Leaning In

Leaning In

Before every workshop, every talk, even every facebook post and rant, a few things go through my head. 
 
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No, my laptop did not fall and translate half this post into some unknown language (please don't be offended, I respect your language). Some days, that's what it feels like; millions of thoughts rushing into my mind from the moment I find out about a talk until days after it's over. The thoughts are replaying over and over again, before the workshop, during the workshop, and even after the workshop. If you were to translate some of these replays, you'd hear that I'm a failure. That I'm going to forget everything I need to say. That everyone will hate me. That people will use everything I say against me. That my family will be harmed by this. That WW3 will start because of this, followed directly by the Zombie Apocalypse, all because I couldn't shut my mouth and sit at home. There are countless others, things that reaffirm every single one of these things and I have to go through them one by one, uncovering the truth like a good mental detective. I have to tell myself that even if people hate me, so what? Even if I say nothing, so what? Dragons do not exist, we've been over this. I assure myself that I am enough, whether or not this goes well. I am enough. 
 
I know that. I know that I am enough, whether or not I'm speaking in front of one person or hundreds, or possibly even thousands someday. I am enough whether or not my statuses are likes. I am enough whether anyone comments on my posts or not. I am enough whether anyone thinks what I'm doing is good or not. I am enough regardless of all that. 
 
I do all of it because it's not only needed but this is what I love doing. I love talking about topics most people would blush from or hide from. I love being on panels and setting things right when it comes to Islamophobia, race, or any other issue. I love the fact that I can empower people and give them hope through sharing my story. I love it all, and that's why I will go through all those zombie apocalypses any day, anytime and show up. Showing up and being seen is not an easy thing for anyone, but sometimes the hardest things for us are also somehow the easiest. I never thought I would lead workshops or speak in front of hundreds of strangers about my life when I was a kid. I was sold on the fact that I was 'shy', that all this was just a part of who I am, instead of it being anxiety. I never thought any of this would be possible. 
 
Today, for the first time, as I prepared for my second event this weekend, I was excited. Just excited. There was no fear, or shame, or any of those other hindrances that normally creep up, even though it was for an audience I'm normally very hesitant about working with. But I was fine. I looked forward to learning from the participants, and sharing some of my knowledge with them. I looked forward to the vulnerability and the connection we'd build in that hour. I was actually fully present. And instead of thinking that it's going to hit right before the start of the workshop or something like that, like I normally would do, or expect someone to stab me during the workshop or something, I leaned into the moment, into the excitement and I appreciated every moment of it, leading up to the workshop, during it, and after.

I leaned in. 

***

As I reflect on this post, almost a year after writing it I realize just how far I have come. Leaning in has revolutionized my life, and I no longer feel unworthy of doing my work. I am Enough, forever and always. 

Part of my reflection is to critically look at what has actually helped me throughout this time period, and honestly the number one thing is myself and others. Over the last year, and specifically the last six months, I have invested in the following areas:

  1. Self-Love. I have invested in my growth on every level.
  2. Boundaries. Not everyone is supportive, and I don't need everyone in my life, personally and/or professionally. 
  3. Healthy Relationships. My standards are high for what a healthy relationship is, and honestly, that's okay. People might call me entitled, but if requiring support and compassion is being entitled then yeah, I am entitled. 
  4. Treatment. There are many types of support. I needed professional support, and to work on areas of my life that I hadn't dared to touch in the past. 
  5. Taking credit for my accomplishments. Everything, from the smallest to the largest needs to be celebrated. 
  6. Leaving Shame behind. Shame is given to us inter-personally and internally, and it is not fun to deal with. Today, instead of apologizing for my work I am taking credit for it, and by using the above five points I have left shame behind. 

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