If there is anything I cherished most about the position I’m leaving, it is that inside that small office, life happened, and I was allowed to experience it.
Over endless cups of coffee. Over a couple glasses of wine.
I survived one of my worst days behind its locked door. The arms of colleagues braced me on days I could not stand on my own.
I smiled a lot, and laughed even more. When he was telling me I was an unhappy person, it was in my office I learned he was wrong. I learned I could be a happy person–and that I am. And when I wasn’t, I learned that was okay, too.
I was allowed to be authentic.
And because I was, I grew.
Authenticity requires courage because it requires an unboxing of the self. It’s a removal of the packaging that does not fit–though pretty and prescriptive. It’s a removal of needless fillers. It’s an uncertain shifting through paper, plastic, and pockets of nothing.
And when you finally come to the heart of it–to the authentic you–you seem rather small and insignificant outside of the box that once defined you. You are vulnerable.
Until something happens. Or nothing happens. Because it’s your choice.
Authenticity is freedom. To stay. To go. To do. To feel. To choose.
There are no barriers between you and the world. There are no air-filled cushions to protect you from the blows of difficult times, or conceal from the world your true feelings. There are no more handles, strings, and ribbons with which others can carry you where they like.
The labels of the packaging are gone, so no, those who prefer the pretty and defined are going to be wary of choosing you. Because after years of allowing others to define you, even you do not know who you are. You are unfamiliar. You are undefined. You are dangerous because you are unknown.
Until you are known.
Because vulnerability begets opportunity.
And its through leaning into those opportunities–as vulnerable as we may feel–we grow. We make impacts. We become memorable. We find ourselves not just functional, but vital.
We become more.
I have become more.
I am more.
And I deserve more.