Authenticity and vulnerability are strengths.

Last week was the Playing For Other’s (PFO) event Connecting Charlotte. This was a coming out party of sorts for the PFO Slam Poetry Committee. I am one of the Co-Advisors on the Slam committee. I’ve been working with a group of thirteen teens since this summer. All of the teens were to write a slam poetry piece that would be performed in homage to a local non-profit organization. All poems were original written pieces that were memorized and practiced over and over again for their big performance. Those are the boring logistics.

Those logistics cannot begin to describe my experience. I went into this process nervous and unsure. I was sure of my skill of a slam poet, but not sure of how that would translate when teaching the teens. I was sure of the impact that poetry had left on my life, but I did not know if it would impact the teen’s life in the same way. I went into this process hopeful, but very unsure.

As we dug into the process of crafting the pieces, I was immediately surprised. Once the teens were assigned their non-profits, they began they worked extremely hard to write poems that would honor the organizations in a way that was honest and authentic to who they were and how they felt a connection to the organization. After the pieces were written, we practiced memorization and performing. The teens were as ready as they could be on the night of the event. However, what happened when it was their turn to perform changed me.

One after the other, they went on the stage and performed their pieces. Each performance…every piece was amazing. They stood on the sidelines and cheered each other on. Every teen cheered every other teen from their teen on. This was such a huge deal to me because I remember what it was like to be a teenager and feel alone, like none of my peers were rooting for me. Actually, I know how it feels to be an adult and feel that way at times. We all need for our peers to stand along side of us and support us as we stand on the stage of life. I watched these teens transition from a space of nervousness and uncertainty to a space of authenticity and vulnerability. Therein is where genius exists. Tapping into vulnerability and authenticity is the space where an artist creates his or her greatest work.