I remember when I was a sophomore in high school there was a young lady that did not like me. I had never done anything to her personally, but she rolled her eyes and snarled whenever I walked by. I finally discovered from a friend that she didn’t like me because she felt I “thought I was cute.”
Now, if you’ve never heard that term before, it’s akin to being haughty, or as it’s said today, thinking you’re “all that.”
This knowledge truly disturbed me. I’ve NEVER felt that way nor acted that way toward anyone, and her perception of me truly bothered me. I wanted to shout out to her, “I’m really a good person! I really do have a kind heart, and if you just got to know me instead of judging me based on how I look you would know that! Let’s talk and I can explain who I really am!”
But, I didn’t do that. I just dealt with it. Until one day I went home with a heavy heart and shared with my dad what had been happening. I’ll never forget my dad’s response. He first asked me a series of questions then hit me with a realization whammy!! The conversation went something like this…
Daddy: “Well, don’t you think you’re cute?”
Me: “Well, yeah, but not like she means it.”
Daddy: “It doesn’t matter how she means it. Do you think you’re cute?”
Daddy: “Do you think you’re smart?”
Me (puzzled because the issue was her thinking I thought I was all that): “Yes.”
Daddy: “Well, if you are the things she thinks you are what are you upset about? You are beautiful and you are intelligent. You are not responsible for how people interpret who you are, you are responsible for being who you are. Now you walk with your head held high and you keep being cute and smart!”
And that was that. Ha! I remember the freedom and pride I felt when I owned who I was even if someone didn’t like who I naturally was.
So, when I went back to school and caught her rolling her eyes and snarling at me as I walked down the hall, pride in who I truly was was the courage I needed to stand up to her. Truth is such a great weapon to have in your arsenal!
My heart bleeds for Gabrielle Douglas who has received backlash on a global scale for simply being. To Gabrielle and countless others who face the quadruple battle of sexism, racism, intra-racial racism (my made up term, but y’all know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. don’t cha?), and false self-degradation based on unfounded negative perception, may you be liberated today by repeating what my dad told me so many years ago–you are not responsible for others’ perception of you, you are simply responsible for being you. Walk in THAT truth!
May we today sistahs release that horrible, horrible burden of perception and walk unapologetically in who we really are despite others’ perception of us, confront (if we must) our accusers with truth, hold our heads up to “walk down the hall” in our truth of being individually and collectively “all that” of who God made us to be, no longer walk in the burden of caring about someone else’s opinion, and finally, FI-NAL-LY embrace our natural instinct to just…be!
Now, walk with your head held high, and you keep being cute and smart! 😉