Clarion: Planning

When I got the email inviting me to attend Clarion, I may have screamed a little. Then I thought, “what if they made a mistake?” Then I screamed a little again. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Then I thought, “Oh God, so I really am going? What am I going to pack?” And the planning anxiety started!

Don’t worry, that’s normal too!

(Note: This is part of a series of posts about Clarion 2017. Here’s the first post: Clarion: Application.)

Here’s what helped:

  1. Plan at least one week of clothes and do laundry once a week. In addition, bring at least two swim things (so one can dry while you wear the other one). It can range from humid-hot where you’ll want shorts and a tank top, to mist-cool where you’ll want longer pants and a light jacket or sweatshirt, so bring layers.
  2. Bring at least one “slightly nice” or dressier outfit in case you want to dress up for a party or a book reading or photos or something, for fun! (I brought a dress that I actually didn’t wear… but I was glad to have had the option!)
  3. Don’t stress too much about packing everything. You can get stuff. There’s a CVS about a 7-minute drive away for most toiletries and such, and there are also other stores within walking or bussing range. A group of folks went to Target on the first night to purchase things like hot water kettles and sheets. (They give you sheets but some folks wanted their own.)
  4. The Clarion organizers will send some suggestions for what to bring and I found those helpful.
  5. DO bring or plan to purchase a shower caddy, one that can sit on the floor if necessary. I don’t know what UCSD has against hooks but there were like NO HOOKS in the showers or bedrooms.

So that’s the packing logistics (and again, the organizers will give you a LOT more suggestions.) The second part of preparation is the social part. You’re going to dive right into a pretty intensely social experience and I found that a bit challenging at first, as someone who is typically more measured in the volume of socializing I do. Here are some suggestions that helped me (when I remembered to follow them.)

  1. You’re not going to love everyone or be friends with everyone and that is okay. You can still respect and appreciate them without having to be BFFs. I felt so much more at peace with myself when I recognized that and let it be.
  2. Be honest with yourself on the roommate quiz you’ll fill out (which will determine room assignments.) You don’t serve yourself or anyone by not being frank about your habits and dislikes. Don’t feel like you have to be the “nice” person by pretending you’re okay with things if you’re not. Six weeks is a long time to have to live with something you realize you’re actually not okay with.
  3. Ask people if they want a hug before offering a hug and be okay with it if they decline. If someone asks you, feel empowered to decline if you’re not feeling huggy.
  4. It’s okay to go into your room and shut the door and just be alone. It’s okay to go for a walk by yourself. It’s okay to tell people you kind of need space and take your space. Chances are you’re not the only one who feels that way!
  5. Remember that you’re all in this together. It’s new and scary for everyone. You are all under unprecedented amount of stress. Be kind to each other. Be gracious. Be generous.

Finally, there’s the workshop preparation! I will save that for next time! To be continued!