Some of the best examples are simple.

In college, some 20 years ago, it was our job to think outside of the box. I was an art and psych major, fully open to soak in everything that lit my soul on fire. I set out to dig deep and have not stopped. My goal was to make sense of my past and to immerse myself in a creative environment that required me to stretch myself to the nth degree.

We were encouraged to illuminate and express parts of ourselves that others didn’t understand, in abstract ways. This kind of bravery and vulnerability was never met with the sheer resistance I see today in a world that is seemingly ruled by social media – a place where everyone is right or everyone is wrong (where no one ever meets on common ground in a field that lies between the two – rumi), where we are tempted to compare ourselves at every turn, where many seem to take growth as a personal threat to their existence, where many of the walking wounded react from a place of pain they have yet to face, where many judge others harshly because they have yet to recognize their very own face in the mirror, and most importantly … reject, shame and shun others for beliefs and lived experience simply because they, themselves, do not understand.

When we received criticism, every-single-day, we were encouraged to digest it and build on it, not to attack or shut down. It was usually constructive and even if wasn’t, we had built up thick skin and stamina to endure it. The daily critique challenged us to find that golden nugget of truth, to view it from multiple perspectives with respect, and to push our personal limits, without apology.

We grew. We thrived. We built a foundation. We embraced instinct and found our voice that enabled us to navigate the unknown.

This lesson was priceless.

We were all in it together.

And quite frankly, that is, was, and forever will be – reality.


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