At my job, my supervisor had us write out personal mission statements for ourselves. The concept was broad, she wanted us to include what we wanted to, but the idea was the same for all of us: Define your identity and purpose and include what is important to the way you want to live. I was really excited about the concept, it was something I’d never heard of doing before. My minor is nonprofit studies and the thing that sets nonprofits apart from businesses is that the number one priority is the mission, not the money.
In my mission statement I included a list of values that I wanted to be intentional about. The first thing on my list? Vulnerability. I wrote, “This is hard for me right now, but I hope to grow into a more humble and open version of myself through vulnerability. I want to be vulnerable about my imperfections, that I am not perfect. I want to have a willingness to be honest about myself with those around me.”
I’m currently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and it is changing the way I think about vulnerability and how it is an act of courage, not of weakness. What I keep going back to from her book is that vulnerability is the core of our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel.
I think this concept ties back to so many class discussions and what it means to be a feminist. Last week we talked about how to have conversations with those who don’t consider themselves a feminist or have different views than us. One thing we discussed is making sure to use words that most people will understand or if we use words that can be more confusing, to define those in our discussions. (For more information on feminist terms and their definitions check out an earlier blog post by @standtallstaystrong.)
I think one of the most useful things we can talk about in these harder conversations of our own story of why we believe in feminism or have certain views on gender equality. We can’t necessarily speak for others, but no one can take your story away from you. It’s the most powerful thing that we have to combat hate and ignorance.
But sharing a personal story can be hard. Really, really hard. Being vulnerable is a courageous act. It might mean admitting some of your flaws. Or that you have struggles that might be hidden based on your Instagram.
But doing so acknowledges that you are a real person too. And you are valuable enough to be heard. Whether what you are discussing is with a friend, or a stranger, no one can take away the things that you have seen and experienced. No one can take away the things that make you, you.
When you allow yourself to open up, it’s like reaching your hand to them, outstretched. Whether they take it or not, isn’t up to you. But you were the one who put yourself out there and you will be stronger because of it.
Keep sharing your story. Keep fighting ignorance with knowledge. I think if we could all dig a little deeper into ourselves and share that with others, we would all be a lot more compassionate and open in the first place.