My best friend aka Soul Sister sent me an email with the image below. In the body of the email was the single line, “Reminds me of you.” The email, a simple gesture, put a smile on my face this week. After reading the quote a few more times, I agree that the quote reminds me of me too. I have always sought to know myself since I was young, but I have only recently (within the past year and a half) begun to see that understanding myself has helped me to understand others at a deeper level. This past weekend I gave my first motivational speech of what I hope will be the start of a career as a motivational speaker. My speech offered tools to help the youth, that I spoke to, face their fears and push through the inevitable road blocks, bumps and doubts that will come up in their lives. My main message in the speech is also a point I express when life provides me the opportunity to share it and is a realization I have had as a result of knowing myself.
I have always lived on the outside. As a shy girl growing up, being on the outskirts of a group was comfortable for me. Being made fun of on several occasions as a girl aided in this perspective. And being in special ed for reading and writing solidified my outsider perspective. In junior high, high school and college I chose to follow “my own drum,” do my own thing, thus being on the outside even more. I found myself on the outside of my own ethnic group because I have often been challenged to the extent of how Mexican-American I am or “should be.” Being on the outside has offered a greater perspective then being on the inside, because you see the bigger picture. It is from this standpoint that a leader needs to be to understand what their group or community needs.
While I have always belonged, one of my quests in life is to meet someone who understands me with little explanation. I feel that is all our quests to some extent. I know that since I have been alone or felt alone at times, I know and understand that at some point in everyone’s life people will or have been or felt the same. In fact, I asked the youth this past weekend, to stand if they have ever felt alone and 98% of the room stood up. I also asked them to stand if they ever felt that they had an emotion or experience that they felt no one else would understand, the same percentage of the room stood. If we increase the room to the city, state, or country I am pretty sure we’d see that the majority of people would stand.
I think it is true that we are all unique, special and beautiful, but I feel that we as society can focus too much on our uniqueness and difference to a point that it’s dangerous. The bad thing about this is that if we are so unique, so different then at the end of the day we can think or feel that we are alone because of that uniqueness. We may feel that what we are thinking or feeling is nothing like what has ever been felt or experienced by anyone else before because of our individuality. What my college instructor told my reflective writing class has always stuck out in my mind, he said “I can’t imagine you having a feeling someone else hasn’t had.” To go further, I can’t imagine you having an experience someone else hasn’t experienced. We go to books, plays, movies and music because it is a reflection of life. We see ourselves or our experiences in the stories we are drawn to and in those moments we feel comforted and understood. We are wired to connect and live in community. To find our community we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We need to share our stories with each other to bridge our differences and see that beside the commonalty of being human, what also connects us is our emotions and our stories too. Since I have been on my quest to live vulnerably, it has been important to me to find a common ground with everyone I meet. I do that by speaking my truth and telling my story, it has and continues to make a difference in my life and the lives of people I meet. What stories do you need to hear? What stories do you need to tell? Remember you are not alone. You are never alone.