Saturday, November 19, 2016

What I Be Project/Joint Decisions Summit 2016

 “I am not my details.” 

In October, I had the privilege of attending the third Joint Decisions Blogger Summit. This year, we met in Philly, the city of Brotherly Love. So, we had to talk self-love! Many amazing things happened, we toured Janssen Pharmaceutical's lab (AMAZING EXPERIENCE), had great speakers share information on self-love, ate a lot, and we met Steve J Rosenfield, creator and photographer of the What I Be Project. Steve was very laid back and explained the purpose of the project, "The 'What I Be Project' is a social experiment turned into, what is now, a global movement about honesty and empowerment. In today’s society, we are often told to look or act a certain way. If we differ from these “standards,” we are often judged, ridiculed, bullied and sometimes even killed over them. I started this project in hopes to open up the lines of communication, and to help everyone accept diversity with an open mind & heart and empower those who feel they suffer for something they may see as a flaw."

Our goal at the summit was to write down a few insecurities we have about ourselves. With everyone in the room having rheumatoid arthritis, that was easy. But I think we were able to look outside of the obvious and into some deep things. For me, it ended up being that I am not a detail oriented person. I try hard, but in general, I don't care about details. They bore me. However, there are consequences to not having an interest in details. The one that often bothers me the most is I feel inferior because I don't have details to spout out and often have to reeducate myself on the same details again and again. I am a feelings person. I realize that about myself, but feelings aren't always the goal of a get together. I find that in my profession, my strengths work well because I help students to feel comfortable in a classroom setting they haven't been in for years, but around other teachers, I can feel like I just don't have enough information to share. My information gets stored in my heart as feelings and observations, not in my mind as informational facts.

I am going to be honest, I felt a little vulnerable doing this project which surprised me. As a feelings person, this is my kind of thing. I shared one other insecurity with Steve, in private, but this is the one I knew has been lifelong and one that I brought with me to the summit. Being part of the Joint Decisions team is so awesome, but as I pack up to go, this insecurity always jumps in my bag and follows me to the summits because I know I will be sitting in a roomful of some of the most professional RA bloggers ever who seem to know EVERYTHING. How do people keep so many details in their brains???

In the end, I loved this project and it has stayed with me. When I met privately with Steve, I left feeling like a weight had been lifted. Finally I had shared this with someone else. He made me feel so at ease that I wanted to sit and tell him every insecurity I had!  When everyone had met with him, he presented the entire group's photos. WOW! WOW! WOW! I wasn't alone. We all have hidden insecurities. It was empowering to know other strong people in the group felt scared, worried, and alone. Plus, I have noticed by owning this insecurity, I have actually felt a little more okay with it. In a recent job review I even mentioned it as a weakness and felt okay with it. It was almost like the insecurity had been owned and them its magnitude reduced so I could focus on more of what I am doing right.  

I love these people! 
My favorite take-away from the summit was meeting with a friend who had a terrible appointment with her surgeon. I found myself saying, "Things are changing. Patients are gaining a voice." This is what Joint Decisions gives me. I feel like I have a voice as a patient.