September 8th, Day 1 of the course.
The usual administrative start, admin and introductions. I introduced myself to the group by giving a little bit of information about myself. I was not surprised to find the old anxieties rising at the prospect of introducing myself to a new group of people. I had done the pre-reading on authentic value and the encouragement to tell our own story.
Holding onto this, I briefly described the traumatic early school experiences that led me to leave school at the age of 14, feeling very much a failure who had not lived up to expectations. I contrasted this with the educational success I was to achieve a few decades later, obtaining a Ph.D. at the age of 38, writing a critical account of truancy and the harm that schools to do very many people. I felt then and continue to feel that my reasons for doing this course were very personal. Like the Ph.D., an ongoing process of claiming my right to speak in the world and to be taken seriously.
I dialed out of this first session feeling excited and inspired by the stories I had heard from this diverse group of very interesting people. I was also just that little bit intimidated- so many young and powerful women taking charge of themselves and their environments in ways that ‘showed up’ the Me that I was when I was their age. Who would I be today if I had possessed their courage and chutzpah when I was their age? I took huge comfort in knowing that feminism has been making a difference and that the world was in pretty good hands with these thinkers and activists in it!
I am giving myself permission to just “be” in this course- nothing to prove. This course is the one place in my life at the moment that is entirely mine and I’m doing this for me. I am encouraged by (George et al, Harvard Business Review 2007 p. 1): “We all have the capacity to inspire and empower others. But we must first be willing to devote ourselves to our personal growth and development as leaders”.
It would be nice if in the end I connect to people and ideas that will grow into a wider-world changing project but I’m making a decision to invest in working out what I need to continue to process to develop myself.