Speak Up and Stand Up For Yourself

I tried to go along to get along. I tried to be meek. I told myself, “The meek shall inherit the Earth”. I got run over. I got taken advantage of. It was implied I was a tool. The people who hung around me often times weren’t my real friends, they were users. They didn’t care about me, only what they could get from me. And they got a lot while I sacrificed my wishes and my dignity.

Lately, something inside of me has been clicking that maybe standing up for myself is just a life lesson I had to learn from even a young age, possibly even during a time when I had hoped my parents would do it. But my mother could not do it because she had not learned of her own worth. You can never truly give someone something you don’t have. Because my more did not want to ask for what she deserved, she wasn’t able to teach me how to do it. As a result, I had to teach myself. Otherwise, I’d suffer.

One of the things I have come to accept is that no matter what position anyone holds, no matter their age, race, creed, lifestyle, no matter what you believe they can do for you, it’s important that you speak up and stand up for yourself. Be your own advocate and be proud of who you are and what you are. You deserve it as a beautiful reflection of the Divine. Own who you are. Own what you are. Love it. Advocate on your own behalf.

That is what that painful experience in the NICU that resulted in me recently waking up in the morning with a sense of panic was about. Realizing that to expect others to advocate for me all the time is futile. The message was to teach me the importance of not going along to get along. It was to tell me that it was not necessary or even healthy to be completely passive. Express how you feel. Say what you want. Speak up. Love yourself enough to do it. Love yourself enough to know you matter. Acknowledge that you matter! Because you do.

Asserting yourself isn’t being controlling of other people. It’s self-control. It means that you’re telling people clearly and concisely what you want and taking ownership of your behavior and how you go about communicating that to others. It’s okay. It’s not abusive. It’s honest. As I’ve come to step further into my own womanhood and adulthood, this has become even more important. Once again, just tell the truth.

Tell The Truth: I Don’t Care To Fit In

I never really cared to fit in. For as long as I can remember, I did my own thing. I knew people, I talked to people, but I often only had one or two real friends at a time. There’s been moments in my life where I’ve been lonely and felt this overwhelming feeling that I just didn’t belong. And that was depressing. Because while I didn’t care to fit in, I just wanted to feel a sense of belonging, an acceptance somewhere of who I am. And the truth is, in those moments, I didn’t really accept myself.

The reality is, who cares if I just want to stay and home and spend time with my boyfriend playing world of warcraft, or watching Supernatural on Netflix. Why does it matter if my favorite pastime is blogging and journal writing? Or if I choose not to kill myself working 6 twelve hour shifts a week if I can afford to make ends meet and I’m happy? So I bought a dog that likes to scream like a banshee and I like him even though we literally, physically fight and he’s afraid of little kids, runners, and bicyclists. He’s my buddy.

It’s time we accept our own kooky and stop letting the world define us. This world’s definitions of me has ranged from somewhat accurate to down right deranged and I’d rather it not tell me who I am suppose to be or how I’m suppose to feel about what’s in front of me or in my life right now. Here’s a fact about me right now: I’m sick of trying to live up to white standards. Yep. I did it. I suffocated my identity to make white people and asian people feel more comfortable around me as a black woman. I’ve done it. I’ve toned it down, tied it up, buried it under and now I just won’t. I don’t care if I have friends of other races if they can’t accept me as I am and support me and see me as the wonderful creation God created me to be simply because my skin is a different shade. Those people (and I’ve met many) can go. Find someone else who meets your standards of blackness or who makes you feel safe. I’m done. And I’m a happier person for it.

I’ve come to learn that I am a beautiful reflection of the Divine, no matter what anyone says or what the world thinks. I’ve come to love the skin I’m in, the face I see in the mirror, the hair that grows from my head, the soul that animates this body, the mind that gives birth to valuable (and sometimes not so valuable lol ) ideas, and the gifts that have helped me navigate this life. Sometimes you just have to let the world know who you are. Quite frankly, this is who I am.

Tell The Truth: Keep It Real Contest

The goal was to play it cool and nonchalant about everything. The more “real” you could appear the better. That was work for me in DC. The coolest person was the one who could keep it the most “real”. I hated being amongst that game. I damn sure couldn’t/didn’t want to play it. I believe in honesty and truth. But “keeping it real” and “telling the truth” is not always the same thing. Telling the truth involves opening one’s heart to allow oneself to be vulnerable or admitting when you’re afraid to be vulnerable. “Keeping it real” was just another way of masking anger and passive-aggressiveness, “strong personalities”, and other trivialities. When I look back, I didn’t belong.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on this. As I said, my time there in the NICU has been coming up for me quite frequently as I try to figure out how I want to “show up” in the world. I’ve been fearful because of my experiences while at Catholic University of America. The level of self-doubt I accrued during that time was immense and slowly I’ve been chipping away at it. Just the fact that I am able to write here this openly and honestly is a reflection of my own heart and solar plexus opening up to allow the truth to come forward. I’d gotten use to hiding who I truly am and how I truly feel in order to function.

I’ve allowed myself to remain present in my body. Initially, it was scary. Being in my body meant being here, a place I didn’t always want to be. I have to remind myself that nothing can hurt me without my permission. I have to remind myself that I am as much a beautiful reflection of the Divine as all of creation. I matter. I have no reason to fear anyone or anything. When I remind myself of this, my shoulders relax, my awareness returns, I am once again fully in my body, and I am not afraid of white supremacy or anger and passive aggressive energies. I do not entertain the thought of possession. I remember that if I align myself with honesty, if I ground myself in truth and love, then I need not fear the outcome. I can hold my head up high, I can relax my shoulders, and I can wear my crown with grace.

The last few days have helped me come to appreciate the idea of being my own advocate. This is big for me. Before I lamented the idea. But now I truly relish the idea of having the strength of will, self-awareness, and character, to truly speak up for what I feel is right in my own being. As I transition fully into my own womanhood, I’ve come to embrace that ability to rely on myself and to speak my own truth in a world that may or may not want to hear it. This was not always easy. But part of embracing my own womanhood means taking responsibility for who I am, what I do, and how I show up in the world. It means owning up to my past, present, and being accountable for what I create in the future.

This is the first time that I’ve actually come to realize that I am a grown up. I’m a grown up! I’m one of those “big people” that as a kid I had to stand up to and get “put in one’s place” as a result of it. I’m a grown up now too! And that means taking ownership of myself, being accountable for myself, my time, and speaking up to advocate for myself. Thank God I had practice. Now I can take ownership of it and be proud of what it has taught me.

I’m a grown up! And if there is something that I do not like, I do not have to put up with it. I can speak up about it! I’m not a victim and I can speak my truth. I did this as a child. I can do it again as a woman.