I recently attended a funeral of a friend who lost her mom.
I never really liked funerals because it was often such a sad place to be for me.
Death, especially of a loved one or close family member causes you to perform an introspective examination of who you are, and what your purpose is here on earth. There are certain messages that are much more received during this time because the heart and mind are more open and receptive after experiencing a life-altering event.
As with most funerals, many shared the way they were impacted positively by the deceased. There was no doubt that she lived her life on purpose according to the desire placed in her heart. As I listened to story after story of how so many people became better because of her impact, I started to think; what if she never embraced the gifts she was given? This lady was good with her hands. She was a master chef. What if she decided that her gift of cooking and service was not what she wanted to do, but something else? How many lives would she have missed impacting in such a meaningful way?
The pastor used the opportunity to remind the audience that being your best, and fulfilling your calling is necessary because there are many people who are waiting to be impacted and blessed by your gift. Your unique gift.
No two individuals or gifts are the same.
As a Communications Coach, I immediately began to draw the parallels. The way we naturally communicate with each other varies from person to person.
Many times, we try to be like others and be copycats, but our zone of genius comes from exhibiting our unique talents and operating in our strengths. Then, and only then can we really expand our full potential.
Over the years, I have been told and given the advice to do many things that conflicted with who I was and as a result of adapting and adjusting each time, my confidence started to wane.
I was told I was too soft.
I was a people pleaser.
I need to toughen up.
And the sad thing is, I started to believe that.
Then, I was told I was too confident and that I needed to tone my confidence down.
I was too happy.
I was just lucky. Lucky because I didn’t “seem” to have it as bad as others, but sure enough, my time would be coming.
Don’t get me wrong. I had my share of trials and tribulations. I don’t think you can find a person on the planet that has escaped some form of heartache.
Like a ping pong ball, I turned it up.
I turned it down.
I tried to adapt and adjust.
Before I knew it, I didn’t recognize myself. I looked in the mirror and wondered Monique went.
Who are you? I asked myself. Who ARE you? Seriously.
I had to get really clear about trying to answer this question.
Have you ever been told you were too much of something, but the something was an innate part of who you are?
The erosion of confidence and identity doesn’t magically disappear and it doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s more like a slow cooker. It takes a while, but when it’s done, you’ll know.
You’ll feel different.
You’ll recognize that your esteem wasn’t where it once was.
Making decision after decision that doesn’t align up with whom you are at your core, or your values can strip your being from your body.
I had to make a choice to accept and embrace me.
“It is natural to want to keep options open as long as possible, rather than closing off possibilities by making explicit choices. But it is only through making and acting on choices that you can win. Yes, clear, tough choices force your hand and confine your path. But they also free you to focus on what matters.” (A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin)
Fortunately, through a series of tools, exercises, empowerment organizations, books and coaches, I slowly started to reclaim my confidence and get my mojo back.
I am bubbly.
I smile a lot and I actually like to smile.
I don’t like to hold grudges because it hurts me more than them. (learned that the hard way)
I like to share feedback. (sometimes too much)
I have an ability to observe and see talent quickly in others.
And, like we say in the islands, “who don’t like it, lump it.”
If you lost your confidence in the journey of life, reclaim it.
Re-claim your esteem and your energy.
Identify the way you communicate best and OWN it.
Stop trying to be boisterous and loud when you know it drains you.
You don’t have to be someone else or live up to someone else’s expectation of you.
You just need to be you.