This is a photograph of me(on the right) and my cousin Sallay (co-owner of Amyang Fashun) at Afropunk NYC. Even now, I am cringing at the thought of publishing this. But I think it’s important to highlight what this photo represents for me and my mission. This picture awoke in me a sense of inadequacy that I haven’t felt since I first came up with the idea of Dream, Leap, Live, which is to support approval-addicted women in honoring themselves by pursuing their dreams fearlessly and without comparing their journeys to anyone else’s. Looking at this picture forced me to sit with a fear that has haunted me for years:the fear of being exposed as not having it all together. I took one look at this photo and decided that somehow I had failed at life because I didn’t look like I had been photoshopped. I laid face-up in bed, two ears full of tears, and philosophizing with my husband (gentle, patient soul that he is) about whether I am equipped to coach women through their perfectionism, insecurities, and need for external validation when I still do the occasional self-judgment dance myself.
Most people know me as pretty comfortable in my skin, and a lot of the time I am. But looking at this picture let me know that I have a LOT more work to do on accepting myself fully. My discomfort with this picture is not about me needing to lose weight or tighten and tone my abs, though that’s the first place my mind went when I looked at it. The hard truth is that until I feel as accepting of myself–flaws and all– as I am motivated by my mission (empowering 10,000 women to get free from the need for other’s approval and pursue their dreams unapologetically), I will continue to hold myself back. Poor self-perception will lead me to sabotage my own growth and keep me from living my most delicious life. So that shit needs to stop NOW. I truly believe that I was called to lead women on the journey to self-acceptance and self-expression, so I need to run out of Self-Shame Swamp and into the field of Fierce, Free, and Fearless.
I want to get to a place where how I see myself trumps everything else, and where I am so busy living up to my own standards that I don’t feel pressure to meet anyone else’s. I’m done hiding the “ugly” parts of me. I’m done apologizing for the things that I need to work on. It’s up to me to continue doing the work and love myself the whole time. I am not broken. I don’t need to be fixed. I was blessed with many gifts and talents that I am happy to share with the world, and if, for whatever reason, someone is too distracted by my jelly to appreciate that, then they can happily kick rocks and rain on somebody else’s parade. I dare to show up in the world as a less-than-perfect work in progress, because I know who I really am and what I’m here to do. I know that the woman I need to become to accomplish my mission would never be defeated just because she didn’t match someone else’s criteria; she would create her own!
This picture and my reactions to it say so much.It’s all out there on the table for you: I am a flawed human being. I sometimes compare myself to the women I see in music videos and at the gym. I get insecure. I fantasize about having a flat stomach, radiant skin, more manageable hair, and a 26-inch waist. But in the real world– you know, that place that you and I live in right now–I have a 31-inch waist, a somewhat squishy midriff, occasional breakouts, and kinky coarse hair that does what it feels like doing. And neither my worth nor my deliciousness are affected by any of these things. No matter how I may occur to others, no matter how others may see me, as long as I am accepting of and loving toward myself, I am on track for a life that feels like a luxurious staycation. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
* I wanna hear from you: What have you been fighting to hide? What kind of person would you need to become to accept that part of you, and how would your life open up if you did? Let me know in the Comments.