As a five-year-old, every day I would weave my body, stretch my head as high as I could so I could be seen. These daily actions all happen in our living room, in front of the television in the early ’70s. At the end of my favorite show Romper Room, the teacher would hold up a magic mirror to call out people’s names she was ‘seeing’ in Television land. As a 5-year-old, I weaved and bobbed so I could be seen by what I believed was a true magic mirror.
For some of you who may not know, Romper Room was a staple television show in North America for preschoolers. At the end of the television show, Miss Nancy would hold up the Magic Mirror (an empty open frame without the mirror), to recite her ending phase “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?” Then recited random first names of children while looking through the open mirror, into Television Land and everyone’s living rooms.
As an optimistic child, I felt it was on me to move a little more to be noticed so my name could be called. Day after day, my name was not called.
Speed ahead 50 years, and in a ZOOM call this week Jessica Potts closed the meeting by reached down to pull up her ‘magic mirror’ and called out names just like in Romper Room.
She called out my name. An immediate wave of being 5 years old came over me. I was seen. With the correct pronunciation said ‘I see Kanchan’. I intuitively exhaled. In a fraction of a minute, without any effort of my own, with no preparation, Jessica gave me the gift of being witnessed.
As a woman of color, there is a deep-seated need for belonging in the spaces I work in when outwardly (name and skin color) there aren’t as many like me. Because of my experience with shows like Romper Room, as a child, I learned that I may not belong. This adds to the shape of my adult life in that I seek out heart-centered places of belonging.
I am not alone. I coach BIPOC leaders and this is a common thread. Belonging comes from a place of being seen and being heard. For me when I hold leadership roles, my aim is to create places for people to feel safe. Safe to speak, safe to say silent, safe to stay, or safe to walk out. I do this because in my experience being safely seen and heard is connected to a deep-felt reality of belonging.
With my value of creating greater unity in my world, I know it starts with one truth I hold which is all every person on the planet wants is to be heard and seen. Thank you, Jessica, for calling out my name through your Magic Mirror and making my childhood wish come true. I feel seen. I feel I belong.