In life, we will get knocks, we will be challenged and we will inevitably grow and should learn from all of them, but sometimes someone says something or we make certain adjustments and it lingers. Recently, I have been thinking about the ways in which it became the norm for me to reduce myself and allow myself to feel small. So, this week on the blog, I share.
I am no longer shrinking to be digestible, you can choke.
Recently, I was listening to an episode on Meghan Markle’s podcast, Archetypes and something she said resonated with me I actually got emotional. She was discussing ambition in women, with her guest Serena Williams, and mentioned the ways in which women naturally shrink themselves in order to make others comfortable. This literally made me tingle, because I 100% saw myself and knew this message was meant for me. I have blogged a lot in the past about how I am actively working on my self confidence and stepping into my power and this is the case, but in doing so, I can’t help but think of the corner I shrunk myself into in the first place. Let me explain, I have always been the type to not like attention, it’s overwhelming and fully awcks and well, I squirm at the very idea. Was I always like that? Who knows, but I do know the moments when I slowly but surely chipped away at parts of myself in order to make someone more comfortable. This wasn’t something I was fully conscious of, but what I do know was that I felt it was “easier” to hide or alter those parts of myself for what I deemed as love. Or better yet, for their comfort and for what I perceived as my peace of mind. Don’t get me wrong, I was in love and I thought it was for life, I sometimes wish it was….but at the end of the day- instead of making me happier, I became resentful, angry, bitter and a version of myself I still cringe when I think about it.
In some ways, I want to tap back into the confidence she had, the freedom she felt and the lack of self-doubt that didn’t seem to exist in her thoughts until it began to creep in, in the later years.
I never associated myself with the word sexy until well into my 30’s, in high school, I wasn’t cool or popular, I was popular with the nerds at best. Needless to say, growing up in a religious family, I learnt to hid my figure and to not embrace the fact that I had curves and substantial breasts for my tiny frame, so yea- sexy wasn’t on the cards for me. Adding to this, one of my closest friendships ended over a dude my friend had a crush on attempting to hit on me, being rejected and him proceeding to lie about it to said friend, claiming I tried it on with him! Trust me, I did no such thing and I was 100% still a virgin in all its forms at that stage. Needless to say, I felt a lot of shame and detachment to/with my body, but mostly because people seemed to judge me for it and treated me in ways I didn’t even see for myself about myself. Naturally, I chose to simply hide my body- I didn’t do anything which drew attention to me, I didn’t wear revealing clothing, in fact I was so much one of the boys, I dressed like one, but this didn’t stop the attention, in some ways it heightened it. If I were to be honest, this hiding didn’t last very long, because I decided that if people were going to make the assumptions about me, then I might as well embrace it and simply live my life for myself and dress how I saw and feel fit. But the sad part was the fact that I let others’ opinions of me affect the ways in which I felt about myself.
I can safely say, that negative self-talk is 100% something I suffer from, I am never the first to give myself credit for the hard work I do- I just don’t see it as something worth expressing, I simply get on with it. Maybe it stems from seeing my mother, a single mother of 4, just hustle in life, without a car, without her family in the country, yet she was always smiling and energetic. She never seemed to stop and wallow in self-pity, life just rolled on and I tended to do the same. But because of that, I didn’t allow myself to fully foster a good mindset, I didn’t get in the habit of tooting my own horn and almost inflating my worth. The fact of the matter is, navigating life as a Black woman in this society, is hard and we know the support doesn’t often come from the outside, so who else, if not me to inflate my ego? If I don’t sow the seeds of a great mindset, who will do it for me? For some reason, I allowed negative self-talk to hinder some of my growth, I didn’t leave my long-term relationship because I felt like no one would want to be with a single mother, I didn’t see myself as attractive in any way, I stayed in a lower position, because I wasn’t sure I had the qualifications to take on the position I really desired. All of this was because I simply didn’t believe in myself, I allowed myself to remain stagnant and accept the bare minimum. But the great thing about life, is that it can ALWAYS be redefined, it can ALWAYS change and you ALWAYS have options. No matter what you choose to do with it, you have options, even if it may take you years to take the leap or even if you simply do not take the chance- just know that options exist. I had to find a way to remind myself of that and to step into the my own power and the strength that I knew deep down I possessed. I did so many things, and many of them I did scared, I did without a full on plan, I took leaps and life rewarded me- I can most definitely tap into that girl again! What I know for sure, is that I will no longer allow negative self-talk to stop me from trying something new or to take a risk.
Do not shrink yourself to make others feel good about themselves.Brad Turnbull
I have always been opinionated and have always loved to learn, and develop my thought process and ideas. But, sometimes my bluntness and my ability to have something to say about everything seemed to rub people the wrong way. Because of this, I sadly began to hide my voice. I was told that I was too opinionated, I was contrary, I was looking for arguments or fights; when in reality I genuinely loved debates, discussing hot button topics ( hence this blog ) and really wanted to understand from another perspective. I was always a very social person, I get along with most people and because of this I amassed a big social friend group, but my partner at the time was very much and introvert and didn’t like to socialize very much. The right solution would have been to compromise and do things we both felt comfortable with, but the reality was that chose to mute myself. Don’t get me wrong, I fully accept that in order to lose your voice, you have to allow someone to take it and I did so. It wasn’t an obvious, clear moment, but it was definitely handed over for what I thought would be “ease”. But how wrong was I? How was I to know that my voice was unique and should never be hidden, how was I to know that the silence would begin to suffocate me and eventually build resentment and lead to end of the very relationship I gave my voice up for?