3 Lessons From My First Black History Month CelebrationFeb 15, 2023
Though my voice and clients reach far and wide, I've lived in Western Canada, on the prairies since 1981, and in the rural town of Lloydminster since 1987 (apart from the four years I spent at Queen's University earning my Commerce degree). Our family felt like pioneers in a region that, in many cases at that time, had never seen people like us in real life. And, in all that time, I never fathomed that there would ever be a Black History Month celebration in my town.
For so long, I was "the only" in many rooms. I was the only Black one, the only woman of color, and the only young woman of color business owner, board chair in a position of power; "the only" - every time.
And what you need to understand is that this "the only" experience is a strange mix of living in a fishbowl while trying to reconcile the paradox of deep loneliness feeling invisible, judged and misunderstood.
Most of that reconciling them came in the form of overachieving to prove my worth, performing to fit in, remaining silent in the face of racism and discrimination, and doing what so many Black people do - "be twice as good, trying to be as good."
What a burden.
Welcome to my life of 40+ years.
This week, the burden was lifted a little.
I finally experienced my first Black History Month in my city by participating in Lakeland College's "Ours To Tell: Black Stories Panel," and a wave of emotions hard to describe washed over me. Other than sharing parts of my personal story in Show Up Confident, I've kept my journey private until this special evening.
Even days later, writing this blog, it isn't easy to describe my feelings after the event. I tried to explain in an Instagram post but even that seems to stop short.
View this post on Instagram
Today, I feel a sense of forgiveness for myself and for those who didn't know my story, and then I feel encouraged to see what is next for a community, learning to embrace those who live in the fishbowl. If I can use my experience to teach you (especially those who have lived "the only experience") in this post, it would be this:
Your story is valuable. The pain, the loneliness, the healing and finally, the "delight of being" that comes when you find yourself in all of it.
Your confidence powers your ability to tell your story. When you believe you are valuable, you'll find value in sharing yourself. When you think your contribution can help another, you will say "yes" to ways to be seen for it - and you'll want to - next, you'll need to prepare to be seen.
Your purpose powers your confidence. Getting clear on the Meaningful Outcome (p. 75 of Show Up Confident) and its four pillars helps you move beyond the fear of telling your story. When the reason is more significant than you, you'll stand in rooms as "the only"; you'll welcome "the fishbowl," but you'll also open your heart to finding a new community all around you.
I felt a lot less lonely this week because I did these three. I also feel what this Queen Ifrica song that is part of the Hue And Style Anthems playlist on Apple Music that shares: "I'm proud of me!"
Now I remain open to the opportunities that will come because of my ability to 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙐𝙥 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙛𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙣𝙩. Share your thoughts with me below if you like.
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