This past weekend I had an interesting experience. Unrelated to politics but it was at a political event. The thing that happened was more of a realization and a sense of greater understanding of who I am and not to be afraid of being that person.
The experience goes a little bit like this: There was a panel discussion. Two individuals began the panel with their speeches and perspectives. After the 2 presentations, people were allowed to comment. I sat there debating with myself on two issues 1) Should I leave now to go the bathroom or wait until after? and 2) Should I ask the question I really want to ask?
It was kind of a hard decision to make because well I really wanted to go to the bathroom and I really wanted to ask the question. My question was, how do Aboriginal women fit into the whole concept of social cohesion? The 2 presentations talked about this concept of social cohesion. Social cohesion, according to the presentations, was related to environment, health, education, demographics, and solidarity. I kept hearing, youth, elders, and older women. I mean, those are all important. Really, they are. But what about young women, especially young, single women with children? Or what about single men?
Anyways, I asked a question relating to Aboriginal women relating to my lived experiences only because I know a lot of other females who have those same experiences. I was nervous not because I am scared to talk in public or ask questions. I was nervous because this was the first time I shared those experiences in a public domain. Some people think that when others share their experiences that they are calling out for attention. When I share my experiences, it has nothing to do with a cry for attention. I just want others to not be afraid of their own experiences because honestly, some experiences can be really scary and even more scary if you have to live with them on your own.
After I was done asking my question and sharing my experiences, I was more relieved. When I sat down, the woman sitting next to me shared with me she had experienced something similar and I could see the tears in her eyes. Then another woman walked up to me and said that she wanted to talk to me, she was doing work that helped women. Not too long after, another woman walked up to me and asked me what it was I was doing now and thanked me for sharing my story and asking the question. The best part of the experience was having Dr. Carolyn Bennett highlighting to the audience that we must remember that women may experience discrimination, but Aboriginal women may receive double, if not triple discrimination (being Aboriginal, being a woman, and maybe having a disability).
The greatest lesson I learned was that people shouldn’t be afraid to share their lived experiences, whether it is good or bad. Someone might learn from it or at least gain a different perspective based on the lived realities. But remember, people who judge people based on their lived experiences are those that are most uncomfortable with their own–don’t worry about them.