Today is the official start of my birthday month I thought I would start this very special month by sharing with you a little more of my story and the motivation behind why I do what I do. This post is longer than normal but I hope you will read through to the end.
I am a first-generation American, born to Jamaican parents. I have very few memories of my parents being together as they split up when I was fairly young. My mom raised my sister and me in NYC, the place I consider home.
As a single parent, my mom did what was necessary, including at one point working two jobs, to keep us clothed, fed, and sheltered. I learned what it means to have a strong work ethic from my mom.
Not once did she tell me that my race, my gender, or our socioeconomic status was a potential barrier to my success. We were poor and I was a black girl but none of those were excuses for me not doing my best. My mom taught me that ultimately I was the only thing standing in my way.
Being Less Than
It was not until I got involved in a fundamentalist-type church in my pre-teen years did I receive the message that I was less than.
In this church patriarchy ruled and being a girl meant I had no voice and was somehow less worthy because of it. The men knew what was best and as long as I followed their rules I would fit in and belong.
Three things were working against me at this point in my life:
- I’m a first-born and a rule follower by nature.
- I was a nerd and a bit of an awkward girl who always felt just a little bit like an outsider everywhere I went so I was desperate for a place where I fit in.
- And growing up without my dad’s consistent presence in my life (we only saw him during the summer) left a huge father-wound in my soul. A wound that created in me a deep need to be told I was enough by a male figurehead.
With these three things at work in me, I swallowed hook, line and sinker everything I was taught. My desperate need to feel like I belonged AND that I was enough caused me to overlook the harmful messaging I was receiving.
I would stay in that environment all through college and graduate school. Along the way, I picked up a few more unhealthy patterns including a stint through disordered eating, emotionally manipulative relationships, and seriously contemplating suicide after a bad breakup. To say I was a hot mess would not be an understatement.
My Dark Night
I intentionally don’t talk a lot about my spirituality because while my faith anchors and informs everything about me, I don’t feel the need to scream about it from the rooftop. I just assume live it out in my everyday life.
However, to fully appreciate how I got where I am today I’ll need to share a little bit more about my faith journey.
After my time in the fundamentalist church, which taught me to follow the rules so God wouldn’t punish me, I moved on to the charismatic and evangelical churches, which taught me to follow the rules so God would bless me.
Here again, my rule follower nature kicked in and I played along with their rules too. But following their rules meant ignoring any nagging doubts that would come up from time to time. I silenced my intuition at times for the sake of, once again, fitting in.
That worked until the day it stopped working and I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by a profound sense that it was all BS.
I doubted everything I had ever believed including the existence of God and I entered, what I refer to as, my dark night of the soul. While most people around me had no idea, internally I pretty much stopped believing all of it.
The darkness lasted for several months and when I emerged, I came out needing things in my life to look very different than they did before that dark time.
I had been working with a therapist but I deepened that work even further.
As I did that inner work and looked back over my story I saw how much I had allowed my voice to be silenced for the sake of fitting someone else’s narrative about my life.
I saw that believing I was not enough caused me to repeatedly numb my inner wisdom thinking others knew better than me. But with the support of mentors, therapists, and coaches (it takes a village ), I learned to reclaim my power and transform the story I was living into.
My spiritual journey has also taken me down a path I never could have imagined but one that has enriched me more than I ever dreamed possible (I’ll share more about that another time).
In the end, all of it has shaped the work I do today. As I stopped living someone else’s version of my life, I discovered the greatness that was always inside me but I couldn’t see because of the lies I believed.
I found my voice to name and speak my truth, which now gives me the perspective to support those I serve to find their voice too.
I learned first hand the profound change that is possible when you shift your mindset and this mindset shift is at the core of the work I do today.
I want you to know you matter, to believe you ARE enough, and to embrace the power you have to transform your life.
There is greatness in you and I am committed to supporting you in rising into that greatness. Having taken the journey myself, I know what’s waiting for you on the other side.
From my heart to yours,
Thanks for hanging in with me for this much longer than usual post. If that feeling, from my story, of being “less than” and believing you are not enough resonates with you and you’re ready to get out from underneath the crushing weight of it then let’s chat. Click here to discuss how you can begin to move past the fear and doubt to feel more empowered and confident.