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Laura Guy, Esq. (Essay Winner)

The WE Conference™ is pleased to recognize

a winning submission in The WE Conference™ Essay Contest

by Laura Guy, Esq. of San Francisco, California.

Thank you for the opportunity to consider what being empowered means to me. If you had asked me this question a year ago, my response would have mentioned values such as independence, education, financial freedom and physical well-being. I am a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Panama to create a better life for themselves, me and my sister. Being independent, providing for ourselves, and bootstrapping our way from lower to middle class through hard work and rigorous education allowed my family to achieve a level of financial freedom that empowered us to live a safe, happy childhood where my sister and I felt protected and provided for. Add physical well-being to the list and I make up that one has all of the components to lead a beautiful, powerful life.

While I still think these values are important in feeling empowered, my recent year-long exploration of awakening to unconditional love offers a new definition. Today, I am more apt to choose values such as self-expression, self-acceptance and voluntary vulnerability. In learning to accept people the way they are and the way they aren’t and how to manage and accept my emotions on a daily basis, I know that true empowerment lies in being with what is.

Empowerment means I give myself space to be upset even if my bigger self feels the reason for my upset is petty. It means giving up being right, letting go of pretending and engaging in honest conversations with others about our commitments, whether they intersect or overlap or not. It means bravely announcing, “I failed! And I am still a leader.” And repeating it again and again. It means giving up independence for the adventure of partnership and playing the grander game of community.

What being empowered means to me: trading independence for vulnerability; trading financial freedom for a willingness to receive; trading knowing and being right for the unknown and negotiation. Overall, sounds like a great new way of being to me.