Thursday, March 31, 2011

An army of one.

I've realized that I am a person who says some unpopular things.

I haven't always been this person. Growing up, I always took this "don't rock the boat" kind of attitude. I think it's been a natural progression in growing up for me though. My brother used to tease me about being contrary, but really, I think I am just way more of a radical than I thought.

What's also important to note about me is that I am an INFJ, emphasis on the I. I'm an introvert. You people exhaust me. Yet somehow I live for people. Funny how we work that way.

So as an introvert, I've had a few experiences over the past couple of weeks that have been naturally very difficult for me. First was the experience at the Endangered Species Summit. That was super hard for me to do. I received an overwhelming response, which was great, but I know not everyone in that room was a fan of what I said.

Secondly, I ran a workshop this past Monday at NYU Silver's common day for second year students. Common day is supposed to be a chance for students to learn things about social justice they wouldn't necessarily have the chance to in the classroom. I did a presentation on fat bias, titled "Fat is a Social Work Issue." I thought it went well.

I also received an overwhelming response. Several people came up to me and talked to me about how excited they were someone was talking about this issue, that throughout their entire graduate school experience the topic was never brought up. But I have heard from one of my mentors that some students were not happy with what I said. In fact, they are quite angry with what I said. But no one said anything at the presentation. No one spoke up. I wasn't given the chance to start a real dialogue.

And I know not everyone is willing to be that person who says unpopular things. And speaking out against my presentation would have probably been unpopular in that room. But me, being me, would have loved it. I would have welcomed it. I feel like that is where real work gets done, right in the nitty gritty of disagreeing. Maybe it's the contrarian in me.

I'm just sort of bummed about it. My mentor encouraged them to contact me, but so far no one has, and I can't blame them. I also can't blame myself. The presentation wasn't perfect, but it's my first time, and hell, I'm a first year social work student.

Anyway. I think I am just experiencing some burn out. And to some degree, I do feel a little bit alone in my endeavor. Fortunately, I met some fellow social work students who feel passionately about this cause, and I plan to reach out to them. Sometimes being a leader means you are the only one, but one is the loneliest number, right?


  1. You have my support. Having a social worker teaching others about fat bias is so needed right now.

  2. I can definitely relate with you on the whole saying unpopular things. It's hard but sometimes it's worth it. I'm happy for you that you had a good response but for those people who are angry at what you said hopefully they will approach you about it. And again, I can relate with being an introvert but living for people and working with them. Lately I've been working a crapload and not having much time to myself, lol. Anyway you definitely have my support. :)

  3. I can understand your despair, but believe me you are doing great things! It has taken me moving into my 40's to be willing to be more outspoken and shake things up a bit with saying something that might be unpopular.

    I think the steps you've taken to create a network of colleagues who are also looking at the fat acceptance issue is amazing.

    I say, take a moment of self care (hopefully writing about it as you just have will help) and remember there are many other army's of one walking along beside you.

    cheers to you!

  4. I think what you have done was so important and extremely brave of you. I'm sorry that I missed your workshop...regretfully, there were too many good ones going on at the same time.

    Please try not to take it to heart that a few people disagreed or did not like what you the expression goes, you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people, all of the time.

    Furthermore, try to step back for a second and think about what you had wanted to achieve here. You had wanted to bring more attention/awareness to the issue of fat bias and you have succeeded.

    If you have led to some controversy that is behind the scenes for now, try to see the good in this - it means the topic remains percolating amongst students; it means that the students haven't just listened to what you have shared and forgotten about it; it means they will be continuing to discuss and perhaps argue about it amongst themselves. This is good!

    At a later point, perhaps at a subsequent workshop that you may lead, the students who have questions may take a risk and question you...or perhaps based upon what happened this time, you will take the lead and say to your audience, I want to hear your reactions/thoughts; I won't get hurt feelings if you disagree with what I've been sharing...

    In short, feel proud of yourself for taking the lead as a first year student to have raised such an important topic that has historically never been addressed! Kudos to you :)

  5. Part of me wonders if getting people angry was the first step.

    I think that sometimes people won't challenge you if they are angered because maybe they do not know the best way to express their discontent. They don't like what you are suggesting, but they do not know why. Next steps might help with that plan.

    I also think, sometimes, that a plan everyone agrees to is doomed from the start. Where is the incentive to pull through there?

    In any case, I'm glad you're writing. This blog is sweet :)

  6. Hi, I follow you on twitter and decided to check out your blog. This post is great. I am also a person who says unpopular things unintentionally. I think it is important to be real, and when you are you get to understand yourself and other people better. It's true that many people don't like to rock the boat, but as we grow, we have to learn to accept other peoples opinions even if we don't agree with them.
    Don't be so hard hard on yourself :)
    Great blog
    Come check out mine if you want :)