a few weeks ago, i wrote to you all about purpose. in that post, i shared the importance of shattering the limitations we unconsciously force ourselves into so that we might be able to live a purpose driven life. i also told you all that purpose is more than a vocation, a talent, or the advice that you received from your favorite childhood teachers. you remember? if not, feel free to head back to the post titled “there is no such thing as ‘finding my mold,’ CUT IT OUT!” for a refresher. i really need you all to lock onto that message before we get into this week’s conversation. don’t worry, i’ll wait until you get back.
while our primary focus this week is not on purpose but on the importance of authenticity, there is an undeniable correlational relationship between the two. as i said a few weeks ago, finding and living in our purpose requires us to stop chipping away at ourselves to squeeze into a mold. it requires us to recognize all that we were birthed with and begin using those things, tools if you will, to impact the world we occupy. if we are connecting, and i hope that we are, you can probably see where i am going with this. so then, if purpose is so tightly wrapped around us being whole and complete people, there is something to say about the power of being unapologetically ourselves at all times. yes, even when society’s standards and this new age movement tries to filter out what is acceptable and what isn’t. in fact, it is usually in moments of restraint when we owe it to ourselves the most to be who we are.
authenticity does not only ask us to dress or wear our hair a certain way in the name of self-expression. being genuine and authentic also means not robbing ourselves of our potential because of the fear of being the odd one out. i’m one of those empower-the-generation-of-today kind of people. i believe very strongly in today’s youth becoming the leaders and world change agents of tomorrow. with that being said, it is impossible for the youth to recognize their potential when they are not given the opportunity to freely express themselves. there needs to be a space for each and every one of us to feel comfortable enough to say that this is me, i like to write, i like to sing, i like painting and so on. after that, we must be bold enough to do those things the way that we like to. that’s the important part. if we aren’t honest in the ways we express ourselves, we risk living a life of stagnancy. what do I mean? well, take me for example. i have always been a more reserved individual. if I was never pushed to do something, chances are, i wouldn’t do it even if i knew that I would do a good job. because of that, i missed out on many chances to grow. i told myself that no one would understand or that they would blatantly disagree. i stayed quiet. i held my opinions to myself, and ultimately hid who i was. i wasn’t making myself available to build on who i already was. i couldn’t. how could i? i didn’t know where i was in the sense of how much i still needed to grow. how could i if i stayed to myself and refused to try out the things that i thought i would like? there was no way to track my progress. i knew i loved to write for a very long time but i didn’t know i was any good at it or what i should do to improve until i put myself out there. even when i started to share, i was still worried about whether or not people liked what i had to say and was tempted to still hide my opinions and what i really wanted to say. here i am winning one battle but still struggling with another one. i was not walking in my own authenticity without care of what people would say or think of me. i was allowing the fear of being misunderstood and judged by people with different experiences to dictate how much of myself i would share. so, if i was only sharing one half of myself, i was not getting the feedback that i needed to actually grow and thus making me stagnant in my pursuit to fulfill my purpose. you see how connected it all is?
the life that we live is in itself a ministry. i was at a youth session earlier today where a counselor by trade said these words. whether you want to look at it in a spiritual sense or not, what she said is true. the way we dress, walk, speak and carry ourselves leaves impressions wherever we go. therefore, if we dilute who we are and our beliefs, we are living a lesser life. again, just like purpose, we force our impact into a box and tell it to make itself smaller. at the end of the day, everything that we do, say, or even wear carries a message. perhaps by getting up this morning and having that conversation with that woman on the train helped give her confidence to quit the job she hates, in order to do what she loves. maybe, just maybe, the way you dress ends up inviting someone to live a better life. how? because human beings are naturally curious people. we ask questions and are always in search of ways to improve our lives. say you see someone in the grocery store with a poppin’ twist out. you might go up to her and ask her what products she uses and how she prepped her hair the night before. after that, you might go out and purchase those same products and try stretching out twists instead of doing bantu knots. now if that lady was never bold enough to embrace her natural hair, then you would never have learned a new way of doing your own. i know, it’s a simple example. however, the message is still there. when we aren’t operating in our truth, we lose out on moments to inspire and teach other people who might need what we have to offer. in the same sense, if what i am wearing one day spikes a conversation about faith and ends up leading someone to god, then why should i be afraid of doing so? ouch, that struck a nerve. we don’t live our lives solely for ourselves. we are connected to each other and leave impressions on others simply by being true to who we are.
what if i were to tell you that unlocking that purpose lies in your commitment to you own authenticity—that the key to unlocking your maximum potential rests in your ability to say, this is me, take it or leave it. well family, there it is. when we honor our own uniqueness, we allow others to do the same. as i get older, i find myself doing a lot of self-reflection. i think about that skinny girl who migrated to america at the age of seven and said NOTHING to anyone for years. i promise you, i am not exaggerating, ask anyone from my family. they like to mock me about the way i “lived under my mother’s skirt”. they said that because wherever she went, i was hardly an inch away, holding onto the back of her dress. i could go on forever about that little girl. however, i bring her up because i feel as though i owe it to her to be all the things she never found the courage to be. as i am growing and evolving, i am learning to love me more. i am learning to make myself available for me before i do that for anyone else. that took a lot of traveling down the wrong paths and finding out that what was at the end, was never for me in the first place. i needed those experiences to fully appreciate who i am and who i am growing into. they taught me all that i am trying to teach you right now about remaining true and living purposefully authentic. there is a reason why you were created the way you were and it is important that you understand that. there is purpose in being yourself! do not get sidetracked running after what people want you to be so much that you lose everything that you already are. trust me, it’s not worth it. you will end up in a place of emptiness, and even if you are “successful” by society’s definition, you will know that you missed the mark somewhere along the way.
there is an urgency around the need for us to be ourselves. someone, somewhere is depending on you to be yourself. someone, somewhere needs you to be into anime or to express your beliefs in order for them to know what they’re supposed to do. again, we’re all connected. imagine if we weren’t standing at our posts, doing what we were supposed to do because we were too afraid of someone watching us? so many people would feel discouraged from living their optimal life. i’m sure each and every one of us have been told a handful of times that we should just be ourselves. whether it may have been by our parents who saw that we were nervous for the first day of school, or it was by a friend who thought we were behaving out of character. in either case, these people cared enough about us to make sure that we were not selling out in the name of fear or a need to fit into the “in crowd”. perhaps many of you may have even been encouraged to stand out instead of fitting in. there goes that reoccurring theme of avoiding constricted spaces and molds. it’s so important that we steer away from what is bent on putting us into boxes and take away from who we already are.
so, to my seven year old self, i apologize for trying to squeeze you into a box. to my sixteen year old self, i apologize for not standing up for you and pulling you away from opportunities that would have maximized your growth. to my twenty year old self, i am so sorry for making you think that you had to be someone else to be appreciated. i did all of those things out of fear of not being accepted and understood. at the time, i did not realize that i would never be understood, me, christina, by trying to be someone i was not. going forward, i want to challenge myself to remain true to myself come hell or high water as my mother would say. translation, i want to challenge myself to remain true to myself no matter how hard it will be. i owe it to myself to carry out every purpose that became dormant when i was too busy trying to be someone else. i owe it to those coming up behind me to remain at my post and see to it that no seven year girl feels like she is living in someone else’s shadow.
so in closing, let’s put this into practice shall we. for those who grew up in the church, or is used to the rhetoric of the black church, i want you to turn to your neighbor (anyone in close proximity to you) and make this self-declaration:
“i will no longer occupy a half empty self. i will live at the level of my authenticity.”
peace, love & blessings.