Lately I have been thinking a lot about how long it has taken me to have my insides match my outsides. For so long they were not matching up. Whether it was that externally, I looked bad and felt OK on the inside, or vice-versa. I have made it a point in my life to search for my true self.
Since I was a kid I wanted to do it, which is weird because as a kid you have not become yourself yet; you are still developing. But this just backs up my whole theory that you are born a fully realized person, but that person gets lost in the socialization process.
I bought a t-shirt in Fanuel Hall when I was a teenager that said, "I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul." I never knew where that quote came from until I watched Invictus the other night. http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/william-ernest-henley/invictus/
I felt like my equilibrium had been rocked. I had no idea that that quote was going to be the precursor for my entire journey. I sat on my couch and thought, Nelson Mandela spent 30 years in a prison cell because of something he believed in. If he can do that, then surely I can stand to have a few uncomfortable feelings.
That's what it takes to change: the ability to have uncomfortable feelings and to tolerate them over and over again until the new becomes the norm. It sometimes feels excruciating but, for me, the end result has been love.
I had it all twisted inside. What was love hurt and what was bad felt good. I kept going though, no matter what.
I used to stand on stage doing my "act" and feel my insides wanting to push out. I wanted to do more, say more, be more.
A lot of what has been happening to me lately is that I'm realizing that I've always been who I wanted to be. I just didn't allow myself to feel it because I didn't think I deserved it. And sometimes society likes to have us believe that we are not safe if we love and forgive. Well, I disagree wholeheartedly.
I'm not saying nothing should bother you — actually, it's quite the contrary. You should go through all your feelings so you can eventually know who you are and what you feel instead of having others tell you.
When I first moved to NYC I was teaching aerobics to these kids from broken homes. There were 2 programs — one in Hell’s Kitchen for very small kids and one in Harlem girls 13 and 14.
I taught the one in Hell's Kitchen. The guy who taught the class in Harlem was one of Madonna's back-up dancers. I had never met him but one day I got a call that he had quit and my first thought was, I can't leave those girls like that. People have probably abandoned them their entire lives. I can't teach the class but I sure can go up there and end it respectfully.
So on the train I went. I got off at the stop and got lost. I saw a gangsta-looking guy leaning against a mailbox. He was the angriest looking dude I'd ever seen, and I've seen some angry dudes. I walked right up to him and said, "Excuse me, do you know where such and such address is?"
He looked at me like I was CRAZY! Like, how dare she talk to me, no one talks to me. But then all of a sudden, his face softened, he cracked a smile and gave me the directions.
I walked into the class and these young girls looked and acted like they were in their 20's. They were all Latino and African American. They did not trust me at all. They had walls up so high that I thought I'd never get through to them.
Well, my instincts told me to be goofy and goofy I was. I started doing the worm on the floor and within seconds they went from being hardcore women, to the silliest, most vulnerable teenagers I'd ever laid eyes on.
I told them that we were going to have to cancel the class but I wanted to respect them and come up and tell them myself. I wanted them to know that they were important, and that it wasn't because of them that the class was canceled so abruptly; it was because of someone else's lack of professionalism.
I think about how fearless I was that day because I knew what I was doing was right. And how I trusted my instincts and how I was goofy and how even the angriest man in the world helped me. Back then, I had no problem doing such a thing for others but now I'm learning to do it for myself as well. Im learning to show up for myself even when circumstance happen beyond my control. I'm also learning not to internalize other’s bad behavior.
Because really, the more I do it for myself the more I can share it with others. I will add to the peace in the world instead of adding to the chaos. And that is all I have ever wanted to do, and I can now because "I am the master of my fate and I am the captain of my soul."