Two weeks before my college graduation I found myself in a cold, serious conference room being accused of plagiarism and threatened with expulsion.
Let me explain…
We had a final group project where the goal was to create a PR campaign that would re-brand a local mental health facility–a wonderful mission to de-stigmatize the need for support.
It was a semester-long project with multiple participants–some more involved than others (as most group endeavors go.) Each of us took ownership of a section of the project, but we would be graded on the totality of efforts and the uniqueness of our approach.
As you might imagine I would be–I was the Mother Hen of the project, even hosting group meetups at my apartment…snacks included!
We finished the project and handed it in feeling pretty darn proud of ourselves. Days later, we were all requested to meet with both our professor and the Dean of our department for a meeting that labeled us as plagiarists because we misunderstood the directions for one teeny tiny section of our entire presentation.
We were under the impression that we had to repeat back the core challenges the facility had given us and then work through them. Our professor, however, accused us of cheating because we had repurposed one of the handouts given to us by the “client”.
Such a minor misunderstanding led to a horror show of events–all while my biggest concern for these final days of college should have been heels or flats for the graduation outfit. All jokes aside–I was always a kid who feared getting in trouble, so this unraveled me.
The Dean asked us to each write a 15 page paper on why we plagiarized–due by the end of the week.
EXCUSE ME?! Because of your poor directions and about 2 pages of material out of over 100, you want me to do what?
I drove home and sat down at my computer, fingers blazing across the keyboard, typing 20 pages (extra credit?) about how I was NOT a plagiarist and refused to take ownership of such a title. I also notated ways in which the professor could have been more clear about that particular section.
Was it risky? Hell yeah. But I was not going to be labeled and shamed for a misunderstanding.
I heard nothing from the Professor about my essay, but I did get notified I would be graduating and my final class grade was an A+–so I think it landed.
I had to use my voice that day–and it was a lesson I’m reminded of often. I have to use it time and time again.
This week on Bound + Determined, I’m chatting with a friend of the podcast, Vasavi Kumar!
As she prepares for the launch of her first book, Say It Out Loud, Vasavi explains how she honed her voice over years of feeling silenced. She also says that we’re constantly looking for ways to tell ourselves we can’t do something—we count ourselves out before we begin. The terrible reality of that? The stories just live inside us and never emerge.
Vasavi has made a beautiful art of finding herself over and over again—through a bipolar disorder diagnosis and drug addiction to building a business, harnessing her dreams—and now…launching this book.
She is proof that through the many iterations of ourselves—you can still have an incredible impact on others.
Every part of you has its own voice and when you give each of those parts the space to SAY IT OUT LOUD, you deepen your understanding and awareness of the parts of yourself you’ve been disconnected from.
And here’s a message from me to you in this episode…the best ideas for your book will come when you’re out living your life. You can’t stop living and enjoying yourself when you’re writing your book. BUT, the ideas don’t always flow, and when they don’t that’s when you just write the dirty draft and make it better later. Do it over and over again.
As Vasavi and I discuss in this episode—just like us, writing evolves too. And as my mom said (and she was right!) Practice Makes Perfect—but I’ll put my own spin and say “Practice Makes Better”—because perfection is an impossible standard I don’t care to flirt with.
I hope you’ll tune into this episode and see where YOU can be Saying it Out Loud!
P.S. Stay tuned to this newsletter because if you’re an aspiring author–there’s something NEW and exciting in the works for you!
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