I didn’t always like myself growing up. I hated the way I looked, I was extremely sensitive — which made me an easy target to get picked on and teased quite often — and despite all my accomplishments I did have at the time, I just didn’t feel like I really fit in.
You see for me, I did a really good job of faking it until I made it. Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am very outgoing. And socially I can fit into any environment like a chameleon. But on the inside, I was a broken soul praying someone would see my broken pieces and put me back together again.
For every compliment given to me, I had the hardest time genuinely accepting. This was simply for the fact I didn’t feel worthy enough to receive it in the first place. It was as though I felt I needed to go above and beyond to prove my worthiness to others in order to be accepted and appreciated. My thoughts about myself, had me to believe that being myself just wasn't good enough.
In high school I was able to hide my many emotional flaws with the 50 million other high strung obnoxious teenage peers that attended school with me. I received good grades, was captain of majority of the sports I played, was class vice president, led community service projects and even gained the titled of Homecoming Queen.
Yes, I was quite the busybody and still have a very decorated letterman jacket to prove it! Not to mention, I also had a great support system of friends that I’m still close with to this day. But truth be told, it only enabled me to hide my insecurities and inadequacies I truly felt on the inside.
These feelings stemmed from having low self-esteem, a turbulent relationship with my mother and a long history of daddy-less daughter issues as well. All of which should automatically qualify for a recipe for disaster right?
But fortunately and unfortunately, this is where my drive to be an overachiever came from. It served its purpose to keep me somewhat sane and distracted from my true emotions that often led me to externally and internally emotionally exploded during that time. This was until I finally went off to college.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a proud alumnus of the prestigious Hampton University. It is one of the top Historically Black Universities known to have students come from affluent and wealthy backgrounds. I say that because it was my first time being around modern day “Huxtable's" on an everyday daily basis.
It was a place ideally I always wanted to be apart of my entire life. Young, black and sophisticated individuals striving for excellence both personally and professionally. Little did I know, it would also be the place those same insecurities and inadequacies would show up front and center, yet again in my life. However, this time I had to no choice but to actually deal with them.
To make a long story short, for me Hampton represented survival of the fittest. It was a very competitive and materialistic atmosphere where some kids trust funds was worth more than mother’s salary for one year! I had to learn how to face my fears of feeling less than and easily intimidated by the background of others.
To take it a step further, I also had to recognize that despite my pedigree or lack there of, I still deserved and was worthy to be there as well. It literally forced me to change my thought processes of feelings of inadequacies to feelings of being capable and growing to be emotionally tougher.
It allowed me to feel and know I was the best. It also fueled me to see anything I wanted was achievable as long as I was ready for the mental challenge that came along with the process no matter how far fetched my ideas or dreams seemed. It gave me a renewed sense of confidence that not only changed the way I saw myself, but ultimately the way I interacted with others.
When operating from a place of feeling less than, I often took these feelings out on others. This was especially if I felt intimidated by them.
It cost me some friendships and a few missed opportunities. Not to mention, it only made me feel worse about myself. I was typically either extremely passive or extremely aggressive. Which in hindsight, was really me attempting to protect myself at all costs.
I hated the idea of being vulnerable. And as we all know, when we are it leaves us susceptible to getting hurt. Let’s be clear, at the time I was in no way signing myself up for the slightest chance of being hurt in any capacity.
So God placed me in season of personal isolation. He removed a lot of people in my life, had me confront those that hurt me and make a mends of those I hurted in the process. It was during this time I got the chance to really get to know myself and actually take ownership for my feelings.
Funny thing was, when I finally began my personal emotional work the burdens of my own thoughts didn’t feel as heavy as they once did anymore. I started analyzing and assessing how rational those thoughts really were and what evidence did I have to base them in. I’d like to believe it was my personal breakthrough that has helped lead me to my current journey now.
Thankfully, I can now say I operate from a source of assertiveness versus passive or aggressiveness! With assertiveness, it has given me the ability to be myself, love myself, like myself and express myself in a healthy manner. Thankfully, it only took me 29 years to get here. And to think I still have a long road ahead to learn and grow within it.
I say all because our mindset creates the world that we live in.
The way you see or think about yourself almost always are displayed in our everyday interactions.
If I didn’t make the conscious decision to change my thought processes, more than likely Hey Mz. Lady would still be just a pipe dream. Even further, I could’ve stayed in that miserable place of self pity and woe is me complex that I would've never gotten to know the real me that I love oh so much now!
I respect and honor the journey it took for me to get to this place. It was not and still is not the easiest road to pursue. But at least I am now able to just shut up and enjoy the ride with a positive attitude regardless of wherever it may lead me.