The sisterhood in the World Pulse community has been an unexpected blessing. I never thought I would be part of this global community when I began my journey here a year ago. Writing my journey on this online space helped me find a direction in life. I felt braver every time I post a personal story. Here, my pain and fears as a woman are validated. The culture of support and encouragement here allow me to see myself from a new lens: my experiences matter; I am valued; I am enough.
The stories of women here inspire me to aspire for a life with a societal impact; a life that puts a dent to the status quo, and a life that leaves a legacy to follow. I began to dream: if these sisters are healing this wounded world, so can I.
Being in World Pulse made me optimistic of the future. I am learning from the journey of women leaders here. My heart is burning with excitement every time I read their updates. When self-doubt discourages me, I draw strength from the stories of persistence, diligence, and resilience shared here.
I could say that I am now a different woman today compared to the woman I was before joining World Pulse. Here I discovered the liberating power of telling our stories.
Today, I want to honor the woman who introduced World Pulse to me. I was an ordinary student in highschool and a self-confessed fan of a schoolmate's leadership. She was a popular debater and student-leader back then.
We were formally introduced in college. It surprised me how humble she was (and still is) because when she speaks, everyone listens. Both her voice and message are powerful. She is an excellent communicator.
Much of our conversations happen online. I have shared depths of my soul to her more than the people I usually talked to. In those online exchange, she modeled empathy to me. There was no cinch of judgment; it was more of listening and seeking to understand. It was affirming the feelings felt on an experience were valid. It was more on honoring a journey.
It reminds me of a cliché , " You don't know what you’re missing until it arrives". I realized I hungered for empathy all my life. I observe that, generally, our country has a culture of invalidation. Empathy is a foreign concept to most of us, if not all.
I was once a call center agent. During a series of training as a technical support, the trainer incorporated empathy on addressing customers' concerns. We had to recite our empathetic statements one by one, and we should sound that we truly understand how the customers feel when a technical problem disrupt their schedule. He said empathy is not practiced in the Philippines, and the foreign company felt it needs to teach Filipinos to emphathize to truly serve its customers. By experience, irate customers calmed down after we sincerely emphathized with them.
Empathy by definition is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner" (Merriam Dictionary).
Empathy is saying, "I hear you. I understand where you are coming from. I would feel bad/mad/sad/lost/confused/hurt, too."
Deewai, or Dyan, has given me a lot of gifts throughout the years; material gifts that I have no capacity to reciprocate as of now. But the most priceless among them all was her gift of empathy. It is powerful and life-changing. It facilitates healing to a traumatic soul.
It was Dyan who encouraged me to join World Pulse. I never thought I would benefit anything from this online space. It was intimidating for me at the beginning. She has global connections outside World Pulse, and had received international and local recognitions. She was also a WP Featured Storyteller awardee. I thought one should be a writer of high calibre like her. I told her I was not as good in writing. She said there was no need to compare.
Out of my respect for her, I decided to join. I told her my first post would be about my experience with Typhoon Kai-tak, but I was unsure how to write the piece. She gave me a keyword: empathy.
So I wrote my story while taking into account the women living in disaster-prone areas. That piece won me a Featured Storyteller award. It built-up my confidence in writing and in myself. I've become a braver woman since then.
Dear Dee, you have no idea what an impact you've brought into my life. I treasure you more than you ever know. Thank you for sharing opportunities with me, for encouraging me to join World Pulse. For years, I got stuck inside a cocoon. When it was time to leave, I didn't know how to fly. This nurturing space helped me fix my broken wings and use them to fly. I've found genuine, supportive, emphathetic women here. Thanks to you. Thank you for the friendship, love, and generosity. Thank you for the gift of empathy.
I know in my heart that you were born to do great things, far beyond what we can imagine today. I hope to see you become one of our country's government leaders because we need women decision-makers like you.
Happy birthday, Dee!