by Lizbet Palmer
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I moved to Dallas two years ago, and as any of you who have moved to a new place know, finding community is essential to an improved sense of well-being. Fortunately for me, some new friends of mine frequented Union, and introduced me to it. I started going for coffee, and like many others in the Union community, got pulled in more.
Just over a year ago, I was invited to a launch party for a new, Union backed organization. FLOW. This is an organization created by women, for women. I applied to be part of their first class and was accepted, and what followed was two semesters of monthly workshops, volunteer opportunities, and general camaraderie and community. We discussed everything from workplace sexism to what feminism actually is. I learned how to talk about my feminism, and that each feminist is as unique as the things she is passionate about. Our time together ended in a Naked Stage performance (learn more about the Naked Stage here). The following is a transcript from my own performance on how FLOW impacted my life. Thank you, Union, for making it possible for this to happen.
I think we've all heard of the bad dream trope, you're standing in front of a room full of people, doing something important, when suddenly you feel their stares.
Maybe they start laughing.
You feel a cool breeze, look down, and realize that you stand before them naked, ashamed.
Because what else are you supposed to feel when suddenly others see all of who you are?
Every flaw, every vulnerability, every secret part that you hold close.
And I think we believe that if others see us for who we truly are, they will try to destroy us, piercing all of our soft, hidden parts.
So we put on armor and we all go out into the world and pretend it isn't there even though, underneath that armor, we're all pretty similar.
I can't say much, I have my own suits of armor.
I was born in Namibia, and I grew up moving around. I learned to change cultures as easily and quickly as I change my underwear.
My suits of armor became easy to put on and take off, and I quickly learned how to be who others thought I should be.
The problem with that was I didn't know who I was when it was just me, naked.
My adult life has been me trying to figure out who I am.
The way I've been trying to accomplish that is to get naked with other people.
(To be clear here, naked is definitely a metaphor)
Last year, I joined a group of women who wanted to get naked together.
(Again, a metaphor)
No one was forced to be naked. No one judged for being more naked or less naked on any given day.
We were just allowed to be.
Because of that we were able to grow in the ways that we needed.
We learned together, laughed together, cried together, got angry at the world together, tried to change the world together,
And it was beautiful.
We started to expose ourselves to each other.
We started to take off our armor, one piece at a time.
Now I can't say that I have this whole being naked thing figured out.
I'm still learning who I am.
But it's becoming a lot easier to choose when to take the armor off and when to leave it on.
Thanks to that group and many others, I am one step closer to being out in the world,
Naked and unashamed.