I’m not entirely sure who I’m starting this series of articles for exactly; maybe it’s for you, to find some small spark of hope, inspiration, comfort, in the reflections I’m going to share, or maybe it’s for me, I who, as many of us these days, just need to make more space and creative room to share my feelings. Ultimately, I hope these reflections leave us both feeling a little better.
In P.I of Positive Pandemic Ponderings, I’m going to cover the topics of digital shyness, vulnerability, and chile spiced mangos (I promise it’s all related – especially the mangos– bear with me).
For years I’ve been what you could call “digitally shy” – I rarely post on Instagram (had to look up “how to post an IG story” last year, to give you an idea…), only just started actively Tweeting, and am now trying to understand how much I want to give of my personal life/thoughts to the online world. For a while I’ve wanted to start being more vulnerable on social media, motivated by the inspiration I’ve found when other women are authentic and raw online, and now motivated by the loss of in-person conversations with friends that have long defined my well-being, I knew I wanted to use my voice more online, carve out opportunities for solidarity grounded in vulnerability. The question was not when, but how. How would I start? Where? In truth I didn’t really expect LinkedIn to be that space for me, but something happened a few weeks ago, and I found myself needing a space where it just “felt right” to share my feelings. And that space, a few weeks ago, was LinkedIn.
Last week, I shared one of my first ever more vulnerable LinkedIn post. Since posting, my reflection has been viewed by 3,500+ people – the biggest audience I’ve ever had on LinkedIn – and prompted numerous people in my network and beyond to reach out in appreciation of my vulnerability.
But the truth is that I almost didn’t share my reflection. I copied the whole post into my personal notes, deleted it on LinkedIn, and walked away from my computer to grab my Trader Joe’s chile spiced mangos for an afternoon snack. They’ve been my favorite quarantine snack. The perfect mix of spicy and sweet to kick your palette back to life – a good alternative boost to coffee, if your spice-threshold is pretty low like mine. The flavors brought me back to the post: why couldn’t I be upfront like these mangos? What I love about them is the immediate impact of a “you get what you get” and “no bullsh**t” flavor. They make a statement, and that’s it. Why was I scared to do the same? The thought brought me back to freshman year of college, and a piece of wisdom that has throughout the years helped me stop censoring myself and “just make a statement.” My freshman year of college, in asking one of my professors, Farha, what advice she had for me that she wished every freshman coming into college knew, she shared something that stuck with me through the years and ultimately empowered me to hit “post” on LinkedIn:
“Don’t censor yourself. Just speak. When you’re contemplating whether to raise your voice, just do it. If you have something to say, then say it. Too often I see students with meaningful thoughts stay silent, but it’s often those that are silent that have something to say.”