A few weeks ago, I was speaking on a panel at the Sheer Impact Conference. I was surrounded by smart and insightful changemakers ranging from politicians to social entrepreneurs. It was moderated by Debbie Scheer, who masterfully facilitated a conversation where we were able to share our true selves and the ups and downs of our journeys.

One of the things she asked us to share about was an ‘oh shit’ moment that occurred over the years. I was immediately transported back to Maine sitting across the table from Kate, one of our Threads Fair Trade Partners. I was telling her about how we needed to step up, live our authentic and radiant truth, and lead the women in our community to do the same. In that moment, I knew that I was completely lying. I was not living my authentic truth. I was married to a man and part of a family unit that I knew couldn’t support me to live my purpose. I was, in fact, in love with a woman, who I knew was meant to be my partner. I shared these details with the audience of 200 or so women entrepreneurs.

As we wrapped up the panel, I headed to the back of the conference room and was stopped by one of the attendees. “Hey, I’m a sister,” she said excitedly.

“What kind of sister?” I asked, not knowing if she was a fellow entrepreneur, social impact advocate, etc.

“I have a wife,” she said proudly. “And thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. I feel like when leaders like you share openly about your lifestyle, it gives us permission to be proud of our way of living.”

We went on to have a 15-minute conversation about shared experiences and passions and, of course, exchanged numbers so we could hang out in the future. Leaving that conversation, I was reminded how important it is to share my story. Courage and authenticity are addictive. My hope is that women continue to share their truest, fullest selves because we never know who is watching and yearning for the opportunity to do the same.