The Conference that Changed my Life

The Conference that Changed my Life

Originally posted 10/6/15

Unless you have been living under a rock, every one of my friends knows that I am part of The Air Capital Skeptics and that in a couple weeks, we will be having our yearly conference, The Skeptics of Oz. What many of you may not know is the complete and total stress I have been under in planning and how it is consuming my life. And it isn’t like I am not busy as it is. Between work, school, the kids, moving, and a somewhat active social life, I am planning this conference. And the big question is WHY THE HELL WOULD I SIGN UP TO DO ONE MORE BLOODY THING?!
There are probably a huge number of highly more qualified people to do this whole president thing. I am still learning the names of some of the more atheist and science writers, bloggers, and podcasts. I have no real area of expertise in any of the more intellectual pursuits of life. And when it comes to logic versus emotions, my emotional side has a nasty habit of beating the shit of out my logic side and completely takes me over. By and by, I may be the least inept president of a logic and science group ever.
But this conference means everything to me.
A little over 2 years ago I went the after party of Skeptics of Oz. I didn’t go to the actual conference, as I had only been attending Skeptics in the Pub for a few months. And even going to those caused panic attacks where I sat in my car and hyperventilated before going in. (And sometimes, then walking back to the car, then back in, then back out….) My world at the point in my life was in total chaos. I was on the edge of something I didn’t understand. My inner me wanted out into the skeptics. It wanted to feed on the knowledge I heard at each meeting. It wanted to know everything. Every subject, every idea, and conversation, it wanted to jump in and absorb. But the me who I was supposed to be. What everyone, my whole life had said I was and had to change to be better, was holding her back. The me that was too dumb, too loud, too boyish, too strong-willed, too blunt and was trying to just conform to what the world, her church, even her long-dead mother had told her she was only capable of being, was scared and frightened and knew she didn’t belong in that world of Skepticism.
But, I went to the after party
And it was there, that my doubts were listened to. I asked my questions, as stupid as I thought they were, and instead of ridicule, I was met with not only the answers I was seeking but the encouragement to keep asking. And I asked some really, really stupid questions!! But their kindness, the enthusiasm, their friendship they offered me that night, was amazing. And it started a fire in my being that I thought I lost as a little girl. It began a journey that changed me completely and how I approach the world.
This group, this conference, is so much more than some anti-religion group. This is the group that has taught me to learn. It has taught me to question ideas and thoughts on everything I have ever been taught. Not only on personal beliefs but even basic science ideas and how things work. I have discovered that someone questioning why I know something, doesn’t mean they are insulting my intelligence, it is more, a questioning my source. It causes me to research more and to look up true meanings of things.
I have even learned to cope with personal struggles better. I have been introduced to so many strong, independent women that break the stereotype I have held against them. I have learned that obsessing about shoes and clothes doesn’t mean that women won’t take you down in an intellectual conversation. That a deep love of pumpkin spice anything doesn’t mean she isn’t a strong-willed feminist, who won’t hesitate to defend women’s right with a steel resolve. That loving Pinterest and having sorority sisters, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a deep passion for helping the young children learn and are able to let them flourish in their own way.
I love this conference. I love the discussions it causes. We are not all of the same skeptical minds. There have been talks that not everyone agrees on. But that is what it is about. Challenging ideas and beliefs and creating the opportunity to talk and debate. I love the people, their passions, their ideas. This conference is a constant reminder, to never be happy with your status quo of knowledge. And I think that everyone could benefit from such a state of mind. And I hope, that as long as I am in Wichita, I can be a part of it.

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