WHAT A STRAWBERRY CAN TEACH US ABOUT VULNERABILITY
Strawberries are the quintessential icon of spring. And while wondering what to write about in this post, I found myself in a deep meditation on strawberries. They’re beautiful and, curiously, one of very few fruits that bare their seeds on the outside. It’s as if they’re unabashedly proud of who they are, scars and all. Strawberries have nothing to hide and they display the most fragile part of their body for all to see. They’re both proud and vulnerable. And that to me is a pretty remarkable quality.
It’s a quality that I admire in others, but have a hard time actualizing in my own life. Creating The Fennel Frond, leaping head first into starting and growing my own business, and living in the 21st century where you need to promote yourself to excel (especially as a woman), I find that this “take me as I am” quality does not come naturally to me. I’m a harsh critic of my work and art, which often leads to a vicious cycle of self doubt, lack of confidence, and an unwillingness to motivate and move forward. What’s more complicated is that I battle anxiety and periodic depression- issues which are taboo enough in their own right, and even more so in the entrepreneur space.
Depression and its relationship to leadership is not a part of our everyday discourse, yet there are many leaders that struggle with it. And I believe that these leaders should be brought out of the dark. Social shame hides the fact that individuals who experience emotional pain also experience a special kind of growth that can be an asset in leadership. These leaders are valuable, and can offer a unique skill set to the world. Like strength & grit, because trudging through a mental health crisis and persisting in life results in profound fortitude and emotional awareness. They can also offer empathy, because their experience gives them the ability to wholeheartedly relate to others who face similar struggles in the workplace and beyond. After all, they know and understand what it feels like to be sick, but not show any physical symptoms, and have achieved and progressed with immense courage and confidence despite their secret pain.
I believe that people who have battled emotional challenges are crucial to business and relationships, and so it’s important for these leaders to share and celebrate their story. It’s a story that has the potential to inspire someone else to keep marching forward even in the throes of adversity with mental health. And the more we remove the stigma, the more supported, empowered, and connected victims of depression and anxiety will feel. Leaders need to know that through hardship, we can cultivate strength and coping mechanisms that may bring others comfort. Above all else though, I think it’s important to recognize that these people (like me!) exist, and are leading forward despite sickness. It’s important to say that they are not alone and that their experience can help others. Their pain can be a source of strength and sharing their story could be the key to someone else's success.
And so I’d like to take a cue from the lowly strawberry, and set an intention to channel my vulnerability and use it as a force to be reckoned with; to bare my seeds on the outside, and use my emotional battle scars to lead fearlessly and connect with an open heart.
- 1 pint of strawberries, quartered
- 4 sprigs of mint, chopped
- 1 cup of macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped
- 2 cups of arugula, chopped roughly
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of lime juice
- 1/4 cup of honey
- salt and pepper