it was graduation or camp- soooo- camp won). The day after getting back from Europe, I took a two day drive to Boston. The day after I arrived in Boston, I started at CDN.
The week after I moved and started working at CDN. We had our 2nd annual CDN Retreat. Which was amazing. Of course. Just like the first one I attended as a student the year before.
This year was different because I was settled in at my job. I felt more confident and prepared. With my feet firmly on the ground. I believed in myself and knew that this is where I should be.
And of course- this year was amazing. Not like we’re surprised or anything. Again, we had over 400 years of diabetes experience! So much happened in (now) 5 packed days of leadership, strategic planning, leadership transition, advocacy, young adult diagnosis, College Diabetes Week, and oh so much more! And of course- during our bringing the retreat home- when we shared our highs and lows- the tears immediately started to stream down my face. Of course, I am grateful for the continued power of me too- not just the diabetes- but the CDN involvement!
I was able to witness so much leadership and inspiring moments all week long. People came together from all across the country- many of them not knowing a single person before coming. From California to Vermont to Georgia. 25 student attendees. 6 staff members. 2 interns. 3 volunteers. and several special guests!
I got to listen as these young adult leaders with diabetes (or impacted by it) – who according to the world- aren’t supposed to care about anything outside of their own lives and aren’t supposed to be involved or care about diabetes. They aren’t supposed to have their lives together. They aren’t supposed to have a good work ethic. You know- those things we hear about our generation all of the time? The statistics that surrounds young adults and diabetes.
Well- just so you know- they proved you wrong.
They care- about a lot- They want to be a part of the change- and have conversations that thought leaders and medical professionals don’t even want to have.
They talked about diabetes in its relation to mental health, body image, and eating disorders- and they want to do something about it!
They talked about
being an example for the next generation.
spreading the word.
the unrealistic expectations people have on us with diabetes- perfection isn’t possible.
their stories and their struggles and their triumphs.
insurance and access.
advocacy and things they would like to change.
the transition to college with diabetes.
sharing and owning their stories.
hopes and dreams.
But also- this is my answer to everyone who asks if I regret deciding not to go to law school- or those who make comments about my life choices- specifically about my social work degree and working in a non-profit.
This is my example that I have no regrets. That you shouldn’t make comments about my life choices. I can give them examples all year long- but a very powerful and single example will always be the CDN Retreat.
The very first year in 2014- I admitted out loud for the first time that I had diabetes burnout which began my mental health transformation.
Last year- I proudly exclaimed I had no idea what I was doing- which technically- I’m still proudly winging it.
This year- I proudly labled myself as a creeper on social media- which I am. But also that changing my plans and everything was absolutely terrifying, but it turned out fine!
I wonder what next year will bring? There’s a lot of options!
I feel so grateful that my worlds can collide-
I was reunited with 4 members of my Camp Kudzu family!
I was reunited with the current chapter leader/president and finally got to meet the VP in person of Dawgs for Diabetes! So proud of my Alma Mater! Go Dawgs!- of course I am always beaming and proud of everything they do and who they are!
My worlds collide on a regular basis- the DOC, camp, my job, etc. It’s a beautiful thing.
We had enough people to take a CDN alum pic (some were volunteers this year!)
There were a few of us at this year’s retreat who attended the first retreat in 2014!
But not only do my words collide, but so do my passions. All of the things I care about- all of the things that are seriously my soapboxes- are a part of my job. Which I constantly feel grateful for.
It’s wonderful to reunite with people- finally meet amazing people in person that I’ve known via email and social media for years, and in the end widen my circle of friends -always the silver lining to this crappy thing called diabetes we are all impacted by. But these friendships and connections are so much more- it goes beyond diabetes- which is just what brings us together- but has that silent understanding that the whole room gets it.
I am always awed by the diabetes community.
And sure this is biased- but I am so proud of what we do as a non-profit organization. I am so inspired by all of the people I get to meet and interact with on a regular basis. But especially the CDN students, chapter leaders, and alumni.
I am honored to know all of the student leaders (from the past, right now, and in the future) People I get to meet and learn from. They inspire me on a regular basis and teach me new things. People, I am so proud of constantly- proud of their accomplishments and proud I know them.
All year long I get to work with amazing people involved or touched by CDN, and once a year I get to be surrounded by many them in a beautiful place in Maine in May. (Not to say I’m not always surrounded).
These amazing people- are these young adult leaders with diabetes- the very people that aren’t supposed to care or be involved or any of these things.
I wish they (well we) didn’t have to prove you wrong- but that’s what they are doing- they are proving you wrong on a regular basis.
They are doing something in the world- they are changing it.
Please note that as more students write blogs about the retreat- I will be adding them below!
Blogs about this year’s CDN Retreat!
“Just a Type 3 in a Type 1 World” by Morgan Kath
“My Experience at the 2016 CDN Retreat” by Molly Johannes
“Our Normal as T1Ds” by Alondra Zambrano
“CDN to the Rescue” by Will Jennette
“My Experience at the CDN 2016 Retreat!“-Charlotte Burns
“A Special Shoutout to Some Special People” by Meagan Richardson
“Joining the College Diabetes Network” by Meagan Banks
Hey you! Yes, you!
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We’ll both be glad you did! -Mindy