To go or not to go, that's the question.  Even though my mom suggests that I should not go to AOTA this year, I had some sleepless nights about the decision.  After all, my mom has no idea why I go for the things I am going for in my state association as well as AOTA.  My mom also thinks that a lot of the things I am going for are not as important as my current fieldwork.  To a degree, that is true.  But, I also don't want to ruin my career trajectory.  Deep down, I know it will be much better to start as a student, particularly since I disagree with my mom in that it may not be as feasible to go to AOTA in my future job as she thinks.  Also, considering my mom is the type who is on the sidelines a lot, I think she will hardly get what I am doing anyway or the true dilemma I am feeling.

On my birthday yesterday, I still have people call me an OT superstar.  Considering the hype is now over almost a year and a half, I know I am becoming a more serious presence in the OT community.  In my mind, I also have a host of people I want to meet or see again.  So, I have a valid argument on the social standpoint.

Meanwhile, I recalled my own speaking experience in Autism West.  I think I got it because it stemmed from the proposals I have submitted presentation proposals at the AOTA and/or my state association, on top of the fact that I am local.  So, I know opportunities don't fall from trees.  On that standpoint, I think it's important to continue to pursue opportunities.

Next, after I spent a year to get to know what the conference environment feels like, I have gotten more and more out of the OT conferences I go to.  Moreover, I got a huge morale boost.  This was evident in my two most recent OT conferences where I spoke.  I came back to my fieldwork more confident.  Of course, I will never forget what happened in AOTA Student Conclave in 2010, which literally was my turning point of my OT journey.  So, the impact on my OT journey can't be underestimated.

Lastly, not to criticize my church friends, but I have considered a cheaper alternative in form of a church retreat two months after AOTA conference.  The camaraderie is about same, except in a much much smaller scale.  Also, I also will be spending 3 days with them at a retreat center.  However, I had a very bad experience the day after the conclusion of the retreat I went with them 2 years ago while I was attempting my first level 2.  The retreat experience was great.  However, I simply couldn't transition back to my work the next day because I felt everything was going at light speed.  Considering where I will be in my current level 2 fieldwork in this year's edition of the retreat when I return, I think this alternative will not be as good a choice.

Yes, it does take a good bit of money to attend AOTA conference, and I know my mom won't be happy if I choose to go from a financial standpoint (especially since my dad is now out of a job).  But considering the positive intangible factors (aside from the knowledge that I will gain), I have a pretty valid argument.  As someone who used to study a bit of Microeconmics, I think the question of going to AOTA conference is not about recommended versus mandatory, like my mom said.  Rather, I believe I also need to consider all the tangible and intangible things that I may get out of the experience versus the money I will spend.

I have proven my mom wrong before.  I am going to prove her wrong again!