Three years ago, I began to pen the process I went through in my 20s and early 30s as I tried to both come of age, take care of our family and grieve your passing. Using writing as a lens, I examined my younger life and discovered I had used 5 principals to guide my steps:
- Proactively delete negative people from my life
- Keep a tribe around me that feed my soul and love me unconditionally
- Search for my true voice by staying authentic and defining myself before anyone else defines me
- Care for myself mentally, physically and spiritually
- Love myself unconditionally
Sikia’s essay below delves into the 5th principle which is about loving yourself. Through lots of trial and error, I found out that before anybody can truly love me, I have to love me first. I have to appreciate the unique perspective I bring to the world. I have to value my contribution, no matter how small or large, because it must matter to me before it can matter to anyone else. Simple concept, hard to execute but necessary.
Always with love,
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The dictionary defines self-confidence as “realistic assurance in one’s own judgment, ability, power, etc.” What strikes me is the word “realistic.” It’s unrealistic for me to ever think I will make it through the first round of American Idol because I can’t sing. But its totally in my wheel house to say, “I am a great mom. I am great at my job. I am a loving wife. I am supportive to my family, including you, my mom and dad and the aunts.”
After a recent conversation with a high-school friend and after my grandmother’s reluctance to celebrate her 80th birthday, I realized not everyone is as self-confident about the real accomplishments they achieve on a day-to-day basis and over a life-time. It seems that some believe that we only have the right to value ourselves when someone else engraves our name on a wood plaque. Who said if our achievements are not acknowledged on some grand scale then they don’t count and therefore don’t matter?
Once I got to thinking about this problem, I realized that lack of self-confidence plagues women of all ages, class and race. For some reason we always tend to find faults and flaws with ourselves. I remember a skit that Amy Schumer did a few years back where she highlighted how women find it difficult to accept a compliment. Super Models don’t think they are beautiful enough. Highly successful, educated women don’t think they are smart or qualified enough. Fitness gurus don’t think they are fit enough. We have a self-confidence epidemic!
The real truth is that every day most people, myself included, go above and beyond for our children, our spouses, our jobs and our friends. Why don’t we see these everyday actions as our achievements? How many times have you ever ended your day, considered everything you accomplished in that 12- 18 hour time period and think, “Wow or #W❤️W, I kicked ass today!“ Probably not often. For too many, the mundane day-to-day activities of going to work, helping with homework, cooking dinner, doing laundry, running households and being present in family’s lives aren’t seen as accomplishments, they are seen as life. Well I’m here to tell you that those things matter and when you kick ass daily, you deserve to reflect on your day: “I am able. I am important, I am powerful. I am good.” This is Self-Confidence!
My grandmother (Connie’s momma) turn 80 this month. Our family really wants to celebrate this huge milestone but she wants no part of any celebration involving her birthday. No fanfare. No celebration. No dinner. No guests. Nothing. I think the reason why is because she has struggled with self-confidence her entire life. In 1936, the same year Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals, Granny were born in Zanesville, Ohio, a small predominately white town 50 miles east of Columbus. She came of age during the 1940’s and 50’s, eras where roles and expectations were highly dictated by race and class. From stories passed down, my grandmother’s parents did not have the time (her mom was a newborn nurse and her dad was a steel worker) or inclination to teach loving and valuing yourself.
Pregnant with her first child at 16 years old, Granny had a total of 8 children which she single handedly raised in Zanesville. She worked on an assembly line at a General Electric plant until the company forced her into retirement. Each of her children matured into responsible, productive citizens and went on to raise their own children with the same morals and character. While no one has ever given my grandmother an engraved plaque, I can confidently declare, “She has lived a life worth celebrating.”
On some days, if I can just get my son out of the house in the morning fed, clothed and not having forgotten any of the things he needs for the school that day then I almost feel like toasting this achievement with 7:30 am mimosas! If I did this for 8 kids, I would expect an annual celebration with a mother of the year award. Face it, no matter what 9-5 job you have, nothing is more difficult or strenuous than being a parent.
By anyone’s standard, Granny is an awesome mother, grandmother and now great grandmother so I just don’t understand the whole, “I don’t want a “fuss” made over me” attitude. She deserves the fuss. Hell, she earned the fuss. We should throw her the most extravagant 80th birthday party in the history of 80th birthday parties. She doesn’t feel deserving. It makes me incredibly sad to realize she does not appreciate how many women in her same shoes failed. My grandmother provided a role model for her sons and daughters who then transferred those lessons to my generation and we hope to continue the traditions with our kids, her grandkids. She does not appreciate this legacy.
My grandmother has only made one mistake throughout her life and that was not loving herself, not valuing herself and not building into herself. Maybe raising 8 kids on your own will do that to you? Maybe when you give everything you have to others there is just nothing left to give to yourself?
My high school friend recently asked me if I was confident in myself. I immediately responded, “Yes!” I am very confident in the person I am; I love me! I have flaws and, of course, there are things I struggle with and work on. This probably fuels my time in the gym working on my physique or speaking with God asking him for guidance and spirituality as I work at becoming a better person. But I choose to celebrate the qualities about myself that make me who I am instead of focusing on the negatives. Granny, we have to start believing in ourselves. Say it out loud….”I believe in myself. I love myself. I value myself. I am #W❤️W because _____”
Jackie’s 2 Cents: The Jackie Unfiltered lifestyle is on a mission to encourage women to value their contributions. We have created a new hashtag just for this purpose: #W❤️W (“WOW” or Women love Women on Wednesday). I’m the guinea pig and will take Sikia’s challenge first: “I #W❤️W because even though I don’t personally have kids, I try to support and help the little ones in my life. After my mom passed away, I remember how much it meant for an adult to show me kindness and love. I’m trying to give that back to the world. Why do you #W❤️W?