When I was growing up my family gave me several nicknames, one of them was Queen. I can’t remember who did it first or exactly why but that’s what they’ve called me for years. What I do remember is initially feeling proud but also a bit bashful about the whole thing. What was so special about me that anyone would see me as regal?
As a child, and even into adulthood, I struggled with being confident in myself. During this time, being called Queen would make me cringe. I felt so much less than that and hearing Queen all the time just reminded me of how imperfect I was.
A few years ago, I had a few life-changing experiences that forced me to take a hard, deep look at myself. I started journaling again. In one passage, written after a particularly difficult week, I wrote about how I felt like a woman who was sleeping in a house that was not her own…wearing clothes she did not buy and living with things she didn’t want.
I literally felt like a bewildered visitor who’d been beamed to another dimension against their will. Shout out to Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. In less dramatic terms, I came to a point where I was dissatisfied with life and the things I’d come to accept as normal no longer served me. I needed a new path.
This new path led to a renewed sense of self. I am more comfortable in my skin and each day, I grow more accepting and appreciative of the woman I’ve become.
Last month, poet/writer/artist extraordinaire Januarie York reached out to me with an opportunity to be photographed alongside several phenomenal women in a photo spread titled Black Girl Magic Crown. (GO CHECK IT OUT AND TELL A FRIEND!) We all gathered together on a windy, cold Saturday afternoon and defied the elements as we donned flower crowns and posed in all our #BlackGirlMagic glory. Many of the women I knew personally and some I had only met that day. Nonetheless, we all bonded pretty much instantly and produced one of the most magical moments I’ve ever experienced. To say that, that afternoon was beautiful would be an understatement.
When the photo spread and accompanying blog was posted to Januarie’s website, I looked through it several times in awe. Here I am, this awkward girl, smiling and rejoicing with not an ounce of care cast across my face. It took a very long time to get to this place, but I am so happy to be here.
Too often, women find themselves overly concerned with what they’re lacking that we forget to celebrate and honor what we have. At least that was the case in my situation. For years I focused on what I hated about Ebony – the things others criticized and the things I wished I could change. My mouth, my teeth, my skin, etc. etc. I consistently saw more wrong than I did right.
A wise person (or maybe a meme I saw online LOL) once said this: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
Learning to love myself has changed the way I view the world and the way I approach life. Learning to love myself has changed me.