Lessons & Accomplishments
Life without lessons is life without learning.
There are so many lessons to learn from this case study. For myself and for others. And some of the lessons do not come from book learning, but rather from life learning. From having the experience and reflecting on what went right, what went wrong and what could be done differently the next time.
My first lesson:
Don't wait. It shouldn't have taken me a week to become an active participant in changing the environment I was in. I wasn't confident. I was thinking too big. But I learned that change doesn't need a big fancy initiative, it just needs action. Period. I have learned to take action. Quickly.
My second lesson:
Do not be afraid to make mistakes. You absolutely will. You will do or say the wrong thing. Many times. This is part of the human condition. We are imperfect on our best days. Own your mistakes and they will teach you how to be humble, how to be real. When I first began talking to people about the transgendered community, I stammered and I stumbled. I had never been a big talker, and certainly not one to initiate a conversation of any kind. But I didn't give up. I couldn't answer everything, but I knew to admit when I didn't have all of the information.
My third lesson:
You do not have to know everything to start something. Some changes shouldn't wait. Some changes can't wait. Trust your gut. You'll know when change needs to be immediate. Go in and make an honest, stumbling effort. It might mean the world to someone even if they never knew it was you.
My fourth and final lesson:
I know there is a book out there titled, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and I have never read it, but I live by the title. It is very easy to get caught up in the details, the never ending minute things that act as setbacks, roadblocks and distractions. Don't let it get to you and never let it stop you. I had people approach me with outright hostility, others with less obvious anger but equally obvious incredulity--I didn't let it stop me, the conversations just took longer to get to a more conducive playing field.
Even now, as I near the end of my M.Ed. program I find it easier to take responsibility for my mistakes and less so for my accomplishments. It's a culture thing. A hold over from the days of female oppression, just in a more subtle form. For me and for many woman, when something goes right, or when we are successful at something, we blush, we stammer, we make excuses like somehow this good fortune had nothing to do with us. It was a happy accident. Perhaps this paragraph should be part of lessons, not only should we take ownership of our mistakes but also of our accomplishments.
My First Accomplishment:
I am here. In this. Right now.
I am completing this case study if it kills me in the process. I have faced a mountain of setbacks since this began some weeks ago. Two migraines. Each days long. An intense workload as my boss has prepared to travel extensively and globally for the next six weeks. And then just a day ago, I was in a bad accident. I totaled my car. And I refuse with every fiber of my being to let any of this stop me. I may not be able to nod my head, or touch my toes, my head is an explosion of pressure and my temples are throbbing... but (insert explicative) my fingers are not broken. I can still type!
My Second Accomplishment:
I stepped out of my comfort zone. I intentionally talked to people! Real live people. In person. Me. The quiet observer. The bookish introvert. The artist. And I haven't stopped talking since. This has proven critical to my life. To my education. My career. And I think too, that it has proven invaluable to my greatest desire--to be an agent of change.
My Third and Most Cherished Accomplishment:
I was a grain of sand with the dream of moving mountains. Well really, just one mountain. And not even a big mountain. More like a hill. But no, this doesn't adhere to my demand to own my accomplishments. It was a mountain, but not just one. It was a range. And I was at the foot of the first hill. But oh what a hill it was. And I think here that my greatest accomplishment was not so much what it has done for me, and not even what I may have accomplished for a single person in the transgender community, but it was that I created other grains of sand. Others who in my absence would use their own voice to create change. And that is a truly awesome thing. And I am both proud of it and humbled by it.