One thing that I have realized about my leadership growth and development over the last year is how I tend to privately hold the journey that I am traveling close to me and not share with others. This has been an on-going conflict. Many times I am torn between shouting at the roof tops that I am a Bush Fellow and want the world to know all of the amazing things that I am doing. Other times, I only want to share my fellowship experience with people I really know and trust - people who know what Bush is, what it means to be a fellow, and who will have a full appreciation of how amazing and life changing it is.
I wonder if the fellows in my cohort have experienced this and how they have handled it, or if other past fellows have experienced it. When it comes to my fellowship work, there are two kinds of people that I come into contact with - the people in my network who are in "the know" and know what the Bush Fellowship program is, maybe they're past fellows, or know of people who have been fellows, or maybe they have applied before. They know how prestigious being a fellow is and fully celebrate that I am a fellow and are genuinely curious about the work that I am doing. The other folks in my network have never heard of the Bush Foundation and have no familiarity with what the fellowship program is, what purpose it serves, and usually when I tell them about being a fellow, they look at me with a blank face. Admittedly, it's with these people that I think in the back of my mind - it's a big deal! You should be more excited that Bush Fellows exist! But I don't. What I have learned is that not everyone will even care that I am a fellow and that it's okay to feel that way. Just because I have been chosen to do this once in a lifetime work doesn't mean that everyone will understand it.
This realization has in itself been a part of my leadership development. I continue to work on it as a Bush Fellow with a humble mindset and balance that with being able to celebrate my accomplishments. I know not everyone cares that I am a fellow. I know that not everyone will understand what disability justice is or fully appreciate the hard work I am doing to do transformational change using this lens. Knowing and accepting where people come from is a part of the Bush leadership experience that I have been on, and it has also been a part of the disability justice journey as well.