How Little Me & Grown-Up Me Feel About Winning Awards

Inclusion1I’ll admit, I was pretty excited to open up the Colorado Springs Independent this past Wednesday. Slipped in between its journalistic pages was an insert entitled Inaugural Independent Inclusion Awards: Celebrating LGBT Leadership and Achievement of Individuals and Companies in Southern Colorado.

I found out about two weeks ago that I was selected for this award, along with nine other fabulous persons and companies…

*Dissolve into flashback sequence*

When I was a youngster I wanted to win awards and contests. Like, super badly. Didn’t matter for what – soccer, band, spelling bee, class vice-president, radio station contests, bowling trophies… I struggled so much with feeling invisible that I just wanted to be seen. Winning an award or contest made me feel special, even if just for a few moments.

I think back on this as I remember what my reaction was to finding out I won an Inclusion Award. A mixture of surprise, bashfulness, and peace.

As I sat down to write this I wondered why forty-year-old Dara feels differently about receiving accolades than fourteen-year-old Dara?

Luckily there was no one running against me.

Luckily there was no one running against me.

Ironically, there’s a reason I don’t feel invisible anymore. And that reason has so much to do with why I do what I do that ended up getting me this award.

Hm, that made total sense in my head.

What I mean is, I stopped feeling invisible once I began to see myself for who I really was. Not only my sexual orientation, although that was one of the first steps that got things going.

To steal from the name of the award I’m getting, I became inclusive within my own self. Once I began to open up to myself I realized I did indeed have likes, dislikes, interests, opinions, ideas, strengths, weaknesses…I got to know all of the various sides of me—understanding them, and eventually embracing them (well, it’s still a work in progress, but such is life :)).

This “discovering of one’s true depth” has become the cornerstone of my counseling approach, as well as my approach to life. And I couldn’t have done that without having gone through it first myself.

Which brings us to today.

One thing I discovered about my own “true depth” is that I have a mission to make this world a better place for those who are transgender. And yes, there is a lot that I do in my pursuit of that, which is why I am one of the recipients of this award.

But in all honesty, it’s not hard for me to do this. At all. I really do mean it when I say this is my mission—in other words my “calling.” I am called to do this.

That’s why it felt peaceful when I found out about winning this award, instead of it temporarily satisfying a need to be seen as special.

It reminded me that I am indeed on the right track. That I am in alignment with a life purpose.

It also meant I got to go to a kick-ass party.

Me and Kirsten Akens, writer of the award winner profiles and long-time friend.

Me and Kirsten Akens, writer of the award winner profiles and long-time friend.


Shut the front door, these desserts were insane.

Read the “Introduction to the Indy Inclusion Awards” article, as well as the “Recipients of the Inaugural Independent Inclusion Awards 2014” article from the Colorado Springs Independent here.


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