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Currency exchange between the corporate and creative worlds

My decade in the corporate world has taught me a lot about how to always present myself successfully (there are no bad days), to project my voice in a boardroom where I am constantly talked over by people who look nothing like me, and to make the weather sound like the most interesting topic I care about because the real issues are too "controversial" ..shhh. 

It is an exhausting facade of trying to prove how great we all are because the opportunities would escape us otherwise (since when has hard work been a reliable determinant of the number of doors opened?). My exposure to the Arts and creative community in recent years has pushed me to unpack this survival toolkit in a profound and self-critical way.

In these safe spaces, the question asked is not "What do you do?", but rather, "Tell me about your life". You mean, who am I outside of my financial contribution to the economy? I silenced that answer long ago, buried it somewhere behind my elevator pitch. This is going to take some work.

We are encouraged to bring our full and authentic selves into a judgment-free zone as determined by the community guidelines that we collectively create. You don't have to "earn" acceptance from your peers and leadership - it is given to you upon entering the space as a basic human right. Here, we can be as vulnerable and transparent and imperfect as we choose.

There is a call for all of us to recognize our power and privilege among fellow artists and human beings. Let us not forget that we are all accountable for holding space for those from whom it has been taken. While learning how best to market our own work, we are reminded to create opportunities for others to take centre stage because our success as a community is incumbent upon solidarity and allyship with all who seek social justice. That means, no one gets left behind.

While these are all aspirational values in which to operate, they require me to undo conditioned instincts such that I balance the exercise of my voice with my active listening skills. That where I have a platform to stand up for myself, I also support others who are marginalized. That I acknowledge and try to amend the paradoxes in which I find myself intertwined (ie. I am tolerant, but I am intolerant of intolerance).

When I leave these creative spaces with new forms of currency with which to navigate the other realms of my life, I feel both liberated in having allowed myself to be flawed and a sense of responsibility to take back what I have unraveled in myself to disrupt the status quo with renewed hope and courage. 

Image Credit: 

unsplash-logoDaniel Apodaca