This post has taken me weeks to write.
I can’t seem to get it right.
And even now, I’m not even 100% confident in this final draft, but it’s a topic that has been sitting in my head for 18 days.
I actually drafted this well over a year ago — I gave it the title and everything.
I put it away, thinking it wasn’t the right time.
Then 18 days ago, I found it in my drafts and started to rework it because it went along with my word “BE” for this year.
Now here I am, almost three weeks later, and it just hasn’t felt….right.
I can’t get my words across without sounding completely douchey — and I am trying to avoid that here.
But in an effort to stay true to the topic of this post, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and post this — hoping it lands with someone.
I’m not trying to “humble brag” or be someone who paints herself as a girl that has been bullied into submission her whole life.
Although there is a little truth to that, what this really boils down to is that I have struggled with confidently “taking up my space.”
In the last few years, I’ve watched my sister learn to occupy her space, and I admire her because it takes courage to speak your truth and live authentically.
But I am so scared of occupying my space….out of fear of retribution.
I’ve forced myself to hide because who I am made other people uncomfortable, and it has become so frustrating.
Don’t be this. Don’t be that. Be this. Be that. Look this way, not that way. Dress like this, not like that.
It’s so exhausting.
So I’ve been wrestling with myself on how to just BE who I am without worrying about everyone else.
Then, two weeks ago, while in conversation with my sister, she referenced Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach’s podcast “We Can Do Hard Things” with guest Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body is not an Apology.
I’m not a big podcast person, but I felt like I needed to listen to it.
And I’m so glad I did.
It was a conversation that I was meant to hear because it spoke exactly to what I was wrestling with inside.
There was one line that Sonya said that resonated deeply with me. She said:
“We are suffering when we fail to see our own magnificence.”
And that is what is happening to me.
I’ve been suffering this whole time because not only have I failed to see it — even if I catch a glimpse of it, I get scared and hide it.
And not because I am scared by it —
I am scared of how others will treat me when they see it.
I have always tried to veer far away from attention.
The less people notice me, the better.
I had more confidence and swagger as a little girl because I was an innocent child.
But by the time I was in middle school, like all girls hitting puberty, that confidence faltered.
By high school, it was shaky at best.
By college, I was hanging on by a thread.
Although some things provided an escape — like leading worship or singing, which brought me such joy because I was doing something I loved — I couldn’t balance doing what I loved with the trauma and pain that was rooted inside me.
And as all that trauma and pain began to manifest in unhealthy ways, the opportunities to do what I love stopped.
By adulthood, any confidence or chances to feel good about myself disappeared to the point that I couldn’t recognize confidence, even if it hit me in the face.
I, instead, taught myself how to hide and shrink away.
I carried that “shrink away” mentality even in leadership roles.
Here I was, given multiple opportunities to be a leader, and you’d think I would recognize that those were given to me because I was capable and successful.
Instead, I believed I got it because “no one else was available” and would apply my mentality of “hide” as a leader — and tell my team that my goal for our grade level/department was to “bring little to no attention to ourselves. Fly under the radar, do our jobs well, and keep it moving.”
It’s just easier not to create any waves, you know?
Put your head down and do the damn thing.
Why rock the boat?
But here’s the thing:
We weren’t all created to fly under the radar.
One of my favorite quotes is a Korean proverb that literally translated means “there are those who run and those who fly above them.”
I interpret that as:
Some were meant to be ordinary, while others were destined to be extraordinary.
Since my mid-20s, I have been a hide-my-light-under-the-bushel kind of gal who secretly dreamed of being a SHINE YO LIGHT BRIGHT AF kind of gal.
And it’s always left me feeling frustrated.
And it was no one else’s fault but my own because I never allowed myself to shine my light.
Because if I even thought about doing that, it just pissed people off.
And I’m not saying that to be dramatic.
When I tell you people got mad at me, I mean it quite literally — people got mad at me.
I’ve been yelled at, confronted, and accused of many things —
— all because I was more successful at something than they were.
I have always envied people who could praise themselves for something they had achieved or those who could shamelessly promote something they were doing.
To be honest, it annoys me.
And I’m not talking about the ones who do it cause they’re desperately seeking validation.
That’s a different issue.
I’m talking about the ones who are genuinely proud of something they’ve done or are a part of….
They’re not trying to brag or anything.
But like Kendrick Lamar said….“B-tch, sit down, be humble.”
Like…how are they this confident?
How are they so proud?
Are they not concerned that someone will barrel through their moment like a bull in a china shop?
But what I am feeling is rooted in jealousy.
Not of their achievements.
But the fact that they can be so proud of themselves without worrying about how people are going to attack them.
Do you know how long it took my sister to convince me to promote my blog posts on Instagram?
I hated the idea of self-promotion because I feared how it would be received.
How come no one else fears that?
Maybe they do?
Maybe people do attack them, and they are just unbothered?
It’s their “unbothered” IDGAF mentality that I envy.
I wish I knew how not to GAF.
But then I also wonder if people just hate me so much that they want to ensure I have no chance to feel proud of myself.
It’s as if they are hellbent on robbing me of feeling good about myself.
Maybe they believed it is their job to make sure I know I did not earn anything I achieved because I could actually be good at it.
Maybe they needed to make sure I was reminded that all of my success was achieved through lying, scheming, and manipulation (which is a lie in itself, but what do you do when you are gaslit to believe that?).
Or maybe…just maybe…I gave them way too much power?
I have allowed this kind of treatment
Cause, truth be told….I just want to avoid unwarranted confrontation.
I don’t want people to hate me.
I am already the black sheep in my family…
I have no real friends…and no real social life….
I don’t want to become even more of an outcast.
So, you did something good? Accomplish something great?
Throw that shiz in the closet, girl, and lock the door.
Don’t talk about it.
Don’t acknowledge it.
Just keep it moving.
Once I had an awkward interaction with a former coworker about something I had achieved.
She was a teacher who worked in the same district as me and had later moved to the new school I was working at. I didn’t know her…had never even met her.
It was during the first days before the new school year began and she approached me after a faculty meeting, and in front of some of my colleagues, said with a huge grin on her face, “I know you! I recognized your name! You’re the teacher that _____ while I was at _____! You are an amazing teacher!”
Now, someone with a lot of pride, who isn’t ashamed of feeling that pride, would be like, “Oh yeah! That’s me!”
I, however, immediately remember cringing and mumbling, “oh, uh, yeah, that wasn’t that big a deal,” and I changed the subject.
I started to panic that she was trying to belittle me and now my new colleagues, who had only known me for a year at that point, would begin to change their opinions about me.
Why did this broad have to bring that up??
What was she trying to do to me?? Why couldn’t I get away from this?!
I know now, that she was saying it very innocently and genuinely acknowledging my achievement…but GIRL…someone needed to tell her I was trying to forget it!
Because what she didn’t know is that on the day of the event she was referring to, as I was on my way to being recognized for the achievement, I was yelled at and berated for being the only one acknowledged for working hard.
So, a moment I should have been incredibly proud of — was stolen from me.
Instead, I came home that day in tears and hated myself for not just “flying under the radar” and leaving well enough alone.
Why did I have to try so hard?
I hated that I had this deep need to excel at my work.
Contrary to popular belief, I never wanted to excel to prove that I’m better than everyone else.
I want to excel because I thought I was supposed to do that.
The bar I set for myself at work, in life, in love, and in relationships — is very high — so those things will either be excellent or not for me.
I’m going to work at a level of excellence.
Live life excellently.
Be a friend excellently.
And that’s not to say I’ve been successful at being excellent in all those things, but I never want to do anything half-assed.
It’s just not the way I was raised.
It’s not how I was created.
But after that fateful day, I realized that even if I do something with excellence, I should never, ever be proud of it.
I conditioned myself to believe that people would hate me if my excellence was acknowledged.
I have been so worried that any reaction other than dismissing myself could be perceived as cocky, making people hate me.
But looking back at it now, let me say…..that SUCKS!!
I should have been proud!
It was a big damn deal!
But I let ONE person’s insecurity and jealousy rob that moment from me.
In Glennon and Abby’s podcast, Sonya spoke on this.
She said, “The only person that would say you are somehow deficient and not enough and need to change and are not good enough, inherently valuable enough in the beingness that you are today, is someone who profits from you not believing that; someone who profits from your failure to see you and your magnificence.”
Why she gotta be right all the time?!?
But where is the lie?!
People who stomp you down are trying to force you to fit in the little box they’ve created for you — because it’s easier to stomach you when you stay in that box.
If you get too big or outgrow that box, they feel threatened!
Why have I internalized other people’s insecurities or limitations as reasons to be ashamed of who I am and the greatness that lies within me?
Why am I always trying to hide?
Why do I fear being seen or noticed?
What’s wrong with owning who I am?
What’s wrong with being proud of accomplishments?
What’s so wrong with believing that I am actually…..GREAT?
Why do I insist on running when I was meant to fly?
This isn’t about being better or more than someone else —
It’s owning what is rightfully yours…
And who you are in all your glory.
It’s accepting that, yes, I AM great.
It’s unapologetically YOU whether they approve or not.
It’s no longer tolerating being bulldozed and railroaded because you’re worried they will feel some way.
It’s choosing to come out of the shadow of whoever you’re hiding behind and stand in the light of your badassery.
It’s knowing that I am an EXTRAORDINARY person in an ORDINARY world.
I always referred to myself as somebody’s “sidekick.”
After all, that was what I was relegated to and, eventually, a role I continued to play because that’s who I believed I was.
A role that had me convinced that I would never be worthy enough for the spotlight.
Even now, a coworker has referred to me as her “pet” …
At first, I took it as a joke, and I know she meant it as such.
But you know what?
The more I think about it, the less I like it.
I ain’t your pet.
I ain’t nobody’s damn sidekick.
I am the effing HEROINE here.
Y’all should be taking NOTES about how I do the damn thing!
I am tired of believing that it is somehow egotistical to admit that you believe you are destined for something bigger and more excellent.
The Christian ideology ingrained in me has made me believe I need to stay humble and pious and never overconfident or overzealous.
And that’s right — to an extent.
I shouldn’t be confident and zealous to the point that I manipulate or steamroll other people to achieve success.
But I also don’t need to be so humble and modest that I allow others to destroy me and keep me down when I have achieved success.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean I have to accept that my life is meant to be mediocre when I know deep down I am extraordinary.
I don’t have to BE anything people force me to be….
I am going to be exactly who I was DESTINED to be….
Who I BELIEVE to be….
An extraordinary person.