Re-Learning Lessons: Being Open

Yesterday, I had an awesome convo with a new homie, Miss Georgette Dunn aka @Rdysetflow. After her rejuvenating "Yoga While You Work" webinar, we chatted on the phone and I laughed more than I usually do on a Monday! As I reflected on how I came to be lucky enough to connect with good people like Georgie, I realized what it was: I'm re-learning how to be open.

Let me take you back to my childhood.

For one reason or another, I was a very shy child. I went to an arts elementary school where I was able to express myself in various art forms, but any solo performance or art showcase was accompanied with serious butterflies in the tummy. High school was no better, maybe because I detested those 4 years in general (I fast-tracked my OAC year out of hatred for high school life). I kept to myself, had a small group of friends, and generally tried not to call too much attention to myself (which was difficult, seeing as how I was one of three Black girls in the entire school). Even though I now know that this is a common feeling amongst teens, I felt like I just did not fit in, and I suffered because I thought I was the only one that felt that way.

Fast forward to 1st year of university - where I first became open.

At the University of Western Ontario, I met like-minded people. I met other Black folk and people from other races and cultures that I had never met before in London. I joined student clubs. I modeled and danced in the Caribbean Student's Organization annual show (and did every year I was at Western). Most importantly, I began to speak up. I was inspired by all of these amazing minds from all over the world - and I learned that people were actually just as inspired by me. My self-esteem rose to a level where I couldn't hold it in anymore. I learned how to express my worth and value, and became so open that I attracted amazing friends, amazing opportunities, and created memories that I'll hold with me forever. My university years were truly golden.

What happened when I entered the Real World? Life changed. I moved away from home. Everyone's identity became tied to their job. Boyfriends were lost, close friendships came to startling ends, and I unknowingly became someone's "other woman" for the first time in my life (I'll tell y'all that story another time - it's a gem). The way I related to the world totally changed, and I did what I do best - I got my turtle-mode on and retreated back into my shell. My self-esteem dwindled away and trust was gone, so I kept to myself and felt like I was still just that awkward girl from my high school days.

So, what has brought about this personal renaissance of mine? I can't really pinpoint the actual catalyst or turning point, but I know I'm in the midst of it now. I started reinvesting in myself by indulging in two of my artistic loves: dancing and writing. I began working on restrengthening relationships with family and friends. I took those feelings of not fitting in and embraced my uniqueness. And now here I am, writing a public blog that other people can actually read (a big deal for me). Here I am, having strangers and friends email me to tell me how much my writing has helped them. Here I am, making connections with people I've admired for years. Here I am, with a husband who loves me, friends who stand by me, and a family that is in the process of healing. I'm getting back into those golden years - attracting incredible opportunities and people into my circle, growing deeper with old friends and family, and falling back in love with myself. I've learned that being open is not just about giving the world the best of me, but it is also about receiving the blessings that are meant for me.

If you're struggling with being open, here's what helped me then and now:

  • Figure out how much trust you're willing to give people - and every now and then, try to give a little more. Very hard to do, especially if you've been burned before, but trust is vital to being open.
  • Trust yourself. There's that T-word again. Trust your instincts and gut feelings. They'll never lead you astray and will keep you in check if you're trying to be someone you're not - a problem you can easily fall into if you're low on self-esteem.
  •  Get out there and meet people! Once I started joining various community groups and going to different workshops and events, I met so many people who gave me that "like-minded" vibe I got in university. A big plus were the connections I made with people who brought new opportunities into my life. Remember my "Making Friends" post? 'Nuff said.
  • Remind yourself that you're the sh*t. Honestly. You have to create your own self-esteem reserve - no one else can truly fill that up for you. Embrace the unique things you bring to the table and fall in love with yourself. However, always remember that self-confidence and arrogance are two different things. Big up yourself, but never trample on anyone else.
  • Find and follow your passions. What do you love to do? If you think you could make your bread and butter off of it but you're reading this post while at a job you hate, what are you waiting for? If you're not there yet - find a way to fit your passions into your daily life. I feel the most open and connected to the world when I'm doing something I'm passionate about.

Being open takes risk, but has amazing rewards. How open are you? What are some of the things you've had to overcome in order to be more open?

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