Christian/Woman/African-American/Advocate/Student/Reflective/Work in Progress

I recognized my power my senior year of college.  I was in one of the darkest places of my life.  For some reason, despite all of the blessings surrounding me, I was unhappy.  To be frank, I was miserable.  I didn’t know where I was going in life or what my next steps were.  My self-esteem was low, my confidence was non-existent, and I was beginning to feel an insecurity that was isolating me from my friends and family.  Dealing with all this in combination with starting true adulthood became overwhelming.

That summer, I gained enough courage to share my thoughts of self-hate with a mentor and it was life changing.  My mentor challenged me to focus on all the things about me that were unique.  She told me repeatedly that there is no one else on this planet with a life like mine and I have the power to create anything that I would like.  She taught me to take responsibility for my current state of mind.  Through this I learned to appreciate all of my flaws and began to welcome the challenges of life.  I took an oath that I would no longer feel sorry for myself and no longer be ashamed of the way my life was turning.  For 365 days, I focused on living a purpose-driven life.  I prayed, I read, I engaged in fellowship, I cried… I went through the process of finding my purpose here on Earth.

Today, I am in a much better place.  I am no longer afraid to live but more importantly I am no longer afraid to fail.  I have learned to channel my doubts and fear into a certain energy that motivates and encourages me.  I push myself to take that “next step” and if I fail then I reflect.  I try to pull a lesson out of every experience and then I keep it pushing.  I know now that life is too short to live in fear and I feel the pressure (now more than ever) to LIVE and succeed.   The saying, “the only thing standing in your way is you” was definitely true in my life.  I figured if I could remove one obstacle (ME) out of my way then I would be way more likely to succeed.

 I am one of those people that is constantly developing, fine-tuning and crossing off my goals as I accomplish them.  For me, personal growth is measured by the ability of something to become habit.  So even though I am in a much better place, the habit I need to still develop is the need to work on forgiving myself.  I need to let go of the past and move forward.  Rather than focusing on the forgiveness or approval of others, I really need to get a point where MY forgiveness is enough.

When reflecting upon my journey and those that I love, I’ve come to realize that people of color are some of the strongest people I know.  The obstacles that we go through on a daily basis serve one function, and that is ‘strength’.  In a world where we are constantly surrounded by hate, we must be the ones to love ourselves unconditionally and unapologetically.  We cannot give in and we cannot give up.   We must love ourselves.

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