C: Kate Bryan

“The bullying got so bad that I stopped talking in class.” KATE BRYAN on standing out instead of fitting in

There are two phrases on the flag of the City of Detroit that I believe embody my life and the lives of all women around the world. These phrases are in Latin and when I learned of the translation, these two phrases shook me, down to my core.⁣⁣

The first is, “There is always hope.” And the other is, “it will rise from the ashes”. Both of course are in reference to #Detroit, but I’ve come to see these phrases as the two themes of my life – and the lives of so many others. ⁣⁣

No matter what you’re going through or where you’ve been or what you’ve come through, there is always hope. And no matter what has happened to you in this life or what you’ve been through, you will rise from the ashes. And I truly believe that. ⁣⁣

I was raised in a great family and had a good upbringing, but I like everyone, had my own struggles and I’ve come through so much in my life. When I was 4 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency called “Job Syndrome”, like “Job” from the Old Testament, and at the time, there were only 25 documented cases. Now there are only 300 documented cases in the world. This immune deficiency means that my immune system is compromised and I’m supposed to catch pretty much any sickness I come in contact with and most people are hospitalized 8-10 times a year. [My youngest sister also has the same immune deficiency.]⁣⁣

For me, the medical issues were often the least of my worries. Although doctors had no idea what to do with me and were constantly pushing for trials, we learned how to take care of ourselves, we asked questions, and my sister and I ended up having very few catastrophic medical issues. Not to mention, we had incredible parents – including a really amazing mama who took great care of us. She’s the original 1 Girl Revolution!⁣⁣

The most difficult thing for me though, is what so many children struggle with, which was mean kids and bullying. I looked different because my skin was almost completely raw (most of the time) from eczema, no matter what we did, and I would often itch my hair out while I was sleeping. No matter how much my mom tried to make me look “pretty” by braiding the little hair that I had left and more, I still was different. I was allergic to alot of foods, so I always had to bring in my lunch and couldn’t sit with certain kids eating peanut butter, etc. No matter how much I tried to fit in, I never did. But, maybe I wasn’t meant to. And maybe none of us are meant to fit in.⁣⁣

The bullying got so bad that I stopped talking in class. I wouldn’t ask questions, I hated talking in front of people, and I would be so hard on myself if I missed a question on a test or homework. I tried so desperately not to draw attention to myself, but there was nothing I could do – I was different. ⁣⁣
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A turning point for me was when my mom enrolled me in Irish Dance classes. This was before the Riverdance phenomenon, so I begged and pleaded for my mom not to make me go. I didn’t want yet another thing that made me stand out… I just wanted to fit in. But the beautiful thing about it, was this was a turning point in my life. This was my magic feather (“Dumbo”) that gave me courage and made me see myself as unique, instead of different. I began talking in class again, I’d do Irish Dance performances in school talent shows and assemblies, and gave speeches and participated in theatre productions. My life had changed. ⁣⁣

There is a part of me that will always be that little girl who wants to “fit in”, but I try to remind myself everyday that none of us were born to simply “fit in”, we were truly born to stand out. We are as unique as our fingerprint — our gifts, talents, and our being is something that this world has never seen – and will never see again. ⁣⁣

I started 1 Girl Revolution just over a year ago because I realized that there were so many women out there like me, who didn’t feel seen or heard – at some point in their life. I believed that these women needed a platform to tell their stories and that many of us need to be reminded of our value, our uniqueness, and we need to be reminded of the power that we have to change the world through our lives and that there is an imprint, unique to each and everyone of us, that only *we* can leave on this world. ⁣⁣

I, of course, have my own experiences to point to, but as I began to look online for stories of other women that inspire me, I found so many stories of women who hadn’t been given a platform to authentically share their stories with the world. I recognized that if I could find a couple of inspiring women’s stories, that I might be able to build the platform – 1 Girl Revolution – that would allow these women to be seen and heard. One story led to another, and before I knew it, I had composed a long list of women who inspired me, all across the country – who were doing incredible things through their lives and that were changing the world every single day.⁣⁣

Over the past year, I have met and interviewed over 100 women, from all different backgrounds, who are doing all different kinds of things, but every single one is making a difference in their communities and throughout the world. 1 Girl Revolution only continues to grow and evolve, and the mantra for 1 Girl Revolution remains true… ⁣⁣

Every woman has a story. Every woman has a voice. And every woman has the power to change the world through her life. Every woman is a 1 Girl Revolution!⁣⁣

I didn’t know what this project would look like or what it would become, but I hoped that one day I would find a place for it in the world. And surely, 1 Girl Revolution has found its place in this world.⁣⁣

When I look at the world, I see so much division and darkness. I see a world that constantly politicizes women – treating us as political pawns, instead of as people. I see a world that defines women by something that happened to them instead of who they are, and women are taught to define themselves in this same way. I see a world that underestimates the power that women have, and in turn, we underestimate ourselves. And maybe we don’t even estimate ourselves. And I see a world that is more connected than ever, particularly with social media and smartphones, but we have never been more lonely, disconnected, and divided. We suffer and struggle in silence, by ourselves. We cut ourselves down and we cut down one another.⁣

But amidst the darkness, there are so many beacons of light and reasons for hope. And we are those beacons of hope and light. ⁣⁣

Like the flag of Detroit, “there is always hope” and we will “rise from the ashes”. Whoever we are and whatever we’ve been through and whatever we’re going through – we have the power to rise from the ashes, bring hope to this dark world, and we have the power to change the world through our lives.

Women are the strongest, most perseverant, powerful, courageous people in the world. We truly have the power to change the world – but we have to see it, believe it, and choose to be the change we want to see. Every woman has the power to change the world through her life. Every woman is a 1 Girl Revolution.⁣⁣

 


2nd generation Irish American, Kate Bryan is founder of 1 Girl Revolution, a podcast based out of her home town of Detroit. 

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