I was feeling nostalgic recently, so I began scrolling through my old photos and found this photo:
I remember the exact day this was taken; I remember how I felt – I got the new pair of shoes I was longing for… it was a black embossed patent leather Mary Jane, with 4-inch heels… it was awesome! I felt like the ish; like I was unstoppable, like the world was at my feet and I could do anything I wanted. I had everything figured out; I was so sure of myself. It would be an understatement to say that I was feeling myself.
After reliving that moment, I realized that I have not felt like that in a very long time. I do not have the same courage and fearlessness I once did. People’s criticism and life experiences knocked the winds out of my sails. I question and second guess myself so much more than I did before. I stopped believing that I could accomplish anything I dreamed of. Life knocked me in a box… and I stayed there.
After having that realization, I did a little soul searching because I don’t want to stay in a box and live an unfulfilled, dispassionate life. But, what can I learn from this moment? How can I regain my courage and boldness? The best place to start is in the mind. To make any meaningful change, I will have to change my mindset while considering the following:
“Be yourself” is advice that is often thrown around. It is simple but very difficult to do. Being yourself is harder to do when the person you are is unpalatable, unpopular, and unconventional. People are told to be themselves, however, individuality and uniqueness are not something that is always celebrated, instead, following the crowd and cookie-cutters are all the rage.
I have struggled to reconcile the person I am with the person I should be. I am a strong person, however, if I am going to be honest, I have been affected by the people who say that I am too me or that I should be a little more like this or a little less that.
At twenty-five, I cared little about what people thought of me. I was me. If you didn’t like it, so be it. However, as I got older, the need to fit in and be a part of a clique got stronger. I am a little quirky and I am not for everyone, however; I found that I was trying to change myself to fit in. This became clearer as I moved up the professional ladder. It is no fun being that one person in a meeting who seem to always have a different point of view.
For a long time, it bothered me that I was in my thirties and having identity issues, however, after the past year, after COVID and giving birth, I’ve discovered a whole new me. I am pissed that it took me this long, nevertheless; I am here. I have made peace with the fact that I am not for everyone, that it is ok to be disliked, it is ok to have an opposing viewpoint; it is ok to march to the beat of your own drum.
Life is hella short and you do yourself a disservice if you try to change to please the masses. I have decided to be gentle with myself, nurture my uniqueness, and spend more time listening to my thoughts and opinions.
For as long as I can remember, I was extremely focused and tunnel-visioned. I knew the life I wanted. I had an end in mind, and that’s all I focused on. Friendships became less of a priority. Fast forward ten years, I wished I had taken the time out to build strong friendships because as you get older, building strong friendships becomes more difficult. You become extremely cautious and guarded, as such, you avoid getting too close to people as some only have ulterior motives. To make matters worse, many people have adopted Drake’s mantra “no new friends!”.
I have accepted the fact that I cannot change the past. Instead, I have decided to be open to meeting new people while being selective with the type of persons I let into my inner circle.
Growing up, I was told that to be and perceived as being successful, there are specific things you need to do in a specific order i.e., go to school and get a degree, get a certain type of job, meet a nice man, get married, have babies, the end!
I bought and drank this Kool-Aid! I wanted to be and perceived as being successful, so I followed the script, no deviations! I have done everything on the script, now I am at the end thinking…. NOW, WHAT??!!
I wish someone told me that life is not a sprint, but a marathon, that there is not one road that leads to success. I wish I was more open-minded to new opportunities and different ways of attaining success. I wish I knew that success means different things to different people.
I have learned that being happy is more important than being successful and that success does not equate to happiness. As such, I have decided to no longer subscribe to the old tenets of success. Instead, I will focus on allowing things to happen naturally, and being more open to new possibilities and opportunities, while always remembering that success can be attained by curating a life of happiness that aligns passion with a career.
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Most women I know are their worst critics. They are a hundred times harder on themselves than anyone as they believe that they have to be great at being so many things to so many people, all at once, i.e. wife, mother, sister, employee/boss, friend, etc….I, like so many others, suffer from this affliction.
For a very long time, I believed that if I was bad at being a boss, wife, or daughter then that meant that I failed, and was found wanting. I was afraid of and paralyzed by fear. However, I have learned that failure is a natural part of life, failure is necessary for growth. Failing at something does not mean that you are a failure, instead, you simply need to revisit your approach and wheel an’ come again!
I want to constantly remind myself that it is ok to fail; it is ok to have moments of weakness; it is ok to evaluate and question your approach and motivation, as doing so will ensure continuous growth and maturity.
Believe in Yourself
I was always a confident person, some may argue a little too much, but what the heck… however I find that I am not as confident as I once was, I don’t have that go-getter beast spirit I used to. Now, I am a little more mellow and go with the flow type of person. By being so, I realize that I have failed myself. A lot of what I wanted to accomplish when I was twenty-five is still not done. I still have so much to do…. I got comfortable; I stopped challenging myself. I accepted the narrative that my dreams were too big, that where I am is great, so I should stop there and be grateful.
While I am grateful for all I have accomplished, there is still so much to do and learn. I have committed to challenging myself, to only compete with myself, to take advice, but to move with alacrity to fulfil all my dreams and to do so with gusto and bravado.
I want to be the best version of myself. I never want to be stagnant. I want to constantly challenge and push myself to do and be all that I dream of. I have a little girl looking up to me and I want to show her that there’s no script to follow, she can be anything she wants. I want her to know that she is fierce and wonderfully made, that once she works hard, the sky is the limit.
Anyone out there who has found themselves at the end of their script or at a crossroad, know that the next step is entirely up to you. You are the author of your own life, you have the power to curate the life you dream of and deserve.
Hope you enjoyed 🙂