Conflict and criticism have always made me uncomfortable. Through high school, I typically stayed silent in class debates for fear of rebuttal and almost always avoided conflict if I could. I strongly disliked arguments — to this day, I still do — and would withhold my own opinions in order to avoid what I perceived to be open conflict.
This conflict-avoidance trait may not be what you expect to find from the Co-Editor in Chief of a student publication, but nevertheless, it is a part of who I am. In fact, it is this trait that has pushed me further and harder this year to become vulnerable with my decisions and opinions.
The discursive theme for the Weather Vane this school year has been “listening with vulnerability.” As a staff, we have sought out and printed articles about bridging the gap between political differences, vulnerability in faith, bravery in communicating about conflict, rejecting political binaries, and upholding minority voices.
We have tried to be vulnerable in our own listening process by inviting our authors to reflect on their unique and personal experiences and by seeking perspectives from all corners of campus. The degree of our success we leave for you to decide, but know that we have tried.
Co-editing, in and of itself, has been a journey in vulnerability for me this year. Becoming the face of a student publication is a scary thing. Writing an editorial every other week, for me, is even scarier.
I still am not used to having my thoughts and words printed in public, visible for anyone to read, judge, and criticize openly. I have spent many sleepless nights wondering things like, “How will this word choice be taken?” or “Will this group be offended by what I wrote?” fearing that I will wake up the following morning ostracized and disrespected.
Over and over again, I have found the opposite to be true. Certainly, there have been times when my published mistakes had an unintended hurtful effect, but for the most part, my vulnerability in writing has paid off. Rather than closing doors of communication, opening myself to criticism has allowed students, faculty, and staff to approach me at a place of common ground and establish relationships with me.
Thank you, campus community, for being gracious in engaging with my fallacies and pieces of wisdom alike, and holding me in your own space of acceptance. The countless conversations I have had this year with people who come from many different places on a variety of spectrums have taught me more about this community than I thought possible.
I feel privileged to exist in a position that holds such an immense potential for dialogue. As an editor in chief of the Weather Vane, I sit at the intersection of many conversations on campus and have continually been impressed this year by the depth and quality of these conversations — often from unexpected places. I can only hope that I, in hearing and engaging with your voices, have in turn demonstrated what it means to “listen with vulnerability.”