It takes some cojones to be true to yourSelf (written how my mentor/friend would write it).
I mean really, how often do you encounter people around you expecting you to change for their benefit? For their comfort? For their image and idea of who they believe YOU to be? Or want you to be?
Especially, when you’re a woman.
You need to be thin. You need to be pretty. You need to be smart – but not too smart. You need speak up, but don’t get bossy. You strive to be equal, but never really are seen that way.
Finding your self-worth, your self-value and embracing it, owning it, living it goes against everything and everyone that surrounds you most of the time. No wonder people call me a force of nature – a hurricane – because I must to be to be seen and heard.
Women have, for the most part, grown to be cautious of how they present themselves to outside forces not realizing they are a force themselves. It’s within them.
I’ve been learning a lot from my friend and mentor through her SHINE Challenge. And, wow, has she tapped something within me and lit it on fire! Teaching me ways to find my unique brilliance and talents and presenting them to the world unapologetically. I’m learning ways to communicate with more authenticity and not afraid to do so.
She’s brilliant! Trust me you should take a look at her work!
In being authentic and unapologetic, I have surrounded myself with other strong women in the last couple of months. Other forces of nature that are helping me to continue to realize my potential and that of my daughter. Because of them, I know we are not alone in being true to ourselves, for they are great examples of being their true-selves too. Brave, creative, fiery, feisty, brilliant women making their mark in the St. Louis theatre scene with gusto. Women of color. Women of integrity. Women of vision. Women I am proud to now call my friends.
They inspire me. They challenge me. They allow me to be my true self around them.
Most importantly, they inspire and challenge my daughter to be her true self as well. That is a gift beyond measure.
One woman, in particular, knew she needed to bring a story to life – a story of diversity, of family and home. She had the audacity, the tenacity, the authenticity to bring this story to life in St. Louis. And, while the story centered around a young brown man in a barrio in New York, it was an old brown woman that was at the heart of their community. An old woman where, although life dictated her path in difficult times, never shied away from who she truly was: loving, nurturing, kind, compassionate. A caretaker. A grandmother. An Abuela. Authentic.
Another is bringing a story to St. Louis of a young Mexican-American girl who finds her bravery, determination, and strength behind a mask as she embraces and learns about her family’s heritage – thus discovering her own authenticity.
But no matter which strong woman – my mentor/friend, my new friends, Abuela Claudia, a young Mexican-American girl, my daughter or me – we are each always continuing to break barriers to be authentic and strong. It isn’t easy work. But we carry on because we must.
Because we are driven.
We are real.
We are women of substance.
We are a force of nature.
We are authentic.
We are women.
And it isn’t for the faint of heart.