This week I was invited to speak at a Parliamentary dinner in Canberra, representing the Young Leaders of Diabetes Australia. I know right, how lucky am I?
Being the political nerd that I am, I asked them to put me on an early flight so I had time to squeeze in as many different Canberra touristy things as I could before the dinner. I saw an old high school friend who’s a law student at ANU, went to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and squeezed in a tour of Old Parliament House, where the average age of the other participants was probably around 65. They may have given me an education on 70s technology as we walked through the old offices (“Wait what’s a word processor? Like Microsoft Word?”)
I have never been as nervous as I was last night. It’s very intimidating, making small talk with people who are the experts in their field. It puts different life stages into perspective, especially when they talk about flying out to the ADA Conference in Boston later this week and I was trying to contain my excitement about the complimentary wifi and chocolates at the hotel. Speaking in front of them? Terrifying.
(Guys, Bill Shorten was there. Leader of the Opposition. I got star struck and just thought about all the things I would like to say, most notably “Can you tell Tanya Plibersek that I’m her biggest fan”)
One of the people I was sitting next to said “Just pretend they’re your students”, which made it a little easier. In classic diabetes timing, I hypoed just before my speech and scoffed an entire bag of lolly frogs, to the amusement and concern of the people at my table, doing my speech at around 4.2. Hey, if I passed out from a low blood sugar, a function hosted by Diabetes Australia was the best place to do it! Diabetes always chooses the best times to rear its head. Big love to Renza who had a flight to catch but stayed until the last possible second to give me a good luck hug and watch most of my speech. Thank you, you fantastic human being!
I believe that my speech got my message across, as I had many conversations afterwards with people who were kind enough to congratulate and compliment me. I think it was filmed, which hopefully I never see because I am inherently critical of myself and no doubt will want to get up and do it again – English teacher at heart! I had incredibly exciting and stimulating conversations with a variety of people who were generous enough to ask me to contact them to get some projects rolling in regards to mental health and diabetes, especially in the online sphere.
I made some fantastic connections, and I’m just so excited to have been given this platform to talk to these people who are in positions that can help make my goals an actual reality. I’ve been plugging away at this since last year, but haven’t made a lot of outward progress as working, studying a Masters degree, and bad health are sort of a no productivity trifecta. We have a general plan, but between me and the other girls, bad health, university degrees, and a baby have all slowed things down (which it absolutely should – congratulations Lisa!).
I now have the opportunity to get the ball rolling again, and I am beyond excited.
Thank you to Renza for taking this photo! Also, a shout-out to my Irish skin for being as pale as the white backdrop.