By Ruth Hinkle, Spirit & Place Festival Intern
When I met Richard Rodriguez at a Spirit & Place Festival event in 2008, he told me to tell my story and send it to him. I never did. But I’m ready now to tell you the story of how I transformed from a withdrawn girl into a confident woman.
Some days, when I look in the mirror I don’t recognize the person staring back at me.
“I realized that people actually like you more when you flaunt your humanity.”
What prompted this transformation? Interning with the Spirit & Place Festival and SAVI Information for Communities for the past two years certainly pushed me to develop interpersonal skills and rekindled my passion for communications. Just leaving high school and starting my education at IUPUI had a profound impact on my understanding of myself. But it started even before that.
As a result of an unfortunate experience with a friend in middle school, I was a suspicious teenager. I refused to trust anyone around me. It was a way to protect myself from others, to avoid confrontation. I wore it much like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, shielding myself from notice. Ultimately, though, it was a self-destructive behavior. I spent much of my life in this place of fear, unintentionally cutting myself off from the world.
“I reached out to the world around me and it responded. In reaching out, I took a risk.”
In high school, a switch flipped somewhere in my understanding of the world and I realized that people actually like you more when you flaunt your humanity. We love knowing that others are as flawed as we are. I had to break down the wall of the fortress I’d built to protect myself from my peers. Once conscious of this seemingly obvious tidbit of wisdom, I reached out to the world around me and it responded. In reaching out, I took a risk. I stopped being secretive and trusted people with the little things (I like fantasy novels, I don’t like spiders, etc.). From there, I learned to be open about more complicated aspects of myself.
“Risk has played an essential role in shaping the person I am today.”
As the Spirit & Place explores the theme of RISK for its 18th annual festival during November 1-10, I’m reminded that risk has played an essential role in shaping the person I am today. And you know what? I love this Ruth. She’s quirky, confident, and has great hair!
She has a strong network of friends and works day to day in communications, a field that requires a friendly outlook. She’s a far cry from the girl who wished desperately for an invisibility cloak of her own. She may surprise me, but I’m starting to get comfortable living in her skin.
Ruth Hinkle is an IUPUI student who interns for @spiritandplace & @SAVIonline. She reads marketing blogs and fantasy novels in her free time. She celebrates Nerdfighteria and listens to 80s music at work. Follow @ruth_hinkle on Twitter!