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Brittany Piper

We have all been affected by trauma: violence, disease, injustice, poverty. I believe that these certain events in our lives (both in personal and societal spheres) resonate with us and inspire us to change the world for the better. Some of us just lack the courage and insight to step out into our calling.

For myself, it was an unfortunate event of sexual violence that caused me to rethink how I wanted to live and participate in the world. It was this event that made me change my college major and career path so that I could pursue more meaningful work in the empowerment of women.

As some of us wade into 2017 with a deep sense of fear, anger and heartbreak, we must consider how to react to the circumstances which brought us here, especially when they seed in us a desire to implement positive change. My proposal: embrace your vulnerability on the path to discovering your own calling. Here are three steps to getting started:

1. Spend time alone

To pursue work that’s meaningful to you, you must truly know your own heart and identity. What do you stand for? What are you passionate about? For myself, spending six months travelling and working overseas allowed me to explore my passions and identity while stripped of societies definition of who I was. Back home, I was so consumed with what others were doing or what others thought that I lost touch with Me.

By literally unplugging from the world I was most comfortable in, I was able to spend time tending to the greening of my own identity. It was in this vulnerable state that I learned who Brittany was without a screen in her face, a phone in her hand or a person by her side. No one was there to tell me what to think or who to be. As I ventured inward, I noticed how quiet the world got and how loud and clear my voice became. I met Me for the first time. Now, I’m not suggesting you have to relocate to the other side of the globe as I did, I’m simply saying spend time with You more often. It could be getting outside, reading, writing or meditating. Seek space where you can really hear yourself.

2. Take Risks

To take risks is to trust in the unknowing. I believe that if we knew what was on the other side of each decision, we wouldn’t be taking a risk. For instance, it took me moving away from my loved ones and working three different jobs in three different countries to figure out where my passions truly lied. Only through this trial and error was I able to truly learn more about my calling to meaningful work. Yes, taking risks is scary and it leaves you incredibly vulnerable. However, I encourage you to embrace it. If you fail, just chalk it up to a shitty first (or even a second or third) draft. Taking risks allows you to discover the growth in your failures and ultimately your journey.

3. Stay Open

I urge you to keep your heart open to all experiences, all relationships, all different cultures and points of view. It’s true that to leave yourself constantly open and undefended to others also allows you to be vulnerable to hurt. In relation, the term vulnera comes from the Latin meaning “to wound.” But what if you experience the opposite? What if by leaving yourself open to all experiences and people, you are gifted with the ability to expand, change, and grow? Aim to step out of your comfort zone and place yourself in other’s shoes. You may just find that this world shares more commonalities than differences. Be willing to learn from everyone and everything.

I believe that now more than ever, as the next generation of leaders, millennials are striving and aspiring to do more than just live, but rather live and show up with purpose. As you continue to step into this new year and perhaps your new calling, seek to appreciate the vulnerability you feel. Life’s trials and struggles will always be unfolding, but always remember to pursue a meaningful and courageous response.

Learn more about our speaker, Brittany Piper and her story: campuspeak.com/speakers/brittany.