Be True to Yourself
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man/
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
– William Shakespeare
From the time I could put one foot in front of the other, I've walked to the beat of my own drum. I've never ever, even to this day, been the guy who blends in, fits in, conforms, or goes along with the crowd because it is the easy or popular thing to do. At work I've never been a "yes" person, unless it is a truthful response. I grew up in a family of black women strong and dominant. I was the first born in my generation of. . . well, only the Lord knows how many of us there are to date.
For many years, there was a time when I would grapple with the thought that I just wasn't normal. Of all the immediate families in my extended family, fate would have it that mine was the only household where my grandmother was divorced and widowed, in addition to my mom having never married. Early in life and on through much of my teenage years, it really bothered me when our extended family would come together (especially at Christmas) and everyone else had both a mom and a dad, and two sets of grandparents. It wasn't the best feeling, and for many years I would silently cry about it. It made me feel different, ostracized, and completely un-relatable. It certainly didn't help that as I began getting older, I had more of an effeminate nature. From school to play life, I was often teased and taunted. I learned to fight, often gaining respect by defending myself against bullies. Such experiences taught me how to become both an introvert and an extrovert. I began to develop a big personality, through which I learned to mask the hurt I was really feeling. In school, I excelled academically and often finished my classwork before the other kids so I could entertain and distract them from ridiculing me. Interestingly, all that helped numb my feelings and lay the foundation to become an overachiever. I wanted to be the first and best at everything I set out to do. Unless you were my mom, Granny, Grandmamma, Grandpa Adams, Uncle Walter, Auntie Angie, Uncle Clark or Grandpa Ted, and a handful of other family members, my "village," compliments meant absolutely NOTHING to me. In fact, they meant as much as a degrading comment did. I became my worst critic.
Things affect us in odd ways. By 16 I had graduated from high school and gained early admission into Howard University. Though I was there for only two-and-a-half years, my life has been nothing short of controversial, yet gratifying. Reflecting on how I thought about relationships in my late teens and early 20s, if I was going to have a significant other, he would have to be a man of great means. My friends knew me to live by these words for many years. However, my closest friends knew that my reasoning for this mandate wasn't the obvious. It was because I've always been kind of eccentric, and in my young mind it would take a similar man or a man whose money gave him the confidence to not give a damn about what other people think. Well, I've had rich and I’ve had poor. They are both equal opportunity heartbreakers.
I often think that if I could be of “service," if I can help somebody get to the authenticity of who they really are, then I am in true alignment with my own life's purpose. At this point, it is why I can be so open and candid with all of you. As with many other, I’ve had some experiences. I'm on a new journey, a new mission to be as transparent as I can. I call it BeGeorgeous
Today, I still dream. In my favorite movie, the latest version of Cinderella, Cate Blanchett is the wicked stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter is the fairy Godmother. I'm reminded of some of the adversities that I've endured, and the fact that others have their battles too. In the film, there's a very profound statement that resonates with me everyday. After enduring the loss of both parents, the title character was given the name Cinderella by her wicked stepsisters and stepmother in an attempt to hurt her. As she was leaving with the future king the home where she was raised, Cinderella paused in the mirror and reflected upon her mother's voice uttering: "This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will take, to be seen as we truly are. Have courage and be kind."
At this moment in my life, I find joy in the fact that many negative things are now in the past and I feel accomplished! I'm certain that the only way to have gotten here is to have gone through the rain, and weathered the storm to find myself in the Land of Oz "somewhere over the rainbow."
Some of us have never had mothers, fathers, or a Rock of Gibraltar to lean on. There are others who appear to have it all, yet they still have issues and appear unhappy. We have to pray for the courage and strength to truly forgive. It is out of true forgiveness that we actually strengthen ourselves to sincerely move forward without trying to hurt those we feel have wronged us; or hurt other innocent people along our way who don't have a clue what we've been through.
I'm reiterating what Shakespeare says: "To Thine own self be true." It is my hope that you will be open to receive it. This much you owe to yourself.