It's time to be brave.
Market yourself. Tell people what you really do.
Share what you believe.
And be ok if they don't agree.
This has been a common theme for me, really my whole life. Maybe you can relate...
Most of my life, I've felt like a weirdo.
As a child, attempting to perform emergency operations of half-dead birds found on the side of the road to meandering around Dogwood Lane with a trash bag 3x my size, picking up the garbage people threw on the street.
People told me I cared too much.
To let it be. God, if I heard the phrase let it be one more damn time I think I would've screamed!
Sometimes we can't just let it be and yet, our fear to shake things up keeps us locked up in these self-imposed prisons of sorts.
I used to cry at my desk wondering what happened and why my friends suddenly hated me.
Or why teachers blacklisted me so I wouldn't make the National Honor Society as a result of basketball politics.
I hoped that my high-school sweetheart wouldn't hear the rumors or see the dirty looks in the hallways and dump me.
More than anything, I wished that people would just leave me alone.
Because it's one thing to be seen as weird and yet another to be the weirdo with an opinion.
When senior year rolled around, I had a choice to make.
To play basketball or to be in the school musical.
Junior year had been the hardest year yet. My varsity basketball coach, Mr. Collins, made it his job to use me as example, my friends had stopped returning my calls or speaking to me and till this day, I often wonder how it was that I didn't run away.
And now, Mr. Collins and the JV coach (Mr. Lewis) were fighting for the position of varsity coach.
The school was divided.
The record and the sentiments of the players could show who was the more qualified coach, and yet old-school politics ran rampant, making this a very heated debate.
In the midst of my own Mean Girls saga, it was time to speak at a public school hearing about who we favored. As a player, I had the choice to share my sentiments, in whatever fashion I chose.
As I walked into the school cafeteria, I saw the faces of all the girls who hated me.
Some who had been like a sister to me.
Parents who had brought their daughters over to my house for sleep overs, who we went on family trips with and who I knew some of their darkest secrets, now looked at me as if I were a foolish lamb in a den of lions. They loathed me and you could feel their absolute disgust as I entered the room.
I could have spoken about a great many topics to further discredit the varsity coach.
I could have spoken about the depression I faced as a result of his public belittling and his blatant discrimination.
I could have exposed the conduct of my teammates, many who had been in my limo to Junior Prom.
But on that day, what I chose to highlight, was my overwhelming satisfaction with Mr. Lewis, a man who cared more about the game than he did politics and who had a history of winning.
I gave poetic justice to Mr. Lewis that night. I felt pride for having been brave enough at 17 years of age to have more courage and couth than half the adults in that room.
That night, the room boiled over with contempt at my words.
Hating that I had the right to speak or that I'd even have the audacity to do so!
Amazement and dismay at the fact that they still hadn't silenced me.
With a room quiet enough to hear a pin drop, a school board member interrupted the silence. "Your speech, young lady, at the very least, is a testament to the fine job we're doing in our English department. You should do this for a living!"
Neither one of the coaches ended up with the job that year and in time, I would go back to make amends with Mr. Collins.
I realize now, in hindsight, that I was being tested. Not by my coaches, peers or ex-friends, but by God, the universe, my inner power.
Ten years later, those lessons are clearer to me now than ever before.
My gifts, my purpose, part of what would be my legacy, was being tested.
To be the person I wanted to be today, I needed my integrity to be measure up. It was necessary to see if I could stand the heat of the kitchen.
And years later, in college, I would be tested again.
We need to have the bravery to speak up.
Even when we feel there is a room full of people who would rather see us dead (and I hope for your sake that isn't the case, maybe just some people you're hoping to sell your product to), you need to believe in yourself.
You need to believe in yourself!
That means you tell the world what you do.
You tell them why you're great.
And you offer fourth your best recommendations on how they can have a better life and existence.
People become so entrenched in their beliefs and the side of the line they stand on, that they forget what they truly stand for. Gay or not gay, Catholic or Muslim, they go down the rabbit hole playing chicken with their comrades taking shot at the opposing side, wondering who's going to back out first.
Their allegiance is more to the fear of being alone than to the idea they originally stood for. And good luck asking them to recalls what that was exactly!
It means you're perfecting your craft.
It means people are listening!
You know how to market yourself. I don't really need to tell you that here. Sure, I can give you tips on how to be smarter about it (and I do that often enough like in this free four part series on how to get your first client), but the biggest and best strategy lays within you.
And you know that.
So be brave enough to listen to your gut.
To promote your work.
Share what you believe.
And be ok if they don't agree.
In the end, it all evens out anyways.
I've put it out there and now I'm wondering, what's a moment you stood up for someone or something you believed in? How did it work out for you?
Share your story in the comments below.