As a student, I’ve gotten a lot of advice from a lot of people. Some are general life lessons, frequently given by family members at holiday gatherings, while career-specific ones tend to show up at Sauder’s various guest speaker events. Others, well-meaning but somewhat questionable, come from the oddest places – from strangers at bus stops to the owner of that pizza place on Granville Street. A friend asked me the other day what the single best piece of advice I’ve received was; after some thought, I came to the surprising conclusion that the one thing that stands out most in my mind came from a rather unusual source.
One of my hobbies is ballroom dancing. As a dance enthusiast, I try to go to socials whenever I can. During one such event two years ago, I had the opportunity to chat with a dancer from out of town. I’d never seen her dance before, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love. When she performed, I couldn’t tear my eyes away. After gawking at her flawless footwork, I had to ask her secret: “How did you learn to dance so well?” I was expecting something along the lines of practice makes perfect or it’s all about making a connection – things I’d heard multiple times before from my dance instructor. Instead, she told me, “The key is to let yourself be a little vulnerable.” It wasn’t until later that I realized the value of her advice – and the best part? It applies to much more than just dance.
For me, this advice translates to two things:
Being upfront about what I want.
Whether it’s requesting informational interviews or doing group assignments for class, I’ve learned the importance of being honest about what I’m looking for. As our career advisor often says, “Remain open, humble and transparent in your interactions and you will see progress!” Sometimes, this might mean admitting that I have no idea what I want about some things – and I’m learning that’s okay too.
Being okay with negative emotions.
Most easily described by this quote from Brené Brown’s TED Talk: “We know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things that you do really awesome, and one thing — an “opportunity for growth”? And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth?” Sometimes, it’s difficult to talk about negative feelings, because inevitably, it comes with insecurities – but only by being open about it can you ask for help and improve. MM has been incredibly helpful in all aspects of this, from the graduate office, to the career centre, to my classmates, and I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received.
Being vulnerable comes down to letting myself be seen, and following this one piece of advice has allowed me to be more empathetic, be a better communicator, and develop stronger friendships. Give it a try – maybe you’ll benefit from it too. (:
What’s the best advice you’ve received? Feel free to share in the comments!
Until next time,