I had the fortune of empowering girls all week at rock and roll camp for girls san diego. Last year transformed me so much that I accepted a position on the board for the camp. This year I led three talks. One of the talks was called "Image and Identity".
Developing this powerpoint was challenging. I saw my own "stuff" come up. I got to a slide touching on the idea that we all have what I called "identifiers". That it's not our image that matters at all. It's all the beautiful ways we identify ourselves. How we can look in the mirror and say "That's me right now". Our descriptors. I talked about how different we are.
As I was building the powerpoint I dragged in the image. It was an image of me rocking hard. Then, I brainstormed. I just started writing down the first things that came to my mind. What am I? These were my gut responses:
Female. Musician. 34. Caucasian. Lesbian. Bipolar 1. Change Maker.
I looked at the slide. A picture of me to the left with my list of identifiers to the right. My first thought? But...what would they think. The kids. The parents. I backspaced two descriptors. Lesbian and Bipolar 1. I looked at this new, shorter list. My first thought? But...that is not all of me.
I felt like there was a tiny part of me somewhere thinking there is something wrong with being a lesbian. That there is something wrong with having mental illness.
I stared off. I felt conflicted. I cried. The theme for rock camp this year was Power. I had to find mine on the day of that talk. My re-revised longer list showed up on the screen. I didn't go into too much detail on any descriptor. I just stated the facts and moved on. Female. Musician. 34. Lesbian...I thought... "Cool. I got through it and no one asked questions".
I thought it ended at that. I asked them to share some of their own descriptors. A few were mentioned. 15 years old. Loves basketball. Swimmer.
Then my worst fear happened. Gender and Orientation were brought up. Bisexual. Non-binary. This was a kind of vulnerability I had never experienced. Is this ok to be talking about right now? What will they think? What will they tell their parents? And then I felt something inside me stir. A voice that said, "This needs to be talked about".
Who knows what next years camp will be like.
It was a space of vulnerability with one another. A space where everyone could just be themselves. A space where everyone totally rocked.