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03/07/2020 The Communication Science magazine

What I have learned in 2019: it is okay to open up

As 2019 draws to an end, Margarete Schweinitz takes a look at the valuable lessons she learned this year.


What have you learned during the past twelve months? I know what I have learned: I should open up more often, and so should you. Not only to the people you care about but also to yourself. It is about honesty and showing who you really are and what you really want.

2019 was a year that taught me a lot. It was a very intense start, facing the challenge of managing job, university, friends and free time. A nice hustle as everything I did was fun in the beginning. Starting a new job was very exciting. Doing something I have never done before: being a retail assistant and helping customers find the right product. So many nice conversations, so many nice people and I was happy when they found what they were looking for. Then one day, someone shoplifted while I was working. It was not my fault, but it was awful. Another day, I had so many deadlines for university in my head that I could not really focus. I became more tired every day, less enthusiastic and just exhausted. I began to doubt what I was doing.

It is okay to open up and it is okay to be vulnerable.

Thank you, Michelle Obama!

In April, I had the opportunity to attend Michelle Obama’s book tour promoting her book ‘Becoming’. What I took from this event was that everyone has a story to tell and that every story is worth telling. It is okay to open up and it is okay to be vulnerable. We simply need to start to tell everyone who we are and who we want to become. And, it is okay to be honest, because only then we can be our true selves and not hide behind a façade.

Another point Michelle Obama mentioned was that we need to explore and if someone tells us that we cannot do something, we just proof them the opposite. We explore and just show the world what we are capable of.

Re-evaluate

Having these thoughts in mind, I began to re-evaluate everything I did and what I put effort into. So, I realized that having a job that was just too much and was not fun, would not make me happy. It was not what I wanted to do. I tried and I explored. So, I learned my lesson and moved on. It was my first time quitting a job. Honestly, I was super scared but when you are open about why you want to quit, people begin to understand and maybe it is what you tell them that makes them change things. Everyone has the power to change something and it all starts with speaking up and being honest.

Explore

A little later this year, I got an opportunity to work at a different job, even having the possibility to work during the summer break. I always enjoyed working in this particular job, so I was very happy to start working there. It seemed right to do what I wanted to do, even if it meant not traveling. Then summer came and I worked very hard. I had so many good days and was happy with what I did. But then from one day to the other, everything changed and I was in the middle of something I did not want to be dragged into. I am human, I am empathic and I am happy to help, but if it exceeds my abilities, I should not do it. I did it anyway and helped as much as I could. I was not happy anymore. And then we all need someone to remind us that we need to take a step back and look at the things from a different perspective. I quit and distanced myself, but I was not ready to let go. Until now.

Open up and make yourself vulnerable

During all this time and also a bit later that year, I met new people. People I started to care about, people who I became friends with and people who I value. Usually, when I meet new people, I do not tell a lot about myself. It is scary to tell someone you do not know yet who you are and what you care about. I needed to get to know them first, I needed to spend time with them. And then eventually, I could make myself vulnerable. It was and is okay to open up as these people, hopefully care about me, too. I realized that I did not have to be alone with my thoughts and that it feels good to share them. And then, if you are ready to open up, something really exciting can come out of it.

Chase what you really want

A couple of weeks back, I had a plan and I thought I knew what I wanted to do in my next semester. Internship first and later, in my third year, my bachelor thesis. Now, I am sure that this plan was definitely not the right one. There were so many incidents that told me no, so many situations that did not feel right and, so I began to doubt everything until recently. Now, I have a plan that feels right and I am going to prove to everyone that I am able and capable to succeed in whatever is coming next.

Finally, here I am writing, opening up to the world what happened to me in 2019. I am making myself vulnerable to strangers, something I could not have done before.

Though, this article is not about me, it is so much more. It is showing all of you that it is okay to fail, it is okay to say No, and it is definitely okay to open up and get what you want and what you deserve.

Cover: Margarete Schweinitz

 

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