I recently attended a seminar of sorts, in celebration of International Women’s Day. Over the years I have attended many of these types of forums and have sat among some of the most influential women within the region I currently reside, the Caribbean. Since moving back to the Caribbean (I was born in the West Indies, but raised in New York) I became very active in the Violence Against Women (VAW) awareness movement after receiving some UN Women training at their headquarters in Barbados. Leading women who have made great impact in gender justice studies and mobilization taught a group of young Caribbean women, myself included, strategies on Transformational Leadership for Gender Justice. To say I was in awe is the least and the free food and accommodation didn’t hurt either!
It is quite natural to be wonder-stricken when you rub elbows with women of importance in a particular field. You feel a sense of gratitude due to the headway they have made, you feel indebted to them because what they have done has made your path easier in a sense and has advanced whatever cause you may be interest in. Above all, you feel a sense of emulation. You want to be like them. The latter was something I often felt when I got the opportunity to share space with women who have been change agents in the world. I was not only proud of their works, I wanted to be just like them. My skin would tingle because the excitement was so great. However, I also had a bit of anxiety at the sheer bewilderment of how I could ever reach their level of accomplishment, of influence.
Over time, things have changed for me. I am still grateful to the trendsetting, world-changing, path clearing, BOSS women (and men) in the universe. I still smile from cheek to cheek when I am at a women’s empowerment seminar, while eating popcorn in a cold theater and watching Okoye command the Dora Milaje forward in The Black Panther, and while reading literary works by Zora Neale Hurston. What has changed though is I don’t want to be these ladies. I am actually more fascinated with being me. Emulating me has become my secret obsession.
As human beings, society sets benchmarks as to what and who success looks like. As visual beings, we individually correlate people we have and haven’t met with what success is and we, in turn, want to not only achieve their level of success, we want to be just like them. Please don’t get me wrong, I am the last person to downplay anyone’s hard work, and I am not saying that we shouldn’t privately or openly acknowledge someone’s accomplishments. Especially, (well in my case) if that person’s life’s work is to advance social causes in the betterment of the community and the world. What I am saying though is that these people should be an example of what is possible, not who we should be striving to be (just) like. Does that make sense?
Let me give you an example. Oprah has been one of the most influential women of all time. I think more than one person has innocently said they want to be “the next Oprah”. However, when we say things like that, although it is said with the best of intentions we condition our minds to think that our success stories are going to mirror that of Oprah. If we don’t get to that level then we view ourselves as failures. We don’t feel fulfilled. In today’s world where social media is king, our idols may be this or that Youtuber, Instagram celeb, Tweeter, or whatever. The pressure of being “just like” so and so overwhelms us. The truth of the matter is, you will never be that person and their story will never be yours.
I live my life with no pressure because the only person I am seeking to be like and impress is Claytine Nisbett.
With that being said, now when I sit in a room or I cross paths with some very influential people I think, “I am so happy for you, I fully support you, thank you for the great work you have done, but I don’t want to be (just like) you. I want to be me and the best version of me!” If you are asking, yes I do have this conversation with myself.
I live my life with no pressure because the only person I seek to be like is me. My success story will come directly out of that attitude. I want to grow my brand based on the unique person God has designed me to be. I doubt it, but there may be another Claytine Nisbett out there by name, but not by person. I am who I am and that is who I desire to be. NO PRESSURE.
I will continue to be diligent with this space I have on the internet. Have you noticed the changes?! I have now branded my blog by using my name as the dot com, I have upgraded my plan from Free to Premium, lol!!! Premium life is good. More options. I am even reviving myself on YouTube. Yes, I need a better camera and better lighting, but I am starting from where I am at. I will continue to push forward and try my best to inspire as many people as will read my post and watch my videos. Through that diligence, I will learn and grow and get a bigger platform.
My hope for you is that you be the best Tameka, Lorraine, Sam, Travis, Johnathon, Luke, Katheryn, Morgan, etc. etc. etc. you can be!