It takes courage to be yourself — Lionesses of Africa

by Kathy Mann

I’ve been thinking about how we become so conditioned by other people’s expectations of who we are and who we ought to be. I attended university in Cape Town and I had to wait a year because my father didn’t want me to leave home. I wonder what the cost of that year of earnings equates to, compounded over my career? Anyway, in my wisdom, it was worth the wait and I found a good career path, nice and respectable. I’m learning now that I have other talents that could be used to make a more fulfilling career path for me in future.

Friends ridiculed me for my hip-swinging dancing style from the city. I had to adjust to the more alternative, grungy dance moves in order to fit it. Although I do like a lot of the music, it wasn’t really me and I’ve never seen a convincing blonde Goth.

I’ve been wondering lately, with being a people-pleaser, how much of the real me has been lost along the way in order to fit in or gain approval. How often I bite my tongue for the sake of harmony and good manners. How often do I fail to speak up for my own needs and simply go along with what’s best for everyone else. When you do that, you never really end up doing what you want to do. And over time that can create a great deal of resentment, which is entirely your own fault. You can’t expect the world around you to read your mind and to know what you want. I’m guilty of this and I need to learn to speak my truth.

There are a lot of extroverts in my extended family. They have very strong opinions and they all shout each other down. Among them, I find myself just listening and making my own internal judgements. I’m afraid of retribution if I disagree and I’m afraid to be contradictory, which goes against my need for harmony. But this has stood in my way because they don’t really know me. If you had to ask them about what drives me and the things that I love doing, they would all struggle. But that’s not really their fault. Sure, it’s important to listen to those around you and to give people a chance to contribute to the conversation. But I should have fought for my own right to speak.

Speaking up for your beliefs, especially in the face of conflicting views, takes courage and strength. You must be prepared for people to judge you, to disagree with you and even to shun you. Some family members have been ex-communicated so possibility does exist. But I’ve learned through my struggles lately, that it does you more harm to keep your truth inside.

I have failed to speak up when people hurt me in the past. I’ve failed to fight for my rights to speak; to be treated fairly and to be loved and accepted for who I am. I think it’s a common problem for introverts and for people who like to keep the peace. But where are all those bottled up emotions and ideas going? Keeping it all inside is really not good for you. I’m exploring ways to express myself better, this blog being one of them.

For me, my health depends on me being able to be free to be me. It takes courage and strength, which are currently in short supply. But I’m taking small steps and hopefully in future, I’ll not be anyone’s doormat. Because the price I’ve paid already is too high.

I’m also conscious of not laying down expectations onto my kids. “Art is for hippies” or “you can’t make a living out of that”, will not be phrases that come from me as a parent. I want my children to follow their passions and the money will come. Loving what you do is far too important.

No-one becomes famous or achieves greatness from trying to fit in. it’s in celebrating your own uniqueness, that your true genius emerges. It’s imperative that we all learn to be comfortable with who we are and to speak our truth, no matter the consequences.

Source link

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *