This semester I have the privilege to join other SFU students in the 2018 Civic Innovation Change Lab, presented together by Radius SFU, SFU Beedie School of Business, CityStudio, and SFU Semester in Dialogue. I will definitely be reflecting a lot more on my experience in the Change Lab as the semester goes on, but suffice it to say that I am super excited for what is to come in the semester ahead!
This semester’s Change Lab will focus on the topic of urban economic resilience: the future of work, “gig” economies, automation and AI, and how this will impact our cities and populations. Using design thinking, business approaches and dialogue, I hope to really dive deep into these topics and learn more about the future of work, and more about myself.
One of the really great things that we will be able throughout the semester is a lot of reflecting and journaling as a way for us to get our thoughts out there and reflect on how different things are going. The first entry we had to do asked us to reflect on a vulnerability that we have in our life. Even though I have already written it and submitted it, the idea of vulnerability and what I would call a vulnerability in my own life has been stuck in my mind ever since.
In my mind, the word vulnerable is synonymous with the word naked.
Nakedness leaves you entirely exposed to the outside world. We wear clothes not only because it’s just the decent thing to do, but it also offers protection in a variety of different ways. Practically, it could shield against natural weather elements and even from getting hurt. On an emotional level, it could be used as a way to cover up parts ourselves that we don’t want the world to see, allowing us to hide under layers of clothing. Regardless of how you look at it, you can argue that clothing serves as a shield and protects us in some way.
When you are vulnerable, that protective shield is gone, either by conscious choice or by virtue of the situation you find yourself in. This kind of exposure can be daunting, uncomfortable, and unsettling.
Despite how uncomfortable vulnerability can be, amidst the levels of discomfort it can be very freeing to just be yourself.
I have always hated the idea of looking weak.
Finding myself in a position where I look like I don’t know what I’m doing, admitting defeat or requesting help from others has always been a challenge for me. I was always pushed to solve problems on my own and think critically. I never wanted to be a burden to others. I wanted to be able to stick up for myself and triumph on my own, without the aid of others.
In this regard, I have always been a very solitary person, fiercely independent, and always cautious of how I present myself to others, especially those that play particularly important roles in my life.
Of course, the way that infrastructure ages over time and is vulnerable to cracks and breaking, so too did I find that keeping an outward facade of strength and power was difficult to keep up.
As much as we try, it becomes difficult – a chore, almost – to hold up a certain persona, especially one that may not align with how you feel on the inside. This was a problem that I ran into as I went through high school and the first part of my degree.
It took me a long time to realize that asking for help, showing some weakness, and being vulnerable, doesn’t make you a useless person. In fact, being able to show such emotion and being self-aware of it is a trait that people take years and years to develop. I’m still on that road to self-awareness.
What is so drastically different about this course is that we are called upon to own our vulnerabilities and be open and honest with the group.
While other classes that may be smaller in size can lend itself to having deeper conversations, I have found that in the time that I have been with this group, we have covered a lot more ground than other classes will typically cover.
I look forward to spending the semester with other like-minded people who are open to sharing their experiences with each other. Through this, it is my goal to grow in even deeper self-awareness and always remember that our vulnerabilities are not bad – they are part of who we are. And through them, we can grow to be even stronger individuals.
It's the first day of the first ever Civic Innovation Change Lab! We're thrilled to host this talented group of @simonfraseru students together with @radius_sfu @sfubeedie + @sfusemester. Bring on the urban innovation! . . . #citybuilding #civicinnovation #citystudio #SFUInnovates #dialogue #vancouver #urbaneconomics
A post shared by CityStudio Vancouver (@citystudiovan) on Jan 3, 2018 at 1:18pm PST
With that being said, one of my writing goals this year is to be even more vulnerable. For me, writing has always been a therapeutic exercise that allows me to tell certain stories and work through things that might be jumbled up in my head.
Whether it be exploring my faith, my research interests in public space, and personal essays, may this be a year where I really push down the boundaries, and pull you through the screen so that you can be right in the thick of the action.