What stands out to me? What has surprised me? What was I not prepared to encounter, or what came at me from a different angle?
I thought about this, long and longer. I realized I am not one for surprise. I’ve trained myself to not have stand out moments, because I have related those to trauma. Meaning I have built a life on the kind of flow, and my personality suited for weathering storms, not feeling crisis or surprise or those kind of swings. My eyes have been opened, increasingly, so its more of a subtle inclination or impression. I started thinking about the question in a different way. What would I advise future fellows to look out for, what might open their eyes to a new perspective and slightly different but evolving angle change. I’m evolving from this root in trauma.
I would advise - Don’t be surprised if you don’t have an answer when people ask you how is your fellowship going or what are you doing for your fellowship. Don’t be shocked if you do not have a clue, or cannot muster the words to describe your experience while you are swimming in it. Don’t be surprised when you just cannot fathom an answer, at least not at small talk short version elevator pitch answer because one doesn’t really exist. There is no summary of evolution, and that’s the best word I would use to describe what I am experiencing – not knowing your precise outcome but feeling yourself changing by the day.
Leadership is such a complex alchemy and contains so many ingredients. Failing, so much personal failing on my part is such an ingredient. Do not be surprised when you cannot answer this simple question, often stumbling or giving a really pat short answer like “oh, it is going great” because where do you begin? Where do you end?
Perhaps I was thrown for a loop when my life wasn’t altered greatly for the better instantly as soon as I was awarded the fellowship. I’m perplexed that even though I told myself It was childish to believe in instant life change, part of me still believes in fables and magic and fairy tales and things that you put so so much effort and emphasis into, you are building them up no matter what you tell yourself. I held somewhere in my heart that being awarded this incredible honor and opportunity would relieve me of this imposter syndrome. The fellowship does not remove self-doubt, however your eyes can be open to a new way of seeing yourself. Mine eyes have been. I’ve allowed myself some grace, grace from even answering the question about what I am doing with the fellowship. I’ve allowed myself to not know the exact articulate perfect answer, I’ve allowed the unknown to stick with me, stand toe to toe with unknown.
So looking back reflecting over the past year. Where am I now? I’ve been able to keep myself focused on what is important, not merely the expectation of what should be important – a very important distinction for me. The answer, where is the heart for me? That was namely getting my family back. In order for that to happen, it took focus. It took me living up to the words or the idea that they were the most important thing to me. I am happy for that clarity.
Where am I now in terms of leadership, the technical of the fellowship?
I feel like I’m in a meditation of sorts. I’m in a state of awareness, have been able to shake off so much and just listen. I’m listening in conversations, conducting interviews with practitioners, humans, dynamic transformational people in the neighborhood and throughout the nation. I’ve been gathering stories of great value that I want to share. I’ve been in conversations with people I have respected and admired from afar that I’ve been able to reach. Under the auspice of this fellowship it’s been a bridge over my own impediments and over some of the social order of things. I’m not an imposter reaching out, I’m a Bush Fellow, providing ease to reach out even when you’re an introvert like me and gives me the proper excuse allows me to shake off the imposter.
And I am writing. I am writing as a manual or a book/manuscript, forming a collective of all these threads and thoughts. The formation is an intersection, new way of being and knowing it’s a formation of solutions based on how folks are living. This is a lived experience that has somehow never been cast as expertise. This type of lived experience has still not translated to public policy.
Oh, and the ability to study, its extraordinary! I’ve never studied like this before. I’ve been self- taught before on a number of occasions, but I’ve never studied like this – in a focused meditative way versus a hostile survival of the fittest way. When you’re self-taught to survive, there’s a different tenor to your learning, a different cut off point, a different type of immersion. You can’t quite immerse with one eye out for danger. You have to stay tactical for the most part you’re still learning but you’re not immersed. That was my experience. In the past, I could not be vulnerable as I learned and experienced. You can’t be vulnerable and be about hustle survival. This being vulnerable, it’s intense, it’s emotional, it’s my heart and my mind working together. It is extraordinary. There is no telling where this will take me, the end result. That’s exciting I feel OK with that. I do know the result will be a changed man, eyes seeing differently. I’m excited for the next year and well beyond.