Transitions: Powerless to Empowered
One can say that my life has been a tumultuous journey fraught with various challenges: poverty, cultural identity, gender orientation, and dealing with sexual assault and its aftermath, to name a few.
These experiences defined how I saw myself and it was not a pretty self image. I was like a broken mirror, distorted, riddled with jagged edges that, no matter how painstakingly the pieces were put back together, the fissures were still visible. To say that I had a distorted, ugly image of myself is an understatement. I saw myself as less-than, as tainted, a thing of no value, broken. One can argue that I was very much a product of the environment that I was brought up in, and yes, much of how I saw myself was a result of where I grew up and to an extent, how I was brought up.
But you have to realize that when all you know reinforces those feelings of no value as fact, that is all you accept. You accept, endure and find the will to survive. That is what I did, I put one foot in front of the other and tried to keep walking forward.
What I didn’t realize is that in trying to find a way to endure, something unexpected happen.
I changed, I became...MORE. I felt like I had awakened from a long sleep to find a person who stopped surviving and started living.
I don't know when that happened or how, all I know is that when I moved three years ago, for work, I became aware of this change. I feel that my new job and move to Iowa was the catalyst to this awareness. I was no longer trying to go through the motions. I was HERE, present, experiencing, feeling life!
It was a heady feeling, this sensation that I was no longer encased in ice, that I was no longer in some sort of stasis where I went through the rote courtesies and responses instead of being engaged in the interactions around me.
I was also no longer silent. I had found a voice, MY voice, challenging the status quo.
Challenging things - actions, statements, perceptions that are unjust, ignorant, biased and non-equitable - at my place of work, in my community, within my own family. At work especially, I find myself pushing the envelope, not accepting the inequity that affects people, WOMEN of color, that is prevalent in predominantly white institutions.
There are many times where I speak up and the words that are coming out of my mouth are provocative to say the least, and challenge the system I am in. Those are the time where I am thinking to myself, “Who is this person that is speaking?” Or “I really need to shut up now, I just need to stop talking!”
But I don't stop speaking, and even though I am afraid of exposing myself, of painting a target on my back, I don’t stop. If I am already a target because of the color of my skin, because of where and how I grew up, because I AM different, then why continue to be silent?
So expose away! I will no longer let fear learned from my past experiences silence the voice that has much to say and value to impart.
Where once I was powerless, the choices I have made to survive have brought me to this: a state of power and purpose.
I have become emboldened. I have become empowered. I have become powerful.
I have transitioned from a powerless perception of self to an empowered mindset. And this mindset has given me courage to fight, to advocate for myself and others, to NOT accept things I cannot change but to instead be part of the fight to change the things I cannot accept.
For others like I was who are are still asleep, still lost in limbo between surviving and living, between being silenced and finding a voice - I want this transition, this transformation for them. This acceptance of self, of loving oneself and all their jagged edges. Of realizing the value their lives have, of believing that they are persons of worth.
I am not sure where this path of empowerment will lead me, and I am under no false impressions that this is an easy path to follow, but I know I will not turn back. I will forge ahead on this thrilling but terrifying journey forward, where my voice continues to speak and grow, with the hope that it may inspire someone else to find their voice, to find that they are no longer just surviving - but living.