I had a breakthrough today. I think I realized I (like me as a singular human being and my singular actions) might actually be able to make an impact in someone’s day or life or maybe even the world? Who knows.
Today I had to share my story of self (again) to a different group of strangers (ugh) (also maybe I should start calling these strangers PNFs: potential new friends?). ANYWAYS. Fun fact: I changed my story of self. I ended up not talking about that break up. I wrote a new story…the night before I had to share it for the first time. At around 11:32 p.m. last Wednesday, I realized that making that break up my story was a cop out. Two weeks ago, I was walking around my house nonchalantly reciting that tale, trying to figure out the timing and where to place the jokes. But your story of self isn’t something you rehearse or practice or that you can tell without feeling like you’re on the verge of a breakdown. The story about that boyfriend is the front I put up when I get nervous. I am so beyond that experience and that story that when I tell it I feel like I’m talking about a different person instead of myself. So I decided to take a giant leap of faith and I shoved myself out of my emotional nest that has very high walls.
I told the story in a group of ten PNFs. I went toward the end. I spoke. They snapped because TFA doesn’t believe in clapping. I shrunk into my chair and went back into my own little world. The next girl spoke. Then the next one prefaced her story with, “I originally wrote down another story, that I’m happy to share with y’all later, but I think I need to tell this one instead.” I didn’t really think anything of it. OK girl, you do you. The final girl went to tell her story, and internally I’m just giddy because it’s 8:15 a.m. and I’ve been up since 5 and this means I’m one step closer to lunch. But then she goes to start talking, and pauses, and looks at me, and says something along the lines of, “I had a story written, but after listening to you talk, I think I did the same thing. The story I wrote out is the front I put up, and I don’t want to do that anymore. So, I’m going to tell a different story and I don’t really know how I’m going to do it and I’m probably going to cry, but I need to tell it.” She then goes on to tell her own story of self and she cried and I almost cried and I was actually dumbfounded.
Um, did I have something to do with that? I’d always taken the leadership approach that if I just pretend to be perfect and have my life totally together then everyone will respect me. However, TFA says that in order to be the best leader, and therefore the best teacher, you have to be vulnerable and you have to let your walls down. So, since I’m here and I’ve got that clean slate and nothing to lose, I took that aforementioned giant jump and I was vulnerable. And that resulted in something?? I wasn’t trying to be inspirational or anything. If we’re being totally honest, I was just being selfish and using the opportunity for some informal group therapy. But my actions that were really just intended to make myself feel better gave someone else the courage to be vulnerable.
This really just blows my mind. I didn’t really realize anyone listened when I talked? But here I am at institute day one, and already everything is upside down. If I can accidentally help out a PNF, what can I accomplish with intentional actions?