Vulnerability: not optional for social justice leadership

3 years ago this month…my world collapsed.

Y’all. Not gonna lie. November 2017 was arguably the devastating month of my professional career. That month ranks in the top 3 worst times of my entire life across professional, personal, and all other contexts. Things got hopeless real quick. I had chosen to make myself vulnerable to rejection. Let’s just say the (public) rejection was swift, unforgiving, and knocked me on my ass in a way I could never see coming.

What did I do? I gave myself one month to grieve deep personal pain and loss. And then, I got super clear that my vulnerability and social justice values as a leader were NOT the problem.

As my wise friend reminded me (thank you Desi Rios), they weren’t ready for my jelly. The rejection I experienced was firmly grounded in other people’s (perhaps unconscious) discomfort with my social justice leadership. December 2017 was a major turning point in my life to intentionally choose my own vulnerability. Claim it. Own it. Use it as my super power to work toward anti-racism, LGBTQ+ rights, disability inclusion, and justice in all the systems designed to squash my voice (and others’ voices). Honestly, the dark place of Nov. 2017 slapped me across the face in a way that woke me up and snapped me into action to choose my dreams.

No one could have convinced me 3 years ago that I would be fortunate enough to spend my days in my DREAM job/career!! In those moments when your own openness, authenticity, transparency, or just being you is met with toxicity, I understand the temptation to retreat, withdraw, and become small.

But you can make a choice to live what you love, stay true to your values, and keep humility and vulnerability at the core of your social justice leadership. 

Maybe you are going through one of these professional dark times right now. My hope is that my own 3-years later story will help lighten your load or help you look past the current moment (which hurts and sucks) to the life you want to build.

Learn more about the White Anti-Racism and Action course I created for white allies.
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