My childhood was rough. As a way of coping with the experiences I had, somewhere along the way I started to gloss over details of my days by concentrating on big pictures. That was fun when I was younger, as it afforded me views I didn’t experience a lot of my peers having. However, it has cost me as I’ve grown older, since operating at 30,000 feet doesn’t make for close connections with a lot of people. I want those connections.
As part of my work, I get opportunities to talk with a lot of youth workers and community educators. Their perspectives of young people are fairly unique, and their jobs are always demanding. Every time I interact with them, I try to thank each one for what they do because youth workers saved my life as a teenager.
Recently, I’ve had the privilege of being in contact with a youth worker in the upper Midwest who has reminded me of something very important to me. In my email exchanges with him, BC comes across as a down-to-earth, authentic person who is conscientiously, intentionally working to be real, true and honest with the people he serves and the ways he’s serving them.
I’ve been pouring over his blog for the last few days. In the course of 100s of entries, he continually lays it on the line, connecting deeply within himself in order to have a more genuine relationship with himself. For me, it’s been a refreshing, ernest reminder of the power and potential of personal engagement.
So, I’m committing myself to reconnecting with two things in my writing from this point:
- My personal experience in life and through my work that allows me to do what I do, and
- My practice in personal engagement that sustains me.
In doing this, I hope I can speak as truthfully as BC has reminded me that its necessary to do. Over these last several years, I’ve been learning to let my feet truly soak into the Earth as I walk, whether or not I let my hands brush the bushes I past or keep my eyes to the skies.
When I was very young, my cousin cut off a section of an oil barrel and hung it from a gate header. He spray painted it “Adam 5” and used to launch me on wild rides inside of it. Today, I can’t imagine that would be any fun, but then I thought it was the bees knees!
Sometimes, being transparent can seem like a losing proposition. Openness leads to vulnerability, and being soft can lead to getting hurt. However, the old way of self-defense is slowly making its way into history. More than ever, we need leaders and followers who can be truthful, ernest and real with people.
Here are a few things I try to remember when I want to connect with my reasons:
- What matters most to me?
- Where do I come from?
- Where do I want to go?
- What difference do I want to make?
Those questions bring me back to my heart when I’m drifting, and nearer to my essence.
That’s where I strive to work from. Thanks BC – I appreciate you reminding me to do that!