Freshman year in high school, I had a deep love for debating just about anything I was coherent in. Sometimes the teachers appreciated this and often they did not. At that age, those voices did little to deter my gumption. However, moving into my adult professional life, I found the voices of criticism and judgment got louder and more consistent. I talked too much or I had too many opinions. I spent at least a decade trying to become someone I wasn’t just to please everyone around me. Knowing the people reading this, I can bet you can recall exact moments when you’ve been asked, told, or demanded that you change “who you are”.
We become conditioned to…
Put on lipstick and smile.
That last one is not a shot at putting your face on! I love makeup and there will never be a post on my feed without it. No apologies ladies!
I’ve been thinking lately about the labels we give ourselves and others. The ones we’ve grown up with are sometimes the same ones we are awarded as adults. Labels typically refer to words or phrases used to describe or identify something or someone. These can be positive or negative descriptors, and they are often associated with stereotypes or judgments. “Labels” refer to the words or traits used to describe someone, such as…
“That woman is too intense.”
“Wow, she’s too shy (or too assertive).”
“That girl is being too difficult.”
“She must be insecure…she’s wearing makeup when she works out!”
Whatever the statement we’ve heard over and over, it begins to sink in…deeply. We become conditioned to stuffing down those parts of ourselves that we’ve experienced shame for. They may be personality traits, strengths or weaknesses, or even physical attributes. We bury the parts of us that aren’t as glamorous or make people feel discomfort. This is not a conversation about growing and working on our stuff. We all need to be moving towards the healthiest version of ourselves on an intentional basis. I’m red flagging the judgments we place on ourselves and others without giving it a second thought. The words that consume our internal dialogue or the verdicts we place on those around us.
What if instead, we choose to be curious, listen, and release the instinct to judge?
“That woman is too intense”
“That woman is assertive! Good for her stepping up to the plate!”
“Wow, she’s too shy (or too opinionated)”
“I am betting that her quiet demeanor might mean she is a really great listener and chooses to speak last.”
“She is being too difficult!”
“What might be seen as stubborn, might mean she has been through this before and knows when to hold her ground.”
“She must be insecure because she’s all done up to work out!”
“You go momma getting up an extra 10 minutes earlier to put your face on!”
What if we lean into accepting and championing one another as sisters, fellow women entrepreneurs (or guy entrepreneurs) battling the highs and lows of life in the best way possible? What if we swapped labels out for the belief that this world needs me and it needs you? What if we lean into the conviction that by suppressing “who we are” we truly rob the world of the brightness it so desperately craves?
Step into your true self. The one before all the childhood filters began. No apologies, no shame, no hiding. The world, your community, and your family need your voice more than you know.