With two of the biggest conferences in the States just around the bend, one DrAndyRoark.com reader has some advice for those who bemoan the sight of attendees in athleisure at veterinary CE events:
Yoga pants. You are spending this lecture focused on what I am wearing and how unprofessional I am. You have gone so far as to snap a quick, but not unnoticed picture of me, posted it on your Twitter, and put it up in your private veterinary Facebook group.
What would make my yoga pants acceptable to you? A recent c-section or gallbladder surgery? What about the death of a parent, severe social anxiety, or my luggage being lost at the airport? Stop for a moment. Did you just ask yourself, “What would make this acceptable to me?” Why? Why do you care what I’m wearing? I showed up at this conference to learn, not to be judged. Why are you here?
The truth is, what I wear does not impact your learning. Your scorn does impact my quality of life. It impacts how other people see me, people who don’t know me. Come to think of it, you don’t know me. Your post and your criticism of a stranger does, however, speak volumes about you. How I dress at a veterinary conference that does not have a dress code does not impact you.
How you treat other people behind their backs and in front of the world does have an impact. It impacts your colleagues and how everyone who sees your posts perceives the veterinary community. The problem is you, not what I am wearing.
I understand that you feel strongly that how I dress at a veterinary conference is a representation of the profession and you think I’m a poor representative. You think I’m unprofessional. Would you rather I didn’t come to continuing education? Would the profession be better off without me? Are you ready to make that call? Your judgment says yes.
When the next veterinarian or support staff member commits suicide (that will be sometime this week), you will post about how tragic it is. You will quote #NotOneMoreVet. You will speak of how you want to be part of the solution. You will be outraged. Nearly as outraged as when I wear yoga pants to a veterinary conference.
Buddha has been credited with saying, “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” Everything else is gossip. Gossip is insidious. It is ugly and it is pervasive in our community. It alienates people at best and at worst it drives them from the field entirely, or to suicide. The solution does start with you. It starts with compassion, focusing on what matters, keeping kindness at your forefront, and my photo off your phone and your social media.
The next time you are at a conference and you catch yourself judging how someone is dressed, here are four things you can do instead:
1.Turn to the person closest to you that you don’t know and introduce yourself.
Turning your focus to purposeful and meaningful engagement with another person will make you feel less lonely and less likely to be critical of others.
2. Walk out to the information booth and ask if they need any additional moderators.
That’s right, turn that energy into something positive. Hands down, conferences always need extra help and volunteering will make you feel good about yourself. When you feel good about you, you’re kinder to others.
3. Raise your hand in a lecture and ask a question.
It’s not so easy when the focus is on you, is it? Turning the table to draw attention to yourself and putting yourself out on a limb is a great technique to staying humble.
4. Text or call a therapist.
No, seriously, reach out to a professional. Let them know you are struggling with criticizing your colleagues and that isn’t the person you want to be.
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
The views and opinions featured on There, I Said It are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.