Working in Progress: Improving While Embracing Self

When is the last time you took a moment to embrace all that is authentically YOU? When is the last time you took inventory of all that you are and, instead of making lists of things to improve, simply acknowledged yourself as you are? Maybe it was the day you decided to embrace that thigh gap or that gap between your teeth (raising my hand to both). Or perhaps it was the moment you realized your slow southern drawl wasn't going anywhere no matter how often you tried to polish your dialect (raises hand once again). Sometimes we get so caught up in improving ourselves that we forget to fully embrace the essence of our beings and our presence. In these times we have to get naked for a moment to rediscover ourselves and fall in love again. You know, fall in love with the self we are before the world starts convincing us we may need to alter and modify things.

Don't believe the world around us is telling us what we should be? Girl, just turn on the television. Listen to the radio. Scour your social media accounts for "popular opinions." Or even read this month's edition of your favorite magazine. And then take a look around you again.

In the most recent cycle of magazines placed neatly strewn across my kitchen bar, there are several articles full of details on improving wardrobe choices, sleeping habits, relationships, and the most common topic, outer appearance. And while nothing is wrong with sharing these topics (because you all know that lipstick and skincare are bae around here)-- at times it can become a bit overwhelming. It's becoming less and less often we find articles telling us that we are amazing as we are. When is the last time something you read told you that you can still inspire, encourage, and share your love with others, whether you have mastered each chapter in the latest self-help book you read or not?

One thing that constantly encourages and inspires me is my children. No matter what other kids their age are doing, my oldest two still continue to be who they are and I admire that. They wear whatever style of clothing they want (within budget, but nonetheless), listen to whatever genre of music fancies them (which is most often opposite of what their father and I listen to), and subscribe to nobody's idea of "normal."God gave them attributes as He saw fit and I believe he will use them as He sees fit. Knowing this makes me grateful, but also makes me look back at my own childhood.

As a child, you could always find me in the middle of a book. I was a bit of a nerd who hid her glasses more times than her parents could count, and would rather be at home with her siblings putting on fake concerts and pretending to be musicians than hang out with friends. But somewhere between adolescence and high school, I began to shave off my less admirable attributes to blend in with the crowd.

Years passed and I was a young mother of two before I started taking inventory of who I really was on the inside. I did some serious soul-searching: making lists of things I liked (or didn't), things that made me happy (or made me uncomfortable), and things I wanted to do in life (instead of things I thought others would be proud of me accomplishing). All of this was in an attempt to figure out who I was outside of my friendships, relationships or roles I played to others. And it was a worthwhile journey that I still find myself revisiting often today.

If you like are like me and get geeked wearing a bright shade of lipstick no matter the day nor hour, that's okay. And if you want to wear a full beat at work, at home, or even at Walmart, go ahead love! If you want to cosplay it up on the weekends and go to comic-con with your besties, do your thing, boo! If you like to express yourself through the eclectic accessories and styles you choose to wear, flaunt your style identity to the world. We are waiting for you! And please know that you don't have to be one-dimensional when it comes to your passions and interests. If you are unnerved with the social injustices you see around you, by all means raise your voice, spread awareness, and go out into the trenches! Do it in a bright red weave with a #MELANIN embossed t-shirt if you'd like. You don't have to apologize to anyone for being who you are. Never apologize for how you feel or what you are passionate about. And anyone who makes you feel inferior about your livelihood doesn't appreciate you nor do they deserve to be a part of your life and all the greatness that is you.

I say all of this to say that there's absolutely nothing wrong with striving to be the best person you can be. That's what our life's journeys are all about. Just make sure you take your genuine self on your journey with you and be unapologetic about it.

photography via jazmin quaynor
Back to Top