I’ll be frank, I broke down crying in the middle of a meeting with some very influential leaders in my community.

Most people would find that super embarrassing and awkward and probably wouldn’t want to show up to another meeting. Like come on, I was extremely vulnerable, who likes being vulnerable in a room full of literal strangers who you talk to like once a month. And it especially doesn’t feel good when you’re the youngest in the room.

I was sobbing, borderline snot wanting to drip down my face as I choked on my feelings, the words that I was trying to get across. And the funny thing was I kept apologizing for it. “I’m sorry for crying, I didn’t mean to cry, I was trying to hold it in.” Like what type of social standards are there that made me feel BAD for being emotional.

We were talking about problems that are going on in our community. Problems that affect my loved ones and me. Of course I would get emotional, especially when some people in that virtual meeting didn’t seem to care, like I knew they cared but it didn’t feel like it, I didn’t feel supported — I didn’t have any trust in my new team.

But that’s when I truly realized I was wrong, I did have people supporting me in that conversation. I wasn’t alone, yes I might have been the most emotional but I wasn’t the only passionate one. And all of us, even for a second, leaned into that vulnerability. Creating an opportunity to help bring my team together. Because nothing moves forward in any team’s mission if there is no trust, no clear communication, no respect and no vulnerability. No vulnerability to be wrong, to not be knowledgeable, to not be experienced, to not be emotional/passionate. There’s a reason people create teams, to bring like-minded/driven? but very diverse individuals to create a powerful team. To teach each other, to learn from each other, to cover each others weaknesses, to empower each other.

So that’s why, don’t be afraid to trust new people, don’t be afraid to lean into your vulnerability, you don’t have to literally cry your heart out in a meeting like me, but speak your mind, ask those questions, push yourself and your team into the uncomfortable, into a place that will bring everyone to a the next level, to new growth.