I’ve always been the confident person my parents raised me to be; but there have been things that I hadn’t been honest with myself about and was too afraid to address. For years, I discovered, I’d simply been ‘living’ and NOT living. I was dying a slow death.
Since graduating from college, I’ve gone by Danielle professionally, my middle name, because Ebony was too ‘ethnic’ and a sure fire way of being profiled and not landing a job in my field. For years, I attempted to trick others by adopting my middle name, speaking in a monotone voice that lacked assertiveness, and accepting the ignorance of others; in order to combat the stereotypes of a Black woman. Yet and still my efforts were in vain. I still was labeled as intimidating, opinionated, angry, etc. You know the typical adjectives used to describe the successful, educated, and poised Black woman. My superiors uttered these words, both indirectly and directly, to the point where I’d began to believe them. My whispering hadn’t helped, my going along with their decisions had entrapped me, and my spirit was broken. I had no clue who I was anymore. The confident, educated woman who once stood so sure of herself was lost, afraid, imprisoned, and alone. I had worried my family enough, well in the times I had been brave enough to voice my feelings. I’m certain my significant other was exhausted by my “pillow talk” of constant I hate my job. It had put a strain on our relationship and I loved him more than that. I wanted Ebony back more than anything, but had no clue how to get there.
So what did I do? I happened upon a magnet on my best friends refrigerator while visiting her in NY. The magnet was of a mutual friend of ours who’s mom had a life coaching business. With trembling hands and tears streaming, I contacted her. She was a gentle spirit who made me feel safe in speaking my truth, without judgment and being offended by my true feelings. I no longer had to filter my inner thought of past failures or my current state of disappointment. During our 1st session she had me do the unthinkable, look in a mirror and tell her what I saw. I had avoided mirrors in this fashion since my maternal Grandmother passed. It hurt too bad to look in the mirror this way. Of course, I could put my makeup on and glam it up for a night out on the town, but she wanted me to do this naked; without makeup and without pointed fingers. I was so damn broken that I realized in that moment that even with a bare face, the makeup was still on. I’d learned to ‘cope’ and mask what I truly felt.
After we finished this exercise, she then asked what have you done for Ebony? After taking a moment and breathing deeply, I burst into tears because I realized that not much had been done for me. I’d accomplished everything everyone else wanted or needed me to do. I’d shifted focus from motivating my family to pursue education to now living for my daughter and everything I did being all about her. I had now lost myself in Motherhood. I didn’t know how to play any other role besides Mommy. Yes, parenting is selfless but it doesn’t mean your aspirations disappear. To this day I would go to the end of the Earth for my baby girl, but I’ve also learned to do the same stretching for Ebony too.
I’d allowed fear to paralyze me for far to long and it was high time this single mom began to lead by example. So I started writing down my heart’s desires, affirming them out loud, spending more time with God, and muting the people in my life who’s own fears had cheated them of their dreams. I recognized that I couldn’t allow their fears to be imposed on my dreams, family and all. I knew what I had to do and I thank God for sending me an angel right here on earth, in my life coach. She helped me clarify the things that once kept me bound.
I had to eliminate ‘talking’ about pursuing my dreams and begin to implement them. I picked up a pen more, to work on my book; I began to read more and research other bloggers; I took free, and some paid, blogging workshops; and I garnered the support of my Beau to take a self publishing class. He paid for it 100%, financially and emotionally. He was so gracious with sharing my time with him and my dreams. I didn’t have any extra money to spare. He had witnessed the peace that had come over me when writing and the escape from it all that writing provided. When writing, I forgot about the personal attacks on my character that my superiors conducted on a daily basis; they’d tried to assassinate my being. I wanted my freedom to dream and genuinely smile again.
I’d happened on what would be my most outwardly leap of faith- to date, while exploring social media. Procter & Gamble’s, My Black Is Beautiful, was doing their first-ever Ambassador search. The application phase was one day only (April 11, 2014) and it was the longest 24 hours of my life. I doubted so many times if I should even hit submit because I knew where I was mentally couldn’t handle further disappointment and setbacks. The devil kicked and screamed while I prayed. He attempted to drown out the still voice of God. He even threw a final hail Mary just as I hit submit. I heard, “you’re not good enough, they’re not going to pick you, who do you think you are, it’s nationwide, and this one will really kill you just save yourself the grief! ” In the midst of the Devils attack, God whispered, “you’re not alone and all I need you to do is have faith. I got the rest!” Those words, sent to my heart, were all I needed to go forth.
It was my final step in laying Danielle to rest. The eulogy had been spoken for years, but I’d sat in the church silent and weeping; never recognizing God was setting me free to be. Without the heartache, I wouldn’t have had enough pressure to conquer my fears. You know what else has pressure and turns out to be beautiful because of it? Diamonds. My arrival was a process that I needed in order to become beautiful and appreciate God’s grace. It was time for Ebony to evolve and what better way to do it than to believe in my journey and purpose! I felt such peace and was sure of a bright future ahead. It was time that I encouraged others to believe, after all that’s what I was here for. Through the turmoil, I’d discovered my purpose.
Have you been honest about your inner most feelings? What steps will you take today to better your tomorrow? Make a list of 5 things you can do NOW to be your best YOU!