My testimony about how I set myelf free myself
What does it mean to set yourself free from yourself? Does it mean stop being a prisoner in your own mind? Does it mean stop being a prisoner in your own reality? Does it mean stop trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations from society and others? How about, does it simply mean letting go of what your heart and mind wanted it to be versus what it turned out to be? The truth is, it means all of these things. To set yourself free from yourself means to break the barriers that are holding you captive from being what you were born to be. It means to accept what was, what is, and what will be. Still not following me? That’s okay…I’ll just share my story with you. I am going to tell you how I set myself free from myself, and you take whatever it is you need to take from this story.
At a young age, I was diagnosed with a learning disability, and as a result, I was placed in IEP ( Individualized Educational Program). For years during my educational experience, I needed the extra help and support from teachers in all of my academics. My family and I were told that my condition would not improve and that I wasn’t even expected to make it past high school, and that I would not even be able to attend college. I would, therefore, be an IEP student the rest of school experience. When I was in the eighth grade, I was removed from IEP. I went into high school that following semester, freshman year, not an IEP student. I still needed some of the extra help in some classes, but for the most part, I was able to perform my academics independently. I only sought the help when I felt I really needed it. The day I was removed from IEP was the day I knew I could do anything, and I do mean anything I put my mind to do. That was also the day I subconsciously put all pressure on myself of trying to prove myself and others wrong by creating this unrealistic better version of myself.
After high school, I went on to pursue my Bachelor’s from Albright College. I went into my freshman year as a Pre-Med student. My advisors started me in 200 level Biology courses because my grades in science from high school were that great. However, I really wasn’t prepared for these 200 level courses and the demands of the classwork. I was determined though to NOT fail. I was determined to NOT let anyone see me fall apart or fail these courses. Well…I failed miserably. I mean I got a big fat F. Looking back, that should have been the moment a light bulb should have gone off in my head, and I should have told myself that I do not have to put this much pressure on myself just prove something to someone.
Long story short, I didn’t go back to science. Instead, I changed my major to Communications and Journalism, and I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communications in the Spring of 2015. It was my most proud moment! Flash forward a year and a half from then. I enrolled in my Master’s program in the Spring semester of 2017 with National University. You’re wondering why I went back for my Master’s so soon right? To be honest, I was already determined from the day I went into my undergraduate program, I knew I was going to go forward and pursue a Master’s program. Why I went back so soon? I had come to the conclusion of what I wanted to do with my career, I just needed the right tools to advance it. Although it was a challenging and long ride, it was worth it. I received my Master of Arts in Strategic Communications in November of 2017.
Yeah I know, quite the ambitious one right? I have to tell you, while that may sound admirable to some, it honestly got me in trouble a lot. Now that I have these two degrees, there is no way I can settle for anything less, right? I have to challenge myself more now. I have to be more determined about my career now. I have to be on top of it all the time. I cannot fail. I have to be perfect. I have to strive for perfection. I have to…have it all. This is what I subconsciously told myself every single day, since being removed from IEP. Not only that, I reinforced it when I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s and I continued to tell myself this because I actually started to believe that I can have it all, that I need to have it all, that I am supposed to have it all. Well, I soon later learned, that this would be an old and untrue story that will eventually need to rewrite myself.
I spent nearly a year and a half pretending to be okay with something I was not okay with, which was being this advanced career driven woman and lately a strong military wife who is supposed to keep her emotions in check all the time. Having two degrees and working mid to high-level jobs put a lot of unnecessary pressure on me. Not only that, it set the expectations of my husband very high. Even then I felt like I couldn’t let him down and that I needed to be this perfect wife and a high-level career woman at 25 years old. Since moving out to California since the Spring of 2017, I have been fired from three different jobs. All jobs in which were not the right work environment or work level for myself. My last job with the Marine Corp as Deployment Readiness Coordinator was the last straw for me. Being terminated from that job broke me in so many ways that I can even begin to tell how tiny the pieces were. It was in this moment, I have never felt so defeated, so embarrassed, so much of a failure, I literally just wanted to crawl in a hole and never be seen by anyone. I was ashamed of myself and believe it or not, even embarrassed to be a wife to my husband, and that is mostly because I know he wears that “my wife is educated and has two degrees” jacket all the time. Not that he goes around bragging about verbally, but he is a proud husband. I felt like I let the one person I love the most down and embarrassed him.
What kind of educated 25-year-old black woman with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree cannot keep a job worth a damn? How am I supposed to have it all, be perfect, and keep it all together if my educated black ass can’t even keep a damn job? This is literally what I would say to myself every day after I lost my job with the Corp. After being terminated a few days later I was back on the job hunt, but this time looking for a job was a lot harder than what it used to be. I was lost, confused, and unsure about what kind of job I was supposed to have. Every job that I looked at, I could not see myself “being perfect and having it all.” The way I saw it, I was not going to settle for a basic ass job. As much as it as I hate to say it that way, it was true. I have two degrees that I worked my ass off to get I shouldn’t be working a basic job. I should be working an advanced job that is going to pay me what I am worth. However, that was the mindset that got me in trouble from the beginning. Hence, how I ended up being jobless again and as result feeling worthless again.
Two weeks after being fired from the Corp, a close friend of mine invited me to a girls night out. Now, this wasn’t your typical girls night out. No no, it was not a night of getting cute, going out to the bar, wearing pink lipstick, drinking cocktails, and shaking your ass on the dance floor. Instead, it was a peaceful night. It was a night of self-reassurance and woman empowerment night. I participated in a small gathering known as a New Moon exercise, which consisted of about eight women between the ages of twenty and forty. In this exercise, we all learned how to break the barriers that were holding us all captive of being free from ourselves. A question was asked, “what old stories do you tell yourself, that are untrue and that need to be rewritten?” You know exactly where I am about to go with this. This question resonated so deeply with me, that I did not need to think twice about my answer.
“What old stories do you tell yourself, that are untrue, and that need to be rewritten?” As I shared my response, this is what I came up with:
“I keep telling myself that because of where I have come from, how far I have come, and because of where I am now as an educated black woman, that I need to be perfect and have it all. I keep telling myself I need to meet up to these expectations of others because of the amount of pressure that I have put on myself to be perfect. I keep telling myself that I need to have it all because of the number of lies I have told myself about the kind of woman I need and should be. I keep telling myself that I need to be this perfect wife because at the time my husband met me, I was this woman who appeared to have had my shit together, when in reality I did not. I keep telling myself that I cannot fall apart and that I need to always remain wholesome. Well, I am tired of living that story. I am tired of trying to be something I am not. I am tired of trying to have it all. I am tired of trying to be perfect. I am tired of all this pressure that I continue to create for myself. Starting tonight, I am breaking this barrier. I am freeing myself from it all because I just cannot do it anymore.”
After I finished my statement, I took a deep inhale and loud exhale, and as I exhaled, I could feel those barriers breaking down. I could feel myself setting myself free. As I sit here and type this, I am crying from tears of happiness and joy. I have never experienced the feeling of my body being as light as a feather until then, and let me tell you, it the greatest feeling that anyone can ever experience. I set myself free from my own unrealistic made up world that I had been living in for almost sixteen years. I’m not meant to be this woman that has it all. I am not meant to be perfect in everything that I do. I was not put on this earth to spend all my life proving to society that I am worth it. I was put on this earth to be exactly where God guides me to be, and while following His lead, living in the moment by accepting what is and not stressing what will be.
I used to tell myself what and who I wanted to be. Now I tell myself to just be. So if you find yourself trapped, buried, closed in, and kept prisoner of your own mind…ask yourself two things; one, are you tired of being there yet? Two, what old stories do you tell yourself that are untrue and that need to be rewritten? Remember, when you find your answer, and you finally set yourself free from yourself, allow yourself to live in the moment, and allow yourself to just be.