Authentic: adjective; of undisputed origin; genuine
I grew up in a family of men and women with very loud and bold personalities. In just my household, my grandparents and mother lived on 2 different ends of those extremes. My grandmother was blunt, in your face honest. She didn't believe in sugar coating anything. Her mantra was: I treat you how you treat me. I admired that she never allowed anyone, friend or foe, to silence her. She stood in her truth whether it went against the status quo or not. She lived her life on her own terms, no apologies. People listened when she spoke, even if they disagreed. I loved that! My grandfather was also bold but soft spoken. He comes from a military background so his moves always seemed calculated to me, even in how he responded to my grandmother's brashness. She would snap. He would snap back but just as quickly, fall back. Neither one possessed the ability to be passive. I admired that.
My mother was the complete opposite. She was timid and reserved. Barely ever did she speak her mind about anything for fear of upsetting someone. One thing she didn't like doing was stepping on toes. No matter how many times people did her wrong, she forgave them. It use to agitate me. How can you forgive someone who has just stolen from you or lied to you?! I could never grasp that concept of forgiveness and moving on. But that was my mother. She did it so effortlessly. It wasn't unusual for her feed the person that has wronged her and clothed the person who just said something malicious about her. My siblings and I watched for years as people constantly lied on her, took from her and treated her as if her existence had no meaning. It wasn't until her death that we realized God's hand in her life that whole time. He created her to be a servant and she was that until her dying day.
Early on in my life, after watching all my mother endured at the hands and mouth of others, I told myself I didn't want to be that. I didn't want to sit on the sideline and condone anyone treating me with ill intent. I believe that the silence equates to agreement. If you don't speak up when someone has hurt you, you give them permission to keep doing it. I wasn't about to allow that in my space. I am naturally a quiet person like my mother. All of us are. But I have the fire of my grandmother when I'm pushed.
In this season that I'm in now, I'm learning that not everyone had a grandmother like mine who encouraged me to always stay true to myself even when it goes against the popular vote. who taught me to always speak up for myself even if no one was listening. Everyone didn't have a grandfather like mine who taught me to calculate my moves because life is a game of chess. Nor did everyone have a mother like mine who forgave even when it hurt her to, simply because it was the right thing to do. Anytime I would be faced with a dilemma, my grandmother would check that. "Speak up for yourself!" "What are you so afraid of?!" "If they don't like what you have to say, that's their problem! But don't allow anyone to use you, abuse you or think little of you! You only give them permission to keep doing it!" I heard this repeatedly my whole life. I don't know a life where being passive was ever an option. This is who I am.
I'm learning that people are not who they say they are. I'm struggling to understand the why behind that logic. I expect others to be too much like me. I'm not perfect at all but even in my flaws, I'm authentic. I don't believe in putting on facades. The person you present yourself to be is the person I'm judging, not whoever you decide to be when you see an opportunity. There is no reward in that. I've had to dig deep and do a lot of self analyzing lately. I have questioned my motive as it pertains to the relationships with the people in my life. One thing I can say is that I've loved from an open space and in doing so, I have managed to stay true to me. I have loved from a place of understanding or at least tried to. I love hard and expect it to be reciprocated, no conditions. Everyone is not made to be that way and that bothers me. In that way, I need to be more like my mother. Forgive and move on with my life.
Regardless of where time will find me, one thing that I can say with conviction is that time will find me being authentically Shelia, always. Those that can't love me during the seasons, well that's their problem. In that way, I'm just like my grandmother.
I am Nelda and Victoria's daughter. One gave birth to me and one gave birth to a fire in me. I love them both equally.
Today and everyday I challenge you to remain true to you. There is no one greater than you. There is no one more worthy of God's greatness than you. Love you. Through the breakups and makeups, love you. Through the shifts in friendships, love you. Always. Love you first. The world will open up to you when you begin to walk in your truth, unapologetically. No need to seek validation from those that have not yet discovered who they are.
This is who I am.
Established August 1982.
Ps: Thank you all for the great response to my blog!! I could never get use to this feeling of knowing people are reading and reacting to something I wrote! My heart is so full. Thank you all so much! I pray that God will continue to allow me to use my talent for good, to inspire others. Its been wonderful. God bless you all!