Last week I hosted my first NOAF OutLoud Abortion Story Sharing party. During the final hours leading to the event I was in complete panic. Even after having personally messaged every person I’d invited with a reminder about the event and still upon receiving text confirmation from a number of friends, I had convinced myself that no one would show up and that the event would be a dud. Then, when people actually did show up, my doubts quickly transformed into new fears. My mind flooded with question; “What if I represent NOAF poorly?” and “what if people respond negatively to the stories?” and “do I even know enough about this to lead this conversation?” and even worse “what if I fail?”
By the time we kicked off the event, my nerves had subsided. People were listening, engaging and interested in learning more. After all was done I felt relief because of how well it went. Not to say the event did not have it’s flaws. It was pointed out by one of our peers that even though we’d tried to address all the identities that intersect along the topic of abortion, our conversations were washed with a glaze of hetero-normalcy. At first I felt embarrassed and ashamed, honestly, for failing to see beyond my own lens. I reviewed our material and recalibrated my approach to talking about abortions paying closer attention to the way I was using gender pronouns. In calling attention to the degree of heteronormativity that characterized our initial conversation, we were able to build and create more intersectional content.
These kinds of mistakes make us more successful ultimately. At a different time in my life I may have dwelled on that comment for days, maybe even weeks, in an unproductive way. However, working with NOAF I have learned the skill of finding the silver lining in all my mistakes. Had no one come to the party I would’ve had to go back to the drawing board, come up with new strategies, and grow. Now, with a more tangible understanding that failures are a necessary part of success, I have a new-found confidence that has already driven me to take on new project. I plan to continue working with NOAF in the future, specifically with their Intake cold line which provides financial assistance to women seeking to get an abortion in Louisiana.