Aside from the fact it’s just really cool to say I guest lecture at a major, public university to hundreds of students, I really enjoy it.
Tomorrow, I am lecturing at Iowa State University to a whole bunch of students who are almost entirely nonjudgemental, open, and accepting. It’s always amazing to share my story with so many people. The vast majority are very supportive, although the snarky remarks and criticisms tend to be really funny.
It’s always interesting guest lecturing in my hometown for a number of reasons. In Ames, I have always felt young because I was a kid there. Now I walk around campus as a guest lecturer, who is older than most everyone on campus. It’s a weird feeling being older yet feeling like a kid. It’s less prevalent now, but I end up lecturing to people I know, who know me from before my life changed. The very first class I lectured for included several people I graduated high school with. I have lectured to students I taught in Sunday School even. It is shocking for them because they have always known a certain side of me; the side I severely censored. Now they are hearing my real story for the first time, and are surprised. They have this image of who I am as a person. My lecture completely knocks their idea of me on it’s side.
I lecture for several reasons. The first being, obviously, to spread awareness. So many people know without actually knowing anything at all. I like to give a face to my cause. We hear stories and read articles, but so rarely is there a flesh and blood person standing in front of you saying this is who I am, this is what I’ve been through. It is harder for people to judge and blame when there’s a person behind the story. They hear how complicated my life has been, what I’ve had to endure, what I have acheived in spite of everything. I never want people to think life and decisions are black and white; it’s almost always a grey scale.
The biggest thing I want people to take away is my story. That’s it. I want my story out there because it helps people. I can play a small part in tearing down stereotypes and barriers. I can stand in front of a few hundred people at a time as a seemingly educated, privileged, midwestern, white girl and then in a moment challenge people to question their own opinions and beliefs just by being me. I think that is the most powerful thing I can do.