I would like to propose an alternative to the ‘divide and conquer’ tradition of political action – unite and prosper. By authentically aligning and integrating our truest needs and desires, we will all benefit.
In the mid -1970s there was a perfume commercial in which a woman said, “if you want to get someone’s attention…whisper.” It always woke me up out of a sound sleep. The fragrant mist of mystery surrounding stillness is alluring. And it is unusual today, where in your face tactics seem to overwhelm the media landscape. Gentle whispers are all around us, but are too often drowned out by noise. Yet, it is from within this clutter that silent space is most needed, most comforting, and most welcome. Sometimes my absurd fear of being irrelevant makes me think it is best to scream when my true nature is to whisper. I will continue to whisper, and I hope it will someday lead to someone waking up or to something shaking up in the most peaceful way possible.
When I was about 12 years old, I wrongly, but subconsciously, believed it was socially advantageous to minimize my intellectual capacities. This led to abhorrent behavior that drifted away along with adolescence. Yet, a part of me has retained this damaging belief about myself and the world: that it is somehow better to be less than I truly am and that it serves the world to downplay my unique abilities. While this makes little intellectual sense, this myth has manifested itself in my daily interactions with others, primarily in work situations (which ironically is how I spend most of my time). With some space and reflection, I realize that I have dumbed and numbed myself down so much, little by little, in order to survive that I feel as though a big part of me has died. It has become a bad habit as well as a negative way of being in the world.
For the past five months, detached from official external organizational affiliations, I have allowed my true self to start emerging. I have felt overwhelmingly isolated, rejected, and misunderstood. Yet, I also realize that this resistance is an important part of my growth. From now on, I’m playing smart (hence the new Fruition Coalition mottoes Wisdom is Bliss and Radiate Brilliance) regardless of the outcome. I am going to enjoy the process of being me.
I often feel the need to separate my personal and professional identities. They are not necessarily inconsistent; however, I fear that my quirkiness and eccentricities might bemuse, offend, or alienate some people with whom it is important for me to maintain a professional relationship.
I have several close personal friends who I initially met and got to know on a professional basis. When these relationships start to cross that line, I always feel a bit of anxiety as I start to slowly reveal the ‘real me.’ The risk of destroying a professional relationship because a trial friendship has gone awry is one that merits careful consideration.
As I mature and experience exploring a variety of interpersonal relationships, I increasingly understand the value of being sincere and genuine right from the beginning and at all times. Does anyone really care that I am a socialist cat lady who occasionally enjoys listening to thrash metal?
In fact, these distinguishing characteristics may make me more intriguing and appealing to those trapped in the mundanity of 9 to 5. My uniqueness and individuality set me apart from the crowd and provide cues for others to remember who I am. And for those who find me offensive, that’s just too bad.
Hiding my true nature would be wasteful. Eventually, most people will find out something personal about me through the grapevine. If a colleague finds this information to be unsavory, we can cut to the chase and terminate the relationship before it gets too complicated – if that is the other person’s true desire. Sharing all aspects of my personality, beliefs, and activities may help another person learn something or develop a new interest. Withholding personal information limits opportunities for people to get to know wonderful me – and for me to get to know wonderful them in exchange.
When we piece together the many aspects of our lives, it is like melting chunks of cheese in a pot. It all combines to make one sauce that is our unique essence. Our spirit is the heat that melts the cheese which we use to flavor life by pouring it over everything we taste. Before pouring our sauce over someone else’s bread, we ought to let them know what they are about to eat.
Appearances can be deceiving. Bleu cheese, which looks moldy and smells like something unsavory, is widely considered to be a lovely delicacy with many culinary uses. I may appear to be a stuffy, serious organizational leader from afar, but inside I am a dynamic woman with extraordinary passions, hopes, and dreams. My fear may manifest as confidence; my insecurities as competencies. Taking the time to experience and develop a deeper understanding of others usually reveals many wonderful surprises.
I also have a few skeletons in my closet which most people do not know about. They all represent a learning experience that strengthened my character, expanded my capabilities, and fueled my growth. There is a direct and concrete application between difficult personal experiences and my ability to effectively lead. Yet, our society does not encourage sharing these stories. There is a stigma associated with abnormal experiences – yet anyone who has truly lived has had a preponderance of them. By exploring and sharing these experiences with others in a safe environment, perhaps with others who have had a similar experience, we can expand our understanding and develop deeper connections with others.
Our experiences, which include those that we may not be so proud of, make us who we are. They shape our goals, motivations, and values. Being honest with ourselves and others about where we are coming from and where we hope to go channels our collective energy into strategies and activities that directly support our deepest desires and dreams.
You may have heard of beta testing. This is when software companies share their most recent developments with a select audience to uncover bugs so that they can be fixed before the product’s full release. At this stage, a team of developers has likely already invested a great deal of time conceptualizing, planning, creating, and refining the software. In a wolf pack, the omega wolf is the one who is most often hurt and excluded yet creates harmony within the group; she or he is submissive and may stray from the pack.
I like to think of this blog as an alpha test for ideas. This is a space where I share my somewhat moderated thoughts and ideas so that they can be collectively thought through and tested. I do so with an omega spirit. Opening up myself in such a way requires humility, vulnerability, and risk of ridicule.