To say I’ve had a busy past few months would be an understatement. August and September have pretty much kicked my butt - both of my internships ended, I moved back into school (a week early for RA training), classes started and I went to Chicago. Although I didn’t want to, I knew I had to take a step back from blogging because I wanted to make sure my transition into my junior year of college (so crazy!) went smoothly and almost stress-free. But because the chaos has died down and I am finally returning back to my beloved Kaleidoscopic Dreams, I thought it would be wonderful to highlight on my trip to a city (and time zone) I had never been to previously. Chicago, you were a delight.
I don’t travel often. The last time I went on a road trip was nearly six months ago, and I hadn’t been on a plane in over two years before last weekend. Traveling is something I know I need to do more, but unfortunately don’t run into the opportunity frequently as a full-time college student on a budget. Chicago has always been on my bucket list of places I want to go to, but never thought the chance to go would come the way that it did. In the beginning of the summer, I was introduced to the Out for Undergrad conference, and rushed to apply before the approaching deadline. Two months later I was accepted, and had a confirmation email for a round-trip ticket to Chicago sitting unread in my mailbox. Booked.
O4U is exactly what it sounds like - a conference for members of the LGBTQ+ community that are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program (hence Out for Undergrad). There are four conferences under the O4U umbrella all over the country, and the one I attended was for marketing. As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and an aspiring marketing professional, I couldn’t think of a better way to network, travel and meet amazing like-minded people from all over the states. O4U was more than just a conference; it was a weekend that empowered me.
While I am proud to say that I identify with the LGBTQ+ spectrum, it’s definitely not always the easiest to deal with in college, the professional world and my personal life. I am lucky to have not had that difficult of a time with coming out (and being out), but do still find myself feeling alone sometimes in our heteronormative society. This weekend made me feel anything but alone. It made me feel included, important and filled with tremendous potential. For any fellow queers reading this: whoever told you you can’t is wrong. You can. Never let someone belittle your capabilities; you are filled with so much light.
At O4U, I had the pleasure of hearing the stories of incredibly successful LGBTQ+ professionals from world renowned companies. Nothing was more inspiring than hearing those success stories and knowing that it is possible to get there (and realizing that I’ll achieve that one day myself). I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the most amazing friends that I know I’ll stay in touch with for a very, very long time.
I might not have seen that much of Chicago (made a very quick pit stop at The Bean, didn’t get deep dish pizza, decided I need to return someday), but I traveled far enough to meet some people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And to me, that is just as valuable.
Until next time, Chicago/O4U!
Stay positive, ambitious and kind,