a "unique" declaration

As a girl, I prided myself on standing out. I liked listening to the music my parents loved because none of my friends liked it. If my friends liked a band, I purposefully cultivated a taste for the opposite. Even then, I tried to be cool and act as though not fitting in was something I wanted, a badge I'd earned for speaking too loudly and having too many opinions. As a teenager I was full of distrust. I hid my body under oversized clothes and ace bandages. I was afraid of attention, especially from boys. Later, in college, I found my voice, and in many ways my tribe for that time period. I returned to my girlhood ways, prided myself on being smart but also discovered ways to flirt and lose myself in other's expectations. It seems I have always been a little bit on edge. I remember a friend telling me that when she met me she thought I was dangerous because I had no regard for boundaries. I blazed through to the core of people, she said, "No time for bullshit." People considered me tough, a kind of kick-ass girl who took shots for breakfast and recited Shakespeare soliloquies at noon. And I liked that version of me. I wanted to be her, cool, reserved. Being that way, however, made me numb. And that worked for me, for a while... until it didn't.

I've had immense difficulty reconciling the professional me who challenges students to think for themselves, who pushes them to resist and rebel against all that society tells them, with the open and vulnerable version of myself I want to be. I've always lived between a tension of what I should/could be and who I am.

In the last few years, I've realized the importance of "leaning in" to the madness. My life is always like this, always pulled in a million directions because I'm always in the midst of chaos. The core of who I am is in intersected threads.

I see the world in big picture terms because I've known darkness. I see connections others miss and am aware that who I am has been uniquely shaped not just by experiences but my actions and reactions to events in my life.

I embrace my complexity and my contradictions. I am not ”neither nor” but ”both and.” I am both intellectual and silly, both deep and shallow. I am emotional and rational. I am sometimes kind but often selfish. My power comes from my sense of justice, of what I believe in and am passionate about. I am bold and almost always take the long way around.

I am inspired by those who are vulnerable and open, intellectual and emotional. I am inspired by all of you.