SHHH… dont tell anyone but I am writing in my blog at work. Just kidding, I do not think its a sin to write and work at the same time. I have so much bubbling up inside of me, it would only be fair to the integrity and quality of my work to write out what is festering in my soul and get it out, than to have it sit here and distract me all day.
The struggle to write is soooo real these days, but this past weekend I broke through so many barriers, and challenged myself in so many new ways that it only feels right to write it out. If you do not know, you will now… but I was accepted into a young professionals development program. The program goes for 8 months and we meet one Wednesday a month for the next 8 months. Our journey as a group started at Camp Joy. If I told you that I had nothing but pure excitement going I would really be lying to you. I was terrified. I don’t think I have ever been in a group of 42 people comfortably. I cannot be in a room full of 10 people without my anxiety getting the best and worst of me. But, I did it. I spent an entire weekend with 41 strangers.
The best thing I did for myself was keep an open mind. So with that being said, the lessons I learned in only a weekend were enough to bring home and make an immediate impact in my daily life. I learned a lot about myself and the extent to which I can push myself and break down barriers that hold me back in so many aspects of my life. One thing that holds me back is this fear of people. I am so afraid of what others may think of me, or if I will be good enough that I tend to avoid social settings. I also still walk around with this idea that I have the words RAPED on my forehead. I never would have imagined that after all of this time, this invisible tattoo I have would never fade. I covered it up with makeup and put that piece of me, behind me (for the most part). There were a few challenges over the weekend that involved others touching me, and the idea of pressure in places I may not be able to see was scary. The challenge i remember the most is the tight rope with a classmate named Eli. I not only had to hold hands with him and give my trust while taking his trust, I also had to trust my classmates. I had to allow others into my personal space and support me. I learned in those moments that physical touch isn’t always harmful. Although, I knew that for the most part, a piece of me is relearning this. Also, I had to go first, I hate going first lol… thanks Eli.
I learned this weekend from our counselor/director of the program how precious my relationship with Jason is. He said to the group that, marriage is when someone else can look at you and accept your bullshit and baggage and help you sort through it and not walk away… that really hit me. I have never looked into the eyes of someone and felt so much love and acceptance. I know I am so far from perfect and I have so many flaws and weird quirks, yet he still chooses to love me and pick me every day. Sometimes so much so that I ask myself what I did to deserve so much love.
I learned that vulnerability is ok. I struggle with being vulnerable every day. I really and truly hate being vulnerable. If you ask my best friend since freshman year of college she would tell you this hasn’t always been the case. Over the years, I have became a hermit crab and really resorted to being in a safe, small, comfortable shell. I opened up to strangers about my identity struggle, being raped, and a few other things. Its one thing for me to sit behind my computer screen and type, but to actually vocalize and say it in front of others is extremely tough. I am so proud of myself for the accomplishment of speaking my truth and sharing with other people. I am also so proud of all of my classmates. They did the same exact thing, shared their journeys and what makes them, them. The experience of sharing these moments with them were so important to me. I didn’t feel alone.
Inside of my cabin was another experience in itself. Something I have struggled with is a fear of being the only black girl in the room. I was in a cabin with 4 other strong black women that have done some pretty boss shit! I was amazed at the intelligence, innovation and confidence in one space. I was so happy to share stories with these women and connect on a personal deeper level. I moved to Cincinnati afraid of being able to find friends, meaningful friends… and here I am surrounded by 4 beautiful, strong, intelligent black women that are looking for the same thing. Outside of this cabin are 37 eager, strong, intelligent young professionals that welcomed me and my weirdness this weekend as well.
Coming back to work Monday was something I was looking forward to. I had an uneasy feeling leaving Thursday with one of my people and was able to apply so much knowledge from the weekend to sort through and find a solution to mend/ repair a relationship. Someone in my class said that being a leader is knowing that not everyone leaves a meeting feeling the same way and its important to check in with everyone before, during and after. I realized in a specific situation I was not an effective leader to this person or myself. Going back to talk to this person about the situation, ask about their feelings and add mine and what was bothering me and creating a solution together took this elephant out of the room that was between us.
I was not really sure how to feel about going about this weekend, but I am glad that I went in with an open mind and came out with such a positive and impacting experience. The next 8 months should be beautiful.
Here is to Cincy Next Class 5.