I read Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me. Afterward, I was accused of “changing.” The thought that one booked could affect a person so profoundly was absurd to outsiders. But I challenge anyone to read that book and not come out the other side more empowered, more afraid, more understanding and more ambitious.
The truth is, some people don't want you to be smart. That is the ugly truth. Some people are intimidated by people or women specifically who have self-confidence and higher knowledge than them. Don't let this stop you from educating yourself. Do not lower yourself to match someone else, raise your standard. Educating yourself doesn't have to mean going back to school. I like to learn without the dread of tests and papers. There are blogs, podcasts, webinars, vlogs, articles, conventions, Ted Talk, books, TV shows, documentaries. There are so many ways to gain knowledge and we're all just sitting on it taking selfies.
Knowledge is power and when you begin to teach others and share what you've learned it empowers you to love yourself because you are smart and sometimes it takes a little more to see it.
see yourself and be yourself
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t outsource its the image of your own beauty. What does that mean, you ask? Well let me ask you a question, do you often go to applications and filters to make you feel good about yourself? I remember if I wanted to feel pretty I would do my makeup and then take a picture on snapchat with the beauty filter. I would look in the mirror and feel “eh” but once I saw that snap chat filter I was all “yassss.” There are memes that talk about the difference between a snapchat filter and when you’re recording a video and the filter comes off (because it doesn’t detect your face.) I’m not saying one is better than the other but I’m saying clearly, snapchat is not representative of our true selves.
I was also addicted to contouring, yes, addicted. For those of you who don’t know what contouring is, it’s changing your facial structure with the use of makeup. Contouring plays with the idea of shadows, lights and darks so that it looks like you’re traveling around with a lighting crew to make you look fabulous. Even now, as I describe it, it sounds amazing. But it’s not. It wasn’t amazing because at the end of the day when I took my makeup off, I was me again in all of my imperfection. There are even memes some saying “get yourself a girl who can contour, it’ll be like you have two girlfriends, one is just ugly.”
First things first, stop contouring. Stop slimming your nose, which was my vice. Stop making your eyes look bigger or your chin smaller. You are perfect. Throw out your idea of beauty and if you can’t go cold turkey, wean yourself off. I went from seriously considering a nose job to look like how it did when it was contoured to “oh! I like my nose!”
What we need is to stop being force-fed one idea of beauty. There is no such thing. How do you stop being fed something that is literally everywhere? I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s worth it. First, delete snapchat. Some of you are clinging to this thing like a life-line, only posting photos with this dang beauty filter, here’s a secret, you’re beautiful without it. Now it’s time for you to see yourself. Want to see beauty? Want to have self-confidence? Stop looking in your phone and start looking in the mirror.
Next, invest in your sanity. I downloaded an app that is a plugin for your browser, a content blocker. This content blocker specifically keeps anything related to a certain family who’s famous for contouring, plastic surgery and whose names all start with a K. I can’t use their name or else I wouldn’t be able to view my own website. I’d also like to state that I don’t hate this family. Seriously, they’re hustling and doing their thing but what they consider to be beautiful works for them and not me. I don’t look like them and I gotta love my damn self. Sorry, not sorry.
Find mentors and inspirations that look like you. For me, it was looking to people who are game-changers and business leaders that were Latina and had curly hair. Yeah, it seems silly but our brain makes connections on levels we aren’t even aware of. I looked to all these fair skinned, straight haired beauties and my mind automatically pushed me into the idea that success equated to all those things they encompassed. I just wanted to see myself reflected somewhere in a position of power and beauty and seeing people like me doing their thing has had a huge impact on my confidence.
Imagine if we asked for what we wanted. Imagine if we took time out of every day to be fearless and brave. What would that look like to you? Maybe fearless means booking your next trip away or maybe it’s the first step of asking for that much deserved time off. Fearless could mean wearing your hair in a natural state or asking for a raise. It could be as simple as “hey, this isn’t what I ordered” instead of just dealing with it.
The more often you face your fears, even the tiny ones, the easier it gets to incorporate fearlessness into your week. For me, this week alone it meant messaging someone on LinkedIn, applying for a position I wasn’t completely qualified for, advocating for myself at work, making business connections and wearing not a drop of makeup outside of my house. You know what? I feel like a badass and it’s only Thursday.
Once you reach a less of fearlessness, your self-esteem will sky-rocket and more opportunities will open to you, it’s the law of attraction as well as the law of averages. If you never ask for what you want, you will never get what you want. It’s that simple.
I recently posted a photo to instagram that read “May the Bridges I Burn Light the Way.” I briefly discussed the importance of saying No. Not every opportunity is a great one and saying no could really help add value to yourself or rather help you understand your value. I know people, multiple people who are in unhealthy relationships with significant others, with family members and even a few faux friends.
Here is what happens when you say yes to anything that you don’t feel passionate about: you hate yourself. Not only do you hate yourself but you may even get angry and don’t become your best self. Side note, I also noticed that saying yes to something you don’t want to do also tends to lead you to giving an inch and people taking a mile. Trust me when I say, I’ve been there before and time and time again I was actually shocked by this.
In order to value yourself, you should stop doing free work. This goes for photographers, artists and everything in between. Time is money and if someone doesn’t want to pay your for your time, clearly they don’t value your work so why are they asking you anyway? Go away. Valuing yourself could in the form of saying no to a hangout session with your faux friends if you don’t leave their presence feeling amazing and full of energy than you haven’t gotten any benefit. After hanging out with my friends, I feel like I could conquer the world, if your friends leave you feeling crappy it may be time to start saying no.
Maybe the next time you say no it’ll be when someone asks to you hangout for a night of drinking when you know you have work the next morning. Value your time, value your body if you no something won’t make you feel good you need to make the right decision. Ultimately these things lead to self-love because when you’re waking up the next morning body aching and a pounding headache and you still have to take on the day, the only person to blame is yourself.
Get creative with your No’s and thank me later.
Have you ever felt like something was just off? Call it woman’s intuition but how many times do you actually trust your gut? Maya Angelou has a wonderful quote relayed by Ms. Oprah Winfrey, she said, “when people show you who they are, believe them.” Trusting yourself means listening to your body. We were all created with intelligent design. When we feel emotions and tears begin, trust yourself to know that you’re feeling something deep. Don’t push your feelings aside. When we are scared, don’t brush it off, it’s okay to go into defense. When someone hurts you, trust yourself if you feel that they’ll do it again.
Why is trusting yourself so important? You’ve already made up your mind whether you know it or not. Perception is reality and our brain will look for cohesiveness everywhere. What that means is as simple as if you think you’re going to have a bad day, more than likely you will have a bad day. While you can try to change your perception its best to remove yourself from a situation instead.
Trusting yourself means making a decision and sticking with it. Once you trust yourself you gain confidence in your decision-making skills and become more independent. You can become a free thinker and use that to directly affect your self-esteem. Trust in your brains, trust in your beauty, trust that your confidence is validated by everything that you are.
Now, as the beloved RuPaul says: You better werk!