I rush into the busy salon exactly on time, which I know is really considered late for most people.
"I have no idea who I am seeing today, it was kind of a last minute appointment. I'm Justine," I say to the cute brunette.
"Me, I am Cassie. Its nice to meet you," she says. "So you have a big speaking engagement?"
"I do! Thank you so much for fitting me in! I know it sounded ridiculous that I have a hair emergency, " I reply back.
She is younger than my usual stylist and I am only slightly nervous about trusting her the task of covering my unfortunate gray roots. The salon is full of activity as I sit down in her chair. My usual stylist Betsy is just a few stations down.
"Hi girl! She'll take great care of you, I promise!" Betsy says.
"Okay, so touch up the color and trim?" Cassie asks as she pulls her fingers through my long faded red hair.
"So how many people are you speaking for and when did you find out?"
"400 and yesterday," I reply still in shock.
"What are you speaking about?" she asks not knowing she has just launched the infertility advocate during National Infertility Awareness Week. After a quick explanation, she goes to mix my color looking only slightly shell shocked by the information I have just shared with her. When she returns she asks, "I honestly know nothing about it. I mean I have three kids, so it doesn't really effect me I don't think."
Infertility advocate activated!
"1 in 8 couples will struggle to conceive and 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a loss," I reply.
"What? It's really that many?" she states in disbelief. "That is so hard. I think several of my friends may have had losses."
When she leaves me for my color to process I continue working on what I had started for my National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) blog post. At this point, I know I've got her brain reeling with my information and my own story of infertility and loss. When she comes back to rinse my color she asks what I am working on. I briefly explain this year's blogging theme of #startasking for NIAW.
"But my ask is different. I want my community to tell their story, to speak their truth," I explain to her.
"Well it seems like that is the answer to all of it, right?" she replies.
"Yes, that is my point!"
"Well, how are insurance companies, family and friends supposed to support if they don't know who or what kind of support people need? I mean I knew absolutely nothing about it until you shared your story with me."
How is it that a mother of three who has never had to think twice about getting and staying pregnant seems to get it after only 90 minutes with me?
The average person going through infertility may not feel comfortable telling their hairdresser their story, especially the first time they meet them. This I completely understand. I am a bit of an anomaly here as a bestselling author, blogger and advocate. But she got my point exactly.
We cannot expect better insurance coverage if we do not share our story. We cannot expect our friends and family to say and do supportive things when we do not share our story. We cannot ask our society for acknowledgement if we do not share our story.
We cannot expect to come out of this journey okay, happy and healthy people, no matter what our happy ending is if we are not sharing our story.
I am only more convinced of this after my #MoreThan1in8 project. For the last three weeks I asked people to be brave and share their stories and pictures with me of how they thrive through and after infertility. I received hundreds of submissions and my videos including those submissions have been viewed thousands of times. Throughout this week, I witnessed several people come out publicly for the first time about their journey because of the project.
And, the result is not what our fears tell us is going to happen if we speak our truth. They were not met with harsh judgment and hate. They did not feel more fear and shame and hurt after sharing.
They received love, compassion, empathy and gratitude.
The result when you tell your truth will be compassion and support. Sure, we will always have the people who are unwilling to get it and who say something hurtful. But, the majority, if not all of it, will be love and support with the gratitude of connection.
Because when we share our struggle, not only do we create the space to be seen and heard ourselves, we also gift this space to the person we are sharing with.
And so I ask, who will you share your truth with today?
You an view the #More1in8 project here: