Anyways, do you all remember the post I wrote called "I Hope The News Doesn't Find Out My Shed Burned Down?" In that post I talked about how I was struggling with the decision on whether to share my personal story with my community in order to raise awareness for my nonprofit, or if it was too personal to let all those details out in the open.
Well...I finally realized that I didn't have much choice in the matter. If the nonprofit was going to work then I needed to be willing to share my story and allow people the opportunity to see beyond the name of my organization and into the real lives of the people that it will be helping.
I'll admit, it hasn't been an easy transition from keeping that part of my life locked away to letting other's in. I've been doing a good amount of small public speaking events, attending more meetings than I care to even keep track of, and allowing several media outlets to follow my story.
To be honest it has been incredibly uncomfortable. Not the meetings and the speaking engagements per say, but the telling of my story.
You guys know that despite the fact that I come on here day after day and bare my soul to you, that I am a fairly private person in my "real" life when it comes to my past.
My level of discomfort in this entire situation has really got me thinking; "why, when I am someone who refuses to allow society to label me and I truly don't care what most people think of me, does all of this make me feel so uncomfortable?"
I finally realized it's because for once in my life I'm not being shunned because of a stigma, I'm being accepted for overcoming it.
Whoa...that's a new one.
I've been labeled by stigma's my whole life. I unfortunately fall into a lot of stigmatic categories that I would rather not be in; "neglected child, domestic abuse survivor, rape victim, single mom, abandoned wife, divorcee, living below the poverty line, rare medical condition, etc, etc, etc,"
For as hard as I work to break the stigma of societal labels, it is intensly uncomfortable to be celebrated for doing just that.
I haven't really had anyone care who I was or what I was doing in a really long time and now suddenly I'm an "inspiration" and "everyone is so proud" of me.
Can we take a minute to talk about how uncomfortable that is??
My entire life no one has really expected anything of me and what was expected of me was sure to be deemed a failed effort no matter what the outcome may have been, so I really never strived to achieve to be anything and now I have all these people counting on me to succeed.
I'm really afraid of letting everyone down.
I'm finally ok with being imperfect. I'm finally done trying to be everything for everyone and living for everyone but myself. I'm finally done trying to pretend that I live a perfect life. I'm finally being a little bit selfish by choosing to be who I want to be and now I'm the face of an organization where a lot of people are counting on me to be successful.
What have I done?
I don't want to be the face of anything. I just want to be me.
On top of it, there's this part of me that feels like if I do fail at this, then everyone will have been right all along, except that instead of just taking myself down, I'm going to take down all the people that are supporting me as well.
You guys I'm scared sick.
I have all these women that I work with, all these abused women that are watching me to see if I can make something of myself. These women come to me when they are completely shattered; where the only thing they feel they have left is the hope that they can salvage their lives and become someone again.
These women, they are all watching me.
I want, for once in my life, to not only shed the negative labels from my own skin, but to show the women that I work with that it is possible to re define yourself, that you can take all the negative experiences that you have had and use them to build something wonderful. I want to prove that it can be done. I want to show society that when you give people like me the opportunity for success that they will not fail you; that they will shed the stigma of a broken human being and they will let their strength shine through.
I'm so used to just going through life unnoticed that it's very uncomfortable for me to have everyone looking at me. It's what scared me away from writing years ago and it's why I don't tell my friends that I write now. I'm perfectly content keeping my successes to myself because I'm not used to having anyone cheer for me and now suddenly I feel like I have all these eyes on me, watching to see if I will succeed or not.
I'm scared because for once in my life, I truly don't want to fail the people around me.
After all these years, my entire life really, I'm allowing myself to dream a dream that I never dared to dream of before; a future where the world thought I was needed.
I know my past was not lived in vain, I just hope the world is ready for me to make something out of it.