“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
― Albert Einstein
photo cred: Steve Madden
In my early life I felt I had it all. I was the prettiest, the skinniest, the smartest, surrounded by favor and grace. I lived it, breathed it & firmly believed it. It seemed like I was naturally excellent at a lot of things and it appeared that everything I touched turned to gold. I modeled, I acted, I sang, I excelled academically and aside from not feeling like the most popular well liked girl at school, everywhere outside of that I was unreachable. I always lived on another level, even if that world lived only in my head. I really believed I would never fail at anything I tried at. I was confident and self assured. But then life happened. Bit by bit, bruise by bruise, and wreckage after wreckage chipped away at my belief in my value. Suddenly I didn’t feel so pretty. It’s funny how life has a way of beating us down into believing a lot of things about us that just aren’t true. I’ve had a crazy life and I look forward to writing more transparently as we continue on this journey. But for today I want to talk about value, identity, and success.
I work in a cut throat industry. It’s not just an industry but truly a well oiled machine– an environment where conformist succeed. But that’s just one part of it. It’s also a jungle. It’s a jungle with ladders, hidden doorways, and where certain rules gain access to the next level, while other patters of behavior can lead you to utter ruin. This beast I am referring to is corporate america. I live in this environment 40 hours per week and sometimes I thrive at the thrill of triumph while other days I feel utterly chewed up and spit out only to be found on the bottom of someone else’s shoes.
Let me tell you, I have never fit in. Never. Not in my entire life. I have always been a bird of a different feather, a horse of a different color, and a woman dancing to the beat of a different drummer. I don’t know how I succeed so well because honestly most of the time I find myself spilling out of the box I’m supposed to fit so neatly into. I’ve grown up being beaten into shape and form in this industry and honestly it’s made me a strong and resilient person. It hasn’t been easy let me tell you.
Somewhere a while ago, I decided I wanted to be well known. I wanted to be an unmistakable voice in this world. I didn’t want to be behind the scenes and I didn’t want to be waiting on an elevator waiting for my stop forever. I have always had a personality for the spotlight, but in a lot of ways I have wanted these things for the wrong reason. I wanted to be loved and accepted. You see, I often found my value in how well liked I have been, how successful I have been at my job, the recognition that I receive and the affirmation of my superiors. But a lot of times in my messy process, I have often found myself shrinking under pressure and devaluing myself based on my mistakes. How many of you have been there?
We all want to be successful. We all want to be heard. Who wants to live and not be appreciated or valued? None of us would agree with that, we are all here to find our purpose and find love, meaning & JOY in our lives.
But this idea kind of came to my head today as I got back to my hotel (I’m on my first business trip)
Today at work I did something kind of gutsy. I spoke up and spoke out and challenged the ideas of some very powerful people. It was a little rogue, but it was impactful and my team shared with me how proud of me they were for speaking up and backing up one of my team members. I realized in that moment I could have caused people to have a different view on me– as I was taking a powerful risk in challenging someone in authority (respectfully) I believed and owned what I said in that meeting and I’m proud of my audacity. I don’t know what came over me honestly, but I cared that my team member was understood and I realized in that moment I had a chance to be a voice to those who might not have been bold enough to speak up for themselves.
After the meeting and hearing my team members encourage me, I realized that so many times I have held back or judged myself for falling outside of the lines of what is acceptable in the corporate jungle. I’ve often felt like I will always be just the little guy, even though I have dreams that are larger than the very life I live. I’ve often felt like when is my moment? When will someone take notice of my talent and set me on a course to soar? I often struggle going between staying in the lines and carving my own path–but can I tell you? Robert Frost was onto something when he said he took the road less traveled and it made all the difference.
I’m slowly learning to walk on my own–to stand tall on my own two feet.
Sometimes I look at other people who succeed like crazy and I wonder why was I left behind. But I think I am coming to realize that it’s those who carve out their own paths, stay truest to their true self, and fulfill the call on their life–BEING the person that God created and DESIGNED them to be– that succeed.
We lose out, we short ourselves when we sacrifice our authenticity. We were created to be a one of kind original work of living art. What happens when we suffocate that self? Parts of our heart and soul die of spiritual atrophy because we can no longer freely be who we were always meant to be.
As for me, I will keep learning to stand tall. I will keep going against the grain, yet not kick against the goads. I will learn to love myself and love others despite how excruciating or difficult that may be. I will find what makes my heart and soul come alive and live it out. And as I do so authentically, at the proper time, I will be that voice that is heard.
I have so much more to say on this, but for now, I will leave you with this….
When you be your truest self, you are filled with such purpose and you are valuable–because who you are is what everyone in this world needs, they just haven’t all met you yet. This world would be completely different without you in it. Find who you are, love yourself, and BE that YOU.
You are LOVED and ADORED