“Don’t let nobody tell you what to do.”
“Be a leader, not a follower.”
Growing up, especially in the African American community, we have heard these “proverbs” all our lives. We were told at a young age to not follow the crowd, to march to the beat of your own drum. But no one ever warned us of the scrutiny that would follow if our drum beat carried us away from the status quo, from the norm. Society molds us to be different, to be a leader but then turns around and condemn those who are too different. Those who stand out too much.
From a young age, labels are placed on us. These become prevalent in school. You could be labeled the teacher’s pet, the cheerleader, the bad kid, the dumb kid and even the crazy kid. These labels somehow seem to follow us throughout our lives. The smart kids become the nerds, the cheerleaders become the popular kids and the dumb kids become the class clowns and so on. It seems as if we can never escape our labels. They are always molding and shaping our lives in some context.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
We may not be followers and we may not be following the direction of others, but we are guilty of limiting ourselves. We are guilty of conforming to the box we were put in. We wear our labels like badges of honor and with pride.
This is who I am and I embrace it!
But is that truly who we are? Or have we lived and made the choices we did because of our preconceived notions of who we are?
One of the most exhilarating and freeing things in life is when we can drop the labels given to us and define ourselves based on who we truly are.
It has taken me a long time to finally see who I am. I wasn’t just the smart girl or the teacher’s pet. I am a free-thinker, a free-spirit, and a soft, knowledgeable soul. The world became a much happier and brighter place once I determined who I was for myself. I choose my own labels. I defined me, and I don’t let society dictate who I am.
The most important step in rediscovering who you are is to take the time and listen to yourself. We are always moving and listening to others so much that we neglect the number one priority.
We are such complex and multifaceted human beings. We are capable of being and doing so much more. Don’t let society define you. Reclaim and redefine your own labels. Be the best you possible and live life according to how you see you.
“About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won’t like you at all.”
― Rita Mae Brown
Follow De’Shawn on Instagram @harleighquynn