In his Creative DIVA Summit interview, writer/actor, Juan Francisco Villa talked about his struggle with being as supportive of himself as he is with others. My client, Soyini Crenshaw, wrote to me about how much she resonated with this idea of self-supportive.
Why is it so hard for us to support ourselves, but easy to applaud others?
I think back to the first moment I envisioned something magical for myself and someone told me it wasn't possible. That moment came up in my morning pages after I created a list of things of books, stories, documentaries that shaped my early childhood. One of them was Africa Adorned. I remember falling in love with this coffee table book. The photos of the girdled Dinka women, the silver jewelry that Tuareg women wore to identify their wealth along with their tent and cattle that they owned moved my 6 year old self into action. lol
My father told me stories about the people from this gorgeous world created by my ancestors and I felt a deep connection. We then watched a PBS documentary about the Dahomey and did a family tree where we learned that my great great grandfather was of the Dahomey tribe.
I felt an immediate connection. Those gorgeous African peoples in the book became real to me, distant relatives of which I could be proud. I started wearing my mother's, aunts' (and anyone else brave enough to leave me in near their jewelry box) silver jewelry everywhere and was determined to get my 6 year old self to Africa as soon as physically possible. Living as the only little black girl in a completely white school, it was those stories that sat on my shoulder like little angels whispering into my ear every time I felt alone and alienated at school.
On the first day of Show and Tell at school, I marched my little African self to the front of the class and shared my heritage. That I was African and came from a great and beautiful people. The teacher called my parents and said I had an overactive imagination and in short, I had to be lying.
My parents were incensed. My father wanted to know WTF was I from if not from Africa. It was the first moment someone tried to tell me who I was and I knew it was a lie. Seems like a simple thing, but I remember it 50 years later as if it was yesterday. Why? Because that was the moment, I learned to support myself by taking charge of my story.
I learned that no one else's idea of who I am trumps who I know myself to be. I learned to stand and call it out from that day forward. It was critical to my emotional survival in a world that tried to tell me I was merely a descendant of slaves.
I learned agency and the power of truth telling and how to rewrite my story. It's powerful stuff and that journal entry became the opening scene of my hit off Broadway play, "Liberty City." The first draft of that story came out of my mouth, onto the page in one afternoon. This was a core value that I learned in that moment; hence it's so crystal clear and takes up lots of space in my memory.
Self-support, self-love, self-esteem happens when you take action on your own behalf. Writing and then sharing my story was an incredibly powerful way to support myself. To build concrete evidence of my self-worth. So, how do you learn to become as supportive of yourself as you are of others?
Learn how to take up space in your memory by writing it down:
Go back to the moment, someone tried to steal your truth.
Go back and
write down that moment,
rewrite it and
share the story.
Give first person testimony.
Then let me know how it goes.
I'd love to hear some stories.
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers