We are sharing our own thoughts in response to this month’s prompt (Refer back to The Invitation if you have questions about what we’re doing here). Tiffany Smith shares her thoughts on our prompt:
What are the elements of community that allow you to be authentically you?
What is community? Community is when a sense of togetherness has been established among a group of humans. Under this definition, community can happen quite quickly, and is fluid. Contextual. I also believe in our collective will, which means really, we are all part of a community.
What’s “authentic self?”
To be willing to say the thing that needs saying, to be willing to put out how I truly feel about a topic, and to provide reasonable and personal context for my beliefs.
Who am I “my authentic self” around?
Being authentic around best friends and close family members is easiest. However, I also find that I’m authentic around my students… and eventually many of my clients. I tend to be goofy, share things I enjoy and am not a fan of… share my values. When my students and my clients see me as me, they tend to engage more authentically themselves.
So, what are the elements of community that give room for authenticity?
Presence… my/others’ awareness within the context, acknowledging what community expectations are, and then embracing or letting go of those expectations. Reflecting on who I am in-context can help me to be authentic in that space.
Empathy and receptivity… I find that I tend to be my authentic self when there are opportunities for engaging in relationship. In fact, without this, authenticity is almost impossible. This brings me to…
Necessity… I am authentically me because I feel I have to be. I’m generally an introvert; I don’t find myself sharing personal details freely. However, as an educator and evaluator, it would be a disservice if I didn’t fully engage clients and students as humans. It would be a disservice for me to not recognize myself and be authentic. This ties to my privilege as a white female United States citizen with a doctoral degree. My belonging to these communities changes perceptions and communication in each context. The world is a mess, and we with privilege need to be voices speaking against further oppression.
One thought on “Community in Context”
I find this quote to be especially poignant, “when my students and my clients see me as me, they tend to engage more authentically themselves.” I think this is critical to leveraging privilege. If I can be cognizant of my privileges when I interact with people who do not have those same privileges, I am better able to be open to my own humanity and the humanity of others. This can lead to me being more open to feedback, more intentional in asking for other’s experiences with me, and puts me in a much better position to reflect on my behavior and interactions. I believe that when people see me interacting in these ways, with humanity and authenticity, it allows for the ability to engage in dialog and action that is anti-oppressive.
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