I have one sibling, a younger sister. I pretend she is older as she is definitely wiser (and because it’s funny). She has always been creative and fun with the most joyful laugh ever. (Check out her podcast So You Wanna Be A Farmer if you don’t believe me!) It took a while for her to recognize how incredibly intelligent she is, maybe even until she saw signs of it in her own children. As adults, she mentioned that she had been comparing herself (the quickest way to diminish our own gifts) to me for most of her life. It blew me away–in my eyes she is perfect. I am lucky, honestly–I learn in the way the public schools are programmed to teach. For my sister, evaluating her own self-worth based on a system created in response to the Industrial Revolution didn’t always work. Imagine that.
Married for more than two decades, she and her husband (also incredibly creative, fun, and extremely intelligent) have three children. Each of them is also uniquely clever and insanely bright as well. Go figure. They have their own interests and skill sets, and, when mixed up with our four, it’s hard to tell who belongs to who. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
My sister and I were pregnant at the same time (twice). Quinn arrived a month before our oldest with the determination of a bright, brilliant star and a clear gift for leadership. This was apparent by age three or four and they would notice a kid on the fringe. As opposed to many who act heroically to feed their own egos, I see Quinn’s innate ability to recognize a lonely, interesting diamond in the rough. A person right here, potentially available to spark joy in while mutually exchanging experiences and, hopefully, some laughs with.
Our first son was born four weeks to the day after Quinn. He was an observer then. Timid and sweet, he spent years with a look of awe when it came to his cousin. Quinn is old beyond their years, a gift and a curse, I believe. Today, they study in Baltimore (check out the Natural Dye Initiative https://www.mica.edu/annual-events-series/natural-dye-initiative/learning-about-natural-dye/). They have iconic knowledge of topics ranging from politics (still steadfastly in support of the marginalized) to the creation of functional art. I am in awe of their ability to turn the vividly colored yarn they produce into shapes that, to me, mimic biology in full morph mode. Brilliant.
I have the advantage of seeing Quinn’s (life) story unfold so far as it translates into the work they produce. I also have a privileged perspective as to their evolution of ideas, opinions, and experiences as they literally form. They openly, deeply, and unabashedly explore who they are here and now with passion and self-reflection. I wonder if it is lonely to be so incredibly gifted; regardless, they always, always persevere authentically, passion aflame.
Quinn is a DOER. While so many of us watch, worry, and complain, they continue to refuse to accept mediocrity or a hierarchy that perpetuates inequalities and hypocrisies in macro–and micro–societies. They and their peers demand more from each of us while simultaneously persevering, literally using firey passion to drive creativity and change. Quinn’s latest challenging, gender-fluid wearables give us credit for having the capability to do more than our rooted paradigms–like the antiquated public school system–suggest. Learning and leading are not mutually exclusive, however. My part is to learn from a vision that demands an expansion of my own; and to lead by example, not fear disguised as truth.