When I was offered the opportunity to write for this NCBI blog, I agreed. And then I started thinking about what it means to write. The blog captures a moment. Will what I write stand the test of time? Will I read it later and regret my decision? What makes me afraid of committing my thoughts to paper?

I realized that these fears emerge from the human condition. I used to think that I had no fear of commitment until I thought about this project, and about how reluctant I feel committing to a deadline of my own choosing. I let myself ask with curiosity, “What’s that?”

Since the NCBI core values include sharing vulnerability, I reasoned that I’d summon my courage and say my truth. Ulp.

I have a minimal presence on social media. I have no LinkedIn profile… yet. I have made these decisions intentionally. I grew up in a dysfunctional family that left some emotional scars. If they see me, I’ll stop being invisible, and more abuse may follow. Even now I am running. If I don’t have a presence online, he can’t find me. If I don’t speak specifically, he can’t sue me.

And if I don’t speak my truth, how can I call myself a leader? If I pretend, how do I heal? If I stay stuck, how can I reach out to others who may be struggling?

I remember the emotional desert of those hopeless years. I remember my own stoicism and resolve. These experiences catalyzed my compassion – although I’m still better at it for others than for myself.

“Being an ally to another group,” I read in Leading Diverse Communities, “requires us to heal the negative messages we have internalized about our own group.”

What am I going to write? My invisible truth.

—Sandra Katz