Truthfully, in my efforts to be professional, successful, and less of the me that was problematic to others, I lost pieces of myself. This Juneteenth (inspired by my friend Erin @faithxwtf) I’m reclaiming the parts of me that somebody said weren’t welcome either in an evaluation, off-to-the-side convo, grade, in the editing process, or even by not liking my posts- whatever.
Lunch with my sorority line sister revealed to me pieces I’ve neglected or professionalized or hid. And WOW. Dang! It’s beautiful to be with folks who KNOW you. Even the you - you don’t engage or see much anymore.
In all of my becoming and transforming, in Brene’s words, I’ve orphaned parts of me. Honestly, in some ways, I’ve whitewashed parts in order to fit and succeed. Today, I want to start integrating those parts again. Starting by naming them.
Peace lovin’ girl - the hippie, Birkenstock, free, fun, spontaneous, risk-taking. My friends actually called me this. I wore Birks and tie dye - didn’t care. These were ways of being shaped at Camp where I was formed as a leader.
I see her today as the one who goes places with her sons and lets them have fun (it’s risky when your son is on the spectrum and could get lost) and still protects them. Bring back the Birks. I love those sandals. Jesus sandals. And speaking of shoes - I like Mary Jane’s, and men's shoes (not tennis, but casual, dress shoes) and boots, too.
Voice! Opinions! I show up on social but I’m educating and not always giving an opinion. I reclaim my voice which takes sides and a stance. Gosh, I’m thinking of my pivotal moment when I knew I was an orator. In eighth grade, I entered an Oratory Competition hosted by the Optimist Club. The prompt was “If Only.” My speech was titled “If Only the Majority Realized that the Minority’s Capability is Equal. That Charity spoke on behalf of her people in front of white men who visibly showed disinterest. She cried afterward. But she stood up straight, shoulders back, and spoke her truth and even truth to power. Later I competed through ACTSO doing monologues as part of the youth NAACP. I made it to regionals and it was so validating.
She read a lot. Black authors mostly. I’m returning to her this summer With the summer reading and the Black book challenge. Zora, Maya, James, and Morrison. Something feels off within and I pray their words will help me find my center.
She had a style of all her own butterfly collars and colors. Cuteness. With some edge. Mix match earrings because who said I gotta follow arbitrary rules? Don’t matter who said it, I’m not doing it.
I’m still her and I’m still here.
Growing and maturing will no longer mean abandoning me.
God made us whole and beautiful and we, through the sins of covetousness, pride, and scarcity can break folks down. Become more truly yourself - identify pieces that once were the frame of your “puzzle.” Put them back where they belong. Where you belong and then just be. Belong where you are. Belong to yourself first.
© Charity Goodwin, 2023.