By Samantha McKenzie
Evolution only happens when those among us are brave enough to shed away the old, create the new, and walk into the path of the unknown. ~ Rudolph Angel
Most of us are given our belief system at birth. We were told, nudged or highly encouraged to become something successful when we grow up. We were passed down the religion of our parents, even when it led us away from God.
We were molded and shaped by every system we were blessed or cursed to pass through.
And sometimes – without consent – our rituals became the results of sheer repetition.
Sometimes, we acted the way we did because it was just our way of surviving.
And without much debate, with very little of our own input, we became the unwitting aspirations of others, the outcome of what someone else wanted us to be.
But who are you really?
How do you define yourself?
When someone asks the question, who do you say you are?
This week, I was forced to reexamine my personal constitution. I was challenged to comb through the rules I had been using to guide my life. I wanted to see if they still served me. I had to ask myself, over and over again, what do I truly believe in, what was I willing to sacrifice, and what was I willing to stand for.
This act of reflection was necessary. It was interrogatory. I invaded my own thinking, searching for the answers of today because yesterday’s solutions can not always be carried forward. I wrestled with my traditions and my willingness to accommodate others, even when I knew it was detrimental to me. I wrecked my brain, tossed my ideas back and forth, hoping to become crystal clear about the person I said I would be.
And when I was done, I was ready to embrace my better self. I was ready to stand for myself.
I am stronger. So strong that I even when I face adversity and heart-wrenching pain, I can absorb the impact, harness its energy, and reuse it for the good of the whole. I can sit in the uncomfortable feelings of an issue and still see a rainbow. Because I know I will heal and I know how to heal myself.
I am thoughtful. So thoughtful that I don’t contemplate if I should help a person, I just do it. If I have a skill, I will share it. If I have an answer, I will give it. If you need me to make a way, I will dig the first hole to the tunnel and walk with you through the darkness while holding your hand. If there’s a need, I will provide.
I am an inspiration. So inspiring that if you let me into your life, I will believe in your greatness way before you do. I am the quintessential corner man. I will be that friend that reminds you of your purpose even when you are not quite ready to reach it. I will pretend to be patient with you, but I will never let you forget that there’s still work to do.
I am a leader with no title and can sit in the circle of teammates and thrive because I believe in the collective power of thought and know that knowledge does not discriminate. I show up on game day with the performance of a star athlete and the enthusiasm of a cheerleader. Let’s go.
I am passionate and contagious. I live and love out loud and if I love you, you won’t be confused. I believe that while my love for a person can come to an end, love itself is endless. It never runs out.
I am naive and soft-hearted and take issue with those who hurt my feelings with no regard. I tend to look for the good in people even when their flaws have consumed them. I go back into burning buildings to save people because I believe in prayer, and hope, and second chances.
I will, however, fight, in word and in action, to protect those who can’t protect themselves and to protect myself. I am a champion of the underdog and self-love. I love myself. And I am thankful for every lesson and every experience that taught me how.
I am truthful, even when telling a lie would be easier. Because truth is freedom, and lies are rooted in fear. I love freedom and courage equally.
I realize that no matter what exists around me, no matter what people throw my way, I am unable to betray myself. I am unwilling to be silent. And you should be too.
My personal constitution needed a reset.
I encourage you to take the time as well to get acquainted with your belief system and decide on who you want to be.
Know who you are.
Then live it.
One day at a time.