Pulling YourSELVES Together

by P. Braithwaite

It’s hard to put into words all that you are. It’s hard to push the disparate parts of oneself into a collection of adjectives that accurately capture that indefinable quality that makes each of us special.

When I was in college, I took my first African American Studies class and discovered the AAS library. Thus in a haze of snow, great fiction, and horrific historical fact, I became an angry Black person. I, who’d grown up in suburbia and knew more white folks than black folks, became angry and distrustful of society at large. I was pissed off and I didn’t know who to blame. It certainly didn’t help that I was perpetually cold (hey ‘cuse).

At that point, I could only do one of two things: I could forget what I knew OR throw myself into this new role of angry black woman.

I tried the latter and, even at 18 years old, I knew it didn’t suit me. So I had to learn how to reconcile these two conflicting identities: the trusting suburbanite and the scholar who understood the atrocities of slavery and the African diaspora. This person who understands that societies are capable of immense love and horrific hate…unlocked a compassion that helps me connect with the entire world.

This task of self-reconciliation, however, happens at every point of our lives. One learns and stretches and acquires new knowledge. One gets her heart broken, gets a new job or finds herself in a new place, but this new event is not ALL that she is. She must learn to reconcile the new self with the old self…always reaching to be more complete than she was before.

New experiences and challenges add to the mosaic of our souls.

I’m now a business owner. I’m now someone who is actively building a brand and a foundation for my future. I’m reading books about money and business and branding, and it’s forcing me to reassess my values. Who am I? What do I truly value? How do my decisions communicate these values? All of these ideas, solutions and questions are uncomfortable. Is my business-self different from the person in the mirror? I am learning to balance those aspirations for success with my desire to be loving, my affinity for relaxation, my true nature of generosity, laughter, and deliberate action.

I’m learning to make this new role “my own.” And that, I believe, is our real task…

We often think that to succeed we have to completely transform. We have to change and fit into the preexisting paradigm, but the truth is we must learn to take what we’re learning and make it fit OUR individual paradigm. We are not meant to change the world by becoming carbon copies of our mentors. We’re ment to set the world ablaze with our individual fingerprint.

There is no one in the world who can do what you do…the way you do it. Remember that as you become who you are meant to be.

Today, I acknowledge my ability to learn new things without sacrificing or compromising the best parts of myself. I honor all that I am and all that I am becoming.

And so it is.

What are you learning and changing in your life? What are some things that you’ll maintain?

20130430-090001.jpg photo credit: http://insidethemasquerade.blogspot.com/