What was your journey to being your authentic self?
In my career, there were many times when I was the only person in the room or floor who looks and talks the way I do. While that was uncomfortable in the early stages of my career, it ultimately became my superpower and something that I saw as an opportunity to represent Black girls … who I hope are proud to have me as a representative.
At one point in my career, I took a break to be a stay at home mom. While that time with my twins was wonderful, I felt very uncomfortable in how that was perceived. In my mind, I was jobless and that was failure. I struggled for quite some time to determine who I was outside of my role as mom. Eventually, I had to feel okay about the fact that I wanted to do both. That’s who I am … a career woman and bomb mom. So, I used my discomfort for good and started my own consulting firm.
In the last year and a half, I left my consultancy business behind and accepted the position as AVP of marketing and communications at Evergreen Health. While I was certainly prepared for the role, I found myself feeling like I wasn’t the right choice. Thank goodness my boss was there to tell me that I was suffering from imposter syndrome. He also reminded me that I had to forge my own path and do things “my way.” The moment set me free and gave me permission to be my authentic self … passionate, witty and super stylish.
What are some ways to be yourself?
Personally, the road to being my authentic self often starts in my closet. I love putting together outfits and playing “dress up”. Selecting the perfect outfit is a key step in my preparation for a meeting or other important opportunity. If I’m nervous about something, I find the baddest shoes in my closet or the brightest outfit and use it as my strength. My mom calls it, “faking it until you make it.” The only person who knows you are scared is you … but you might as well look good while doing it.
What are some challenges someone may face by being their authentic self?
My greatest challenge when it comes to being myself is getting out of my own head. I’m my worst critique. I often find that if I can just stop beating myself up, I can find my way back to my center. I think we’re always our own worst critique, but the negative stories we tell ourselves start to take hold of us and becomes the reality. A little grace goes a long way. Being my authentic self includes making mistakes, admitting them, learning from them and trying again.
How were you able to be yourself in the face of adversity?
It’s a process and I’m still learning. A few things that have worked for me when trying to find myself in the face of adversity are to:
- Remember who ultimately serves as my greatest judge
- Stop the negative stories I tell myself. It’s hard, but nothing good can come from beating yourself up
- Turning to my crew of mentors, family and friends. They’ll always tell me the truth and help me to see the path ahead.
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