Yesterday, I witnessed one of the greatest acts of courage I’ve seen, since we’ve begun doing these SameHere programs all over the country, & beyond.
We were at Saint Xavier U, in Illinois, presenting to their football team (approx 100 student athletes). So we had a large group of big boys – Midwest young men, along w a portion of the women’s softball team. Not exactly the easiest room to open up & share vulnerability in.
About half-way in the session, I had them participate in an exercise to show them how much the “1 in 5” msg in this space, just alienates the group of “1’s” & makes the other group of “4’s” say: “not my problem.”
I randomly selected 5 members of the football team to stand up, turn arnd. They did not volunteer. I just came in the audience & told them to stand up. I asked all 5 to turn arnd & reveal something VERY personal – a big challenge they’ve faced in life, to the whole group.
The 5 typically freak out – faces turn white. But then I told 4 of the 5 to sit down, & not to worry, they didn’t have to share. I kept the 1, standing up by himself. Asked the 4 sitting down, how they felt now that they didn’t have to share: “relieved, whew, wipe their brow.”
Then I asked the 1 standing, how it feels to be alone. USUALLY that student’s freaks out – “you’re really gonna make me be the only one? On an island?”
But serendipity is a funny thing. This one young man said – yeah totally get the point & I do feel singled out, but can I share. I’d like to. Of course I said yes.
He turned arnd (& it was beautiful bc he revealed so much, w/o revealing too much). He said – growing up, when you see an adult put a gun in their own mouth enough times, threatening, first it frightens you beyond belief. Then you just become numb, from constantly being wrought in fear. And now, bc of those experiences, I never take a single play on the field for granted. I appreciate every single moment to play…run thru a wall no matter what.
He turned back to me w tears. I came to give him a hug. He told me he’s never shared that publicly before. Courage more impt than fear of judgment.