On Saturday, I joined the world in watching the homegoing of Whitney Houston. So many thoughts and feelings flickered through my mind and heart, but one thought hit me square in the middle of my head like a dart, and I haven't been able to shake it. What would it mean to be truly secure with yourself? Let me explain.
A common thread in the remembrance of Whitney Houston, and a key characteristic of hers that I (like many) admittedly overlooked was her generosity in mentoring and supporting other female artists. I never paid close attention to the enormity of what it meant for Brandy and Monica to be mentored by her. I didn't recall her essence of sisterhood until I saw replays of the "I'm Every Woman" and "Heartbreak Hotel" videos. This was something that Whitney just DID. She was never looking for accolades, tributes, or recognition for what she gave, but she just did it.
So, you might be asking what that has to do with being secure with oneself. Kelly Price summed it up perfectly in a memorial on BET by retelling the story of recording Heartbreak Hotel - she thought her voice was far too overpowering, so she attempted to hold back. When Whitney realized what she was doing, Kelly said she "cursed her out" and told her that she needed to "open her mouth and sing". Kelly said that it spoke to Whitney's confidence in her talent - she was not afraid of what the next woman would bring to the table. She was not in the business of minimizing others in order to make herself look great. She was secure in her abilities - so what did she have to worry about?
How many of us feel that way? From what I've personally experienced, I'd say very few. I see it in the workforce. I see it in the blogging world. I see it in the Toronto arts & entertainment scene. I see it among friends and family. Too many people with gifts, talents, and skills but lacking the self-actualization to be truly secure with themselves. People don't help others because they're afraid that person will surpass them. People don't mentor up-and-comers because they're worried about losing their place. People are wary about combining their talents with others because they don't want to split the reward. There could be valid and understandable reasons for this, but I feel that ultimately, innate lack of self-confidence is the culprit.
Whether things change and we begin to help, lift up, and support one another more is secondary to the fact that first, we must have a sense of security in ourselves. Once you own that, there is no room to feel threatened. How can that be accomplished? I'm not expert, but I'll tell you what I think:
Define what you do. What is your gift, talent, or skill? Do you have more than one? What are you good at? Figure this out. A major part of insecurity is not knowing exactly where you fit. We all have something. What's your thing?
Know it and grow it. Once you've identified your gifts, dedicate yourself to perfecting your craft. Be the best lawyer, singer, or customer service rep you can be. And while you're at it, stay on top of new trends that can help you to evolve. Stagnation leads to insecurity about your skills. Always be ready to remix or further develop what you're good at - but never lose sight of what the essence of your gifts are.
Understand that no one can be more 'youer than you'. Don't sleep on the wise words of Dr. Seuss. One of my favourite Seuss quotes is “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” LIVE IT. Recognize, above all, that there is no one in the world exactly like you. No one can do what you do, the way you do it. Feel that what you do is not good enough? Well, go back to Step Two and work it out. But never forget that there is no one with your gift and experiences. The words roll right off the tongue, but take a minute to think about it. Throw away the insecurity and cloak yourself in the fact that you are the only you ever. What are you going to do now?
Let me bring it back full circle. and note that two things are crystal clear. Whitney was incredibly embracing of her fellow artists, and she possessed an undeniable gift. It dawned on me that Whitney was able to be so embracing because she was confident of herself and her abilities, and that made me think about how I can reach that same level. Life is hard enough as it is - a little self-confidence will make it a lot easier!
How confident are you in your gifts and talents? Do you know what you're good at? What helps you to build and maintain your self-confidence? If you're struggling with insecurity, what are your triggers? Let's talk about it!