From the great words of RuPaul,
"If you don't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?"
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Self love and Acceptance is very critical towards personal growth. It may not seem such of a big deal but it really is. What I’ve learned in my 30 years of life is that, If you don’t accept yourself completely for who you are, you give that privilege to society and other people to make that decision for you. Now what I mean by accepting yourself completely is Flaws and all, the good and bad.
I will be honest and say every so often I have to go to my full body mirror and have a real conversation with myself. Not necessarily being hard on myself, just confronting my insecurities and hardships. We all have those certain things that we are insecure about that nobody else know, and we do our hardest to not make it known. Rather it’s physically, mentally or emotionally we all have that thing or two. It’s okay because like I said “we all have it” so stop being hard on yourself and accept the flaws and keep it pushing. There’s a time where we have to be hard on ourselves to get through certain things but it’s also important to congratulate ourselves on the progress as well. Give yourself credit because one thing I believe we all can agree on is that life challenging.
Over time as I’ve grown into my own, Im living life now as a comfortable feminine, gay man of color. I would be lying if I was to say that the road was easy. It comes with a lot of pain and hurt but through the journey of accepting yourself it'll be worth it in the end… I PROMISE!
Growing up as a black man was quite a challenge for me. There wasn’t many positive male figure role models in my life. Raised by my grandmother due to teen parents I was mainly sheltered and raised around her and other women in the family. The model I got of black men were thugs, gang bangers, drug dealers, toxic masculinity and workaholics.
In society, being a man of color comes with a strike against you in reference to getting ahead or being successful in comparison to the Caucasian man. In my case, Im strike for being black, strike for being gay AND strike for being feminine. I always struggled to blend in or became intimidated when interacting with other African American men. Nervous and afraid of the consequences I may face if addressed by someone who is homophobic. Anything less of the qualities society defined as a man disqualified you of the title. Qualities such as hyper masculinity, dominance, provider, stern, emotionless, and etc. Knowing early that I wasn’t a part of that cookie cutter idea of a man left me lost of who I was until the age of 24 years old. Thankfully, today that cookie cutter definition of what a man is slowly changing in these modern times.
Today as the topic surface in my mind, I came up with a few tips that helped me on my journey towards accepting and owning who I was as a gay man. These tips can also be used towards discovering your personal brand as well.
One: Discover Your Niche
When it comes to accepting yourself the first things you need to know is Who you are and What sets you a part from everyone else. I struggled with this a lot because I was like many of us, A Jack of all Trades; I liked a lot of different things. So I had to pay close attention to the things I found myself doing subconsciously and make note of it.
The things I loved to do was to make others laugh, story-telling, art, and being of service. Once I found the root things I loved doing I implemented them into my life. For you it might be filmmaking, working with children, teaching, growing a business, dog sitting or whatever it may be. Once you discovered who you are and what you love, then you go to figure out how can you separate yourself from others who do the same thing.
Two: Grow Thick Skin
In this life, everybody is not gonna like who you are and what you do. Quite often people will come for you and throw shade on whatever you bring to do. Society is more comfortable with putting things into boxes or categories. Making it easier to define or label a person. Anything that don’t fits into that particular box or label its frowned upon.
But thats okay, as I always give my disclaimer: You may not agree with what I do or say, but when given advice, take what you need and leave what you don’t. I understand I can’t cater to everyone, I can only speak My Truth and share my experience. That goes for each of us, we have to understand that people are not going to like everything we do or create and that’s okay, we cant allow that negative comment or energy make us give up and throw in the towel. As long as you’re happy with it that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Just like your favorite musician or artist, you’re not going to always like what they produce and that okay.
Growing thick skin is there to help combat all the negative energy and haters who try to tear you down for the things they don’t like or agree with. It’s tough out here but you will be okay. Keep your head held high and keep it pushing.
Three: Find Small Nuggets of Happiness
On your journey of accepting and owning who you are, you’re going to go through a few dry spells. Times where you’re burned out, unispired, creatives block or even stuck. Its best to have a few go-to happy nuggets to help you out of that blocked space.
For me Im an introvert, so I recharge when Im alone. My job/career causes me to be around a lot of people. I love peace and quiet, it helps me listen and organize my thoughts. I also like going for walks by water (water calms my mind), play in my wig collection, watch any show on HGTV network, dance and sing to my favorite songs, or talk on the phone with my best friend. The purpose of this is to find the small things that can instantly boost your happiness that don’t require you to spend money. Find those things you have accessible for free that bring you happiness.
Four: Find Your Tribe
This is one of the most important steps on your journey. Finding like minded individuals is essential to your growth and accepting who you are. Having people in your circle to show that you are not in the fight alone really helps. Support groups and systems are the best thing that ever happened to my life. Understanding that I can’t do everything on my own own was eye-opining. I use to have that mentality that I can do it all by myself, I don’t need nobody help… A LIE! Having other people to support you on your journey helps you cope with the hardships better. It’s also a good resource to network and expand your understanding of who you are and what you’re trying to do or become.
Five: Learn To Serve
A life well-lived is not one that’s kept inside, it’s the one shared with the world. Using your gifts and talents to be of service to others is the diamond in the ruff of life. Being able to contribute to something bigger than yourself gives more meaning to life. It’s not always about us, I came to find out how much more I not only got respect from the community but I had for myself after using my talent to help others. It makes me proud of who I am and able to accept and own who I’ve become.
In this video below, I deliver further dialogue, tips and personal examples on ways to being more self accepting and owning who you are. It may be some of you guys first time seeing me in my female persona (or drag character) Cocoa Collins, I did this video right after a performance I had earlier that night and thought it was the perfect time to talk about the topic. Enjoy!
Before I close remember, Please leave a comment and a like on this post. What was your big take away from this or do you have any tips you would like to add. Let’s talk about it!
"Always believe in yourself, because I know I believe in you."