“I still couldn’t own being powerful. I tried hard to make myself smaller. As small as possible. Tried not to take up space or make too much noise. Every time I won an award or something big happened, I worked to appear a little bit sillier and sweeter and simpler in the face of my own greatness. I just wanted everyone else to feel comfortable. Funny thing is, no one ever asked me to do it. It just seemed like what I was supposed to do.” ~ ‘Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rhimes
Truer words have never been written. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration by what I mean is that the level of reliability and number of ‘OMGs’ I mouthed as I sat on the train (because of course we don’t exclaim loudly on UK transport) was simply incredible!
Unfortunately due to the patriarchal society we live in, as a young woman this is something that inevitably we all are forced to face. But in my story it’s ironic that the times I felt this the most was against a strong oestrogen-scented environment.
You see, I attended all-girls schools for most of my teenage years. In fact my whole time in high school was spent with other women which looking back was truly such a privilege – to learn how to grow and develop and come into my own without worry of the Male gaze and desperate need for constant validation from the opposite sex. Although this is something I still struggled with, I was able to develop a sense of academic independence and confidence by being around other intelligent women.
But that’s not what this is about.
I am smart. Really academically smart. I’ve consistently done well at school. (University is not included because that’s a whole other lesson sent straight from the Holy Spirit, we’ll discuss it at another time #pinkiepromise) But back to what we were saying…I am an intelligent girl. But even just typing all this, I’m looking for ways to re-write it in a way that sounds less ‘arrogant’, less ‘up myself’ and that solely stems from my inability to receive a compliment. God forbid my teacher ever tried to encourage me in front of the class, I truly would feel like the ground should open up and swallow me. I felt as though any accolade (that I actually deserved) would make another girl around me uncomfortable and as a result I developed a habit of not celebrating my wins. I became so comfortable in my self-proclaimed mediocrity that I was physically incapable of waking up & smelling the very many flowers God had placed around me.
Like legit, the most amazing thing could happen and my only reaction would be ‘wow, okay on to the next.’ So reading that one of my main inspirations in life, Ms Shonda Rhimes has gone through and worded this experience in the most accurate of ways really blew my mind. Because it made me realise, that it’s actually an epidemic amongst us women. History proves that women have always felt the need to be overly modest about their successes and not fill a room. A woman’s mind – a black woman’s mind sent a man to space but she’d literally have to remain a ‘hidden figure’ in history until someone dug through the mounts of white male success to uncover her story. Realising this has helped me let go of some pain I had surrounding the issue and also makes me admire those around me who don’t apologise for being great. Who demand that they are listened to and respected. Because if I don’t do it, no one can or will do it for me. I will never forget witnessing my Grandma say ‘you didn’t know before’ when my mum told her she was beautiful. In this moment it clicked as to how my mum became so confident. She was exposed to an image of a woman who may not have had a whole lot but consistently instilled a sense of self-value and confidence in her children and I’m so glad that the ways in which my mum has done the same for my sisters and I is finally being activated. I can’t walk past a mirror without stopping and realising – damn, you are truly beautiful, there’s no flaw in you and have this confirmed by the Bible, read about it here.
Eventually I noticed that the more I became confident about my beauty or any gift or talent God gave me, the more other people recognised this talent within me as well and the less I was ‘shocked’ or ‘surprised’ at their complementary comments. All I could say was ‘thank you’ with an ‘I know right?’ echoing in my mind. It meant
I was no longer searching for people’s validation
but rather was humbled by the fact that God deemed me worthy enough to possess the kind of mind and imagination I have. The perfect puzzle is created once we can ask God to hold up a mirror to us and show us our worth and follow through by believing that every facet of our being, our sheer existence is flawless in His eyes. That is where true confidence is birthed and how self-love is attained. That is when a compliment doesn’t embarrass you. That is when you don’t feel like you have to dim your light to make someone else feel comfortable.
“He is very dreamy Meredith, but He isn’t the Sun – You Are”. ~ Cristina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy
One of the best lines uttered by my favourite character on my favourite show (which ironically is the character Shonda wrote specifically as her dream self ie. is Shonda’s fave character too, we so connected!) These lines really shaped the characterisation of Meredith over the next few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (zero spoilers here) because suddenly she epitomised that fully. Currently, her confidence on the show is so palpable and attests to how much freedom one can experience when they recognise the value they had placed in someone else, in themselves.
The World has said: ‘Hide your light under a bushel’
The Word says: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16)
Let people be in awe of you so they have to stop and ask: ‘what is it about you?’ And you then have to proceed to stare at them straight in the eyes, stare at all the pain and confusion and point up to God – encouraging them to experience the freedom and the copious amounts of love and zest for life that can only come from Him.
“I’m trying to take up as much space as I need to take up. To not make myself smaller in order to make myself feel better. I’m allowing myself to shamelessly and comfortable be the loudest voice in the room….I strive for badassery.” ~ ‘Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rhimes
‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ by Queen Latifah: So as much as I wanna take the praise for being well-cultured in the Rap world, I am still learning and I didn’t stumble upon this song by choosing to listen to Queen Latifah’s music. In fact for the longest time, I didn’t even know she started out her career as a musician! How amazing that you can experience various career paths in one lifetime. More power to you Queen Latifah – truly showing us women that we don’t have to fit into one box✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿Anyhow, the point is I came across this song when she performed it as part of Remy Ma’s incredible Hot 97 Summer Jam 2017 set which included the most colourful celebration of female rappers (I truly wished her and Nicki didn’t have beef at this point because I missed Nicki’s presence but I digress yet again). The song was used to end the segment where Remy had brought out legendary female rappers as well as young up and comers to celebrate the power that is WOMAN. Once I heard this song and its lyrics I was hooked. And the old school vibe it gave made me so happy especially realising the knowledge she was spitting in her verses at a time when women were even more ostracised than they are now. It is an anthem for black women but I feel any woman can identify with a struggle to love herself fully and that ends up being projected on other women creating weird vibes amongst us. This song encourages us to love and have confidence in ourselves first and to see and demand that for other women despite the lack of respect men may have for us.
“What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves” ~ ‘Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rhimes
So without further ado:
Peace & Love,