F E A R | False Evidence Appearing Real; but what if how I feel seems real to me? Who’s lying and when was the last time you called yourself out on your lies? It’s easy to become afraid of something or someone, but what happens when the thing you fear the most is yourself? Who saves you then?
I was afraid, no I was terrified. The thought of me fulfilling my destiny and becoming the person I felt I was on the inside put me in a state of fear. I began to live a double life so to speak where I was one person at work and another at home.
I am that person who always has something to say; I can be combative and even argumentative at times. Basically, I am that person who doesn’t take mess from anyone and I speak my mind. Imagine my surprise when I realized I wasn’t that person all of the time. Silencing my voice and personality started as I entered the professional workforce. Upon graduating in 2006, I began working for a government organization. I was quickly conditioned by older black women on how to “play the political office game”, the one where you bite your tongue, not say what you really want, and basically allow non-blacks to act a fool and get away with it. If this isn’t your truth, you don’t have to take it in, but it happened so much in my organization that I begin to believe this was how all black women got ahead.
I began to embrace the fact so much that I started to live a double life. I was not the same Diana in the office as I was outside of it; it kind of became a new art form to me. What I didn’t notice was how easy my dual personality lifestyle was corrupting me outside of work.
Starting my business, SistersWithBeauty, I stood up as a resource to speak on behalf of Natural Hair and those who were unaware of its power. I must have fooled myself into thinking that I could be silent at my job and then be bold in my business. The silencing personality was corrupt and deceiving. At work, I was praised for how well I kept my cool but I didn’t feel like I was being authentic to myself.
Moonlighting in and out of speaking my mind was really starting to affect me. The silencing that I was becoming accustomed to was taking shape in my business; it began to cloud my ability to grow and make major moves as a brand but more importantly as a woman.
Why was I afraid of myself and who placed this fear in front of me? I couldn’t blame the black women in the beginning of my professional career, I was the one who made the choice.
We have the right to be afraid just as much as we have the right to be courageous. However, sometimes choosing the first option is normally the default for many of us, as it can be the easiest choice, which certainly was the story for me.
My battle with fear caused me great pain, conflict, and depression. I was in the fight of my life. To be still or to become, that was the question. I didn’t know which way to truly turn for the answer.
In the face of fearing myself, I knew something had to change. If I wanted to get out of the darkness fear was placing on me, I was going to have to do things differently.
3 things I did to remove fear:
- I allowed myself to fall: seeing yourself at your lowest can shock your system. How do you know what your low is if you’ve never fallen? I sat in 2 weeks of destructive behavior and isolation. I felt the grasp of fear and knew I had to fight for my life to get out of it. But being at your lowest point has some beauty in it, because there is nowhere to go but up.
- I became transparent: I answered truthfully when people asked me how I was doing, “I’m not ok, I don’t feel like myself, I cry every day”. This harsh truth was not only therapeutic but it showed me who was in my corner and who wasn’t. Some people in our lives are not built to handle our darkest hours. I didn’t know who they were until I faced depression and saw some jump into my life while others ran to the exit.
- I asked for help: After exposing my truth, I used my voice (for what felt like the first time) and asked for help.
My battle with fear during my transition has felt like trick mirrors. I see myself as a powerful, bold, boss ready to take on the world. But then on the other hand, I’ve had times where I felt like the complete opposite. These days I focus on my strengths. These are the things that I do extremely well and to give myself grace to be human. Some may look at you and see all of these elements about you that you may or may not be projecting. My job has never been to appear perfect for anyones comfort, not even my own.
No one is above fear and no one can escape it. How we deal with it is what makes the difference in our stories. I have come to understand, fear is a choice, and option. I get to choose when and if it’s real to me.
Stick around as I tell my #ButterflyTransition story. Before you go answer the Transition Question:
Do you know what it’s like to be afraid of yourself? If so how did you fight from its hold on your voice and light?
Yours in Transition,