“Another box of tissues please!! You’re writing makes me cry out of joy and love!! Thank you for making me feel so understood. In my thoughts, I didn’t think that others could understand me, but you do! It’s the kind and accepting nature of your soul. I’m very fortunate to have you in my life. Just in case you didn’t know that before, I’m confirming it again! In my mind, you’re magic!”

Allyship. It’s taken me some time to get my arms around this. Even given the nature of my work, finding the right balance of empowerment and advocacy is tricky. I don’t always get it right. I don’t always de-center myself in a situation. I don’t always choose the right words or actions. But one thing is certain…I don’t stop trying and I don’t stop listening. And then a message like the one above drops into my inbox and it’s validation. It’s not validation of me or that I got anything right. It’s validation that being present, accepting, and open to amplifying another’s voice, is a goal worth pursuing.

In actuality, there is nothing magic about me. I’m just a vessel, a catalyst, for which to help others challenge what they believe to be true about the world they live in. The ability to tell a story from an alternative point of view, even when the main character may believe there is no value in their story or that nobody will care or listen, is humbling. These opportunities are a gift. Philosopher and holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt said, “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” Herein lies the magic. It is the essence of the human condition.

To be an ally, one must immerse themselves in the stories and experiences of groups and individuals who identify differently. One must be courageous because sometimes it’s an uphill battle to get others to care or even empathize with a life experience that may be completely unrelatable. One must be willing to accept that they haven’t done enough or they’ve done too much, dust off the ego, and try again. I guarantee the trauma of getting it wrong is far less than the trauma of the person whose voice you are trying to amplify. Beauty is all around us. All we have to do is let it in.

Colorful diverse teamwork doodle, hand

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